Codependency is more than a relationship problem. It’s a wound to our psyche and individual development. Make no mistake, it’s to no fault of our own. Codependency is adaptive and helped us survive growing up in a dysfunctional family system. But that adjustment cost us our individuality, authenticity, and our future quality of life. The beliefs and behaviors we learned then led to problems in adult relationships. In fact, they tend to recreate the dysfunctional family of our past.
Origins of Codependency
Codependency is both learned and passed on generationally. It starts in childhood, usually because of codependent parenting, including being raised by an addict or mentally or emotionally ill parent. To survive, we’re required to adapt to the needs, actions, and emotions of our parents at the expense of developing an individual Self. Repetitious patterning shaped our personality style with supporting beliefs, which were both learned and inferred from parental behavior. They were formed by our immature infant-toddler mind in the context of total dependency on our parents.
An example is, “I must not cry (or express anger) to be safe, held, and loved.”
We developed a codependent persona, employing strategies of power, pleasing, or withdrawal to endure dysfunctional parenting. Appropriately using all of these is healthy, but codependents compulsively rely mostly on only one or two. In Conquering Shame and Codependency, I describe these coping mechanisms and personalities as The Master, The Accommodator, and The Bystander.