Co-dependency and Forgiveness
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Co-dependency describes a dysfunctional, one-sided, relationship where the other person relies on us to meet most of their emotional needs. We prop up their self-esteem and self-worth. However, co-dependency implies that there are negative side effects to our support: it allows them to continue in self-destructive or addictive behaviour.
It can be challenging to extract oneself from a co-dependent relationship, because our own lack of self-esteem can be hooking us in to wanting to be needed. This “wanting to be needed” can be so strong that it is like an addiction itself. This could also be called a “co-addictive” relationship as much as a “co-dependent” relationship, because in such a relationship one person is addicted to alcohol, drugs, or the like; and the other person is addicted to “being needed”.
If we have low self-esteem we may cling to our current relationship, no matter how difficult it is, because we fear that we might never get another relationship. We fear that nobody else will want us. Even if it is a toxic relationship we may have irrational feelings of guilt and shame if we think about ending it, because we have convinced ourselves that the other person cannot live without us.
Also, low self-esteem can cause us to feel intensely guilty for any mistakes we make, or sometimes even for the suffering of others, when we are not at all to blame. We may feel that we must do something to help them. Yet, sometimes our overly eager helpfulness can actually be doing harm. It could be preventing the person facing the consequences of their behaviour, and thereby experiencing valuable lessons. Sometimes the other person needs to go through their suffering – such as when it is due to their own bad decisions – as it is necessary that they learn something from what they have created before anyone rescues them from it.
One way to build up our self-esteem, and unhook ourselves from co-dependent relationships, and toxic relationships, is to practice forgiveness by learning The Four Steps to Forgiveness. We can use The Four Steps to Forgiveness to forgive ourselves, or to forgive others.
Self-Forgiveness helps us become free of the self-blame and self-condemnation that are the root cause of low self-esteem. Using The Four Steps to Forgiveness also helps to free us from unhealthy entanglements, so that we are less likely to be manipulated through guilt and shame. When we practise forgiving someone – and if necessary forgiving our own behaviour in that relationship – this gives us the clarity and insight necessary to see what to do about the relationship.
We can then see what types of entanglements we, and the other person, have created. We can also see whether reconciliation could be done in healthy ways, or whether it would be better to have some distance between us and the other person – at least for a while.
The Four Steps to Forgiveness can help free you from co-dependent relationship and their underlying causes. Why not try it for yourself? You can use The Four Steps to Forgiveness, via one of the links on this page, to free yourself from co-dependent behaviour now.
By William Fergus Martin, Author: Forgiveness is Power.
Four Steps to Forgiveness
Four Steps to Forgiveness
A powerful way to freedom, happiness and success.
William Fergus Martin