The following is a common issue I see in my private practice either with single adults or any married person. There are many adults who report that they feel compelled to help their loved ones or anyone close to them trying to solve or fix their problems.
How this looks in relationships is when this person takes a lot of responsibility for the other person’s feelings. He or she tries hard to take care of their feelings. Does this sound familiar to you? While we are designed as relational beings, a lot of people are unaware of the fact that one can only take responsibility for his/her own feelings. Many people don’t know how to love or care for people without taking emotional responsibility. I am not suggesting that you don’t care.
What I’m suggesting is to know how to be present with your loved one without emotional complications. In my practice, I hear from people or couples that they many times do too much by worrying, coming up with answers, or telling the person what they should do.
I call these people “fixers”. They get burnt out and tend to resent and feel frustrated with the other person, whether it’s a spouse, parent, friend, or even an adult child. You may not realize that you are taking responsibility for their feelings, their thoughts, their actions, their choices, their wants, their needs, their well-being, and overall their destiny. Now you may say, how do you love them or show them that you care. I am not suggesting at all that you don’t love them, what I am suggesting to you is that the way you love them is unhealthy and dysfunctional, and it’s not working. There are new ways and better ways of caring for them.
Let me ask you a few questions to see if these apply to you:
Do you often say or feel by saying, “you make me feel…..” or “I was made to feel like…..”?
Do you constantly seek their approval and affirmation?
Do you know your sense of self?
Do you know what this means?
Do you comprise your sense of self?
Do you feel confused and inadequate in a relationship(s)?
Are you feeling hypertensive to criticism?
Do you have difficulty having fun?
Do you often judge yourself and you are hard on yourself?
Do you have difficulty in developing or sustaining meaningful relationships?
Do you have the right relationship skills to know how to have a difficult conversation without blaming the other person or yourself?
Are you in a relationship that there is either a lot of drama and excitement which you are addicted to this?
Are you unable to know what is “normal”?
Do you have difficulty in following a project through?
Are you aware of your needs and do you know how to voice your needs appropriately?
There are more situations that people who feel stuck and don’t know how to get healthier and get unstuck. These are only some of the traits of struggling with codependency. Codependency happens when you’re rescuing or fixing the other person’s problems, which gives you a sense of self, purpose, or meaning about your own existence.
To recover from codependency and make healthy – positive changes in your life and in your relationships, it requires deep work with someone who knows how to help you and walk with you on this new journey. It requires changing your own relationship with yourself. That means you will have to ask yourself some honest and hard questions. That is why you can’t do this alone. It’s imperative that you get the right help. It just may be time to seek out a professional in marriage counseling.
The first step to recover from codependency and get unstuck is to learn to take responsibility for your own feelings, your own actions/behaviors, your issues, and your life. You’ve got to learn how to set limits with others in a loving and honest way.
I will share only one significant tip here! The first step is accepting your own powerlessness over anything in your life (such as addictions) or over any person or event, or an unhealthy relationship, including a marriage that has been suffering. Your addiction may be that you are too involved and addicted to helping and fixing this other person in your life!
You also have to learn how to let go of the need to control people, events, or places. This is difficult work but highly rewarding.
I highly encourage you to take a couple of important steps. You must find an experienced therapist who knows how to help with this and also find the right support group of people who are serious about this and on the same path. You really need to commit to make this a priority and meet with them or your therapist consistently, so that you can make real changes.
If you are serious about making these changes, I invite you to meet with me, experienced in couples therapy, and do a thorough assessment of these issues in your life and feel your own power.
Jousline Savra, LMFT, Burbank, CA