Codependency is “a psychological and behavioural condition based on faulty programming and emotional wounds, which affects someone’s capacity to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships,” according to Jason Breyer. Stacy Hoch describes Codependency as an image disorder built on the idea and belief that you should be more concerned with what others think of you than what you think of you, and the idea that “I” do not exist without other’s validation. As a result, we often try to fill our inner voids and wounds vicariously by filling others. She says, for the sake of others, the Codependent harms themselves and Narcissist for the sake of themselves harms other people. If left unchecked, the pattern of Codependency may be passed from one generation to the next.
How is Codependency Created?
Codependency is created by our attachment trauma, according to Ross Rosenburg. During the first 3 years of life we need to feel safe and secure with our parents or caregivers. This allows us to develop a healthy sense of self that forms the foundation for our ability to develop meaningful, healthy relationships with others. Elaine Aron writes, “about half of all infants are raised by adequate parents, and thus become what is called “securely attached” children.” The other approximately fifty percent develop an insecure attachment (anxious or avoidant). If we experience fear, unpredictability, uncertainty, neglect, rage, indifference, abuse, emotional unavailability, etc. the natural attachment process is disrupted; causing trauma, which can result in deep and lasting challenges for those that have experienced it (until its dealt with).
Stacy Hoch says, “a Codependent Empath can be created when a child is responsible for empath-ing the parent. The empathic baby or child responds to the needs of the parent and has learned that it is literally what they have to do to survive.” She feels that being an Empath is a precursor to being Codependent; and that someone who does not have to empathize with their parent (in this way) does not have to develop that skill to survive; because the parent is going to meet their needs. Dr. Judith Orloff writes, “not all Codependents are Empaths.”
Further, Stacy Hock speaks of ‘attachment issues’ halting the development in the Codependent and the Narcissist. She refers to them as, “the flip side of the coin.” The Codependent “gives” to feel worthy, and the Narcissist, “takes” to feel worthy.” Both have deep inner wounds that need attending to and are deficient in self-love. Ross Rosenburg calls Codependency, “Self-Love Deficit Disorder”. Codependents learn early, according to Lisa Romano, that we do not have the right to our own feelings, that it is not ok to have a need, a want, to cry or say no.” We learned that we needed to comply, be easy, no trouble, invisible, good, and to smile instead of cry.
The Characteristics of a Codependent (not a complete list):
Codependent Empaths are hyper-sensitive to everything in their surroundings. They deeply feel, notice, and are impacted by subtle nuances in others; their energy, state of mind, mannerisms, gestures, tone of voice, disapproval, criticism etc. This provides them constant feedback regarding their safety, lovability, worth, etc. and affects them, their behaviour and nervous system in very deep and profound ways. Stacy Hoch makes the distinction between a Codependent and an Empath, saying, “the Codependent is the fixer and the Empath is the healer. We have to be with another person to be Codependent, but this is not the case for being an Empath.”
Codependency programming ensures that our identity, love, validation, approval, peace, and sense of safety is solely reliant on others. We falsely believe that other people and situations are responsible for our happiness or lack thereof. We completely abandon ourselves and our wounded and deeply afraid inner child(ren) for the sake of others. This can feel like an emotional, psychological, and physical prison that may come to feel like this is how things will always be, that it’s somehow our fate.
Codependency can be further described as (but not limited to):
-An external dependency on others for acceptance, validation, approval, and to feel good about ourselves.
-Not having your own solid identity, becoming void of ourselves for the sake of someone else.
How it shows itself/coping mechanisms:
-We seek permission from others.
-Our self-esteem is validated by what we do and by others’ opinions of us.
-We can struggle to meet our own needs.
-Asserting oneself is almost impossible.
-We create behaviours that assist in denying, ignoring or preventing difficult emotions.
-Can be very self-destructive and self-sabotaging as being self- abusive is what we were taught.
-Codependents often isolate themselves; deep core shame and loneliness is at the heart of this.
The impact of Codependency Programming:
Lisa A. Romano says, children love without the gift of objectivity, they ARE love, so children who experience rejection and abandonment, love those who hurt, abuse and push them away. They never outgrow that desire to be loved by an energy whose vibrations match the person who abandoned them. What they needed was to be taught to love, be cared for, to respect themselves and to feel worthy and deserving of love. Often, a parent or caregiver was hurt and wounded themselves and did not have this to give to us or show their child(ren).
Regardless, it is foundational to a healthy sense of self and healthy relationships! Lisa Romano goes onto say, without this kind of objectivity in place, wounded adults are doomed to love without boundaries, limits and objectivity. This makes us targets for narcissists (and narcissistic abuse), sociopaths, and psychopaths- on a conscious level, we experience the other as a soulmate. However, far beyond their conscious awareness are the deeper and darker feelings of dysfunctional familiarity.” This is SO pivotal to know and understand on our healing and awareness journey!!
As we have seen, Codependency is learned and programmed and it resides deep within our being. It is multifaceted and complex, though NOT who we are. The messages that we should have received from our parent(s) or caregivers were loving, kind, patient, and nurturing in nature, that built our sense of self, self-esteem and self-worth, but that did not happen for various reason. We learned to try and get our needs met by “saving” others, and to be no trouble, self- less, and invisible. We may try over and over (to no avail) to prove that we are worthy and worth loving, and continually hit the same road blocks.
Then, finally comes the realization, knowing, and understanding that this is not working; it is dysfunctional, and it does not serve us to try and work out other people’s things for them, to put others’ needs before our own, please people, and to flip ourselves inside out to try and make relationships with toxic people work. And, ultimately, to not (ever) be in toxic relationships and put up with toxic people and treatment in the first place!! Addressing Codependency is an internal clean up job that no one can do (or fix) for us!
There are many wonderful ways, tools, techniques, books, on-line videos, classes, therapies, therapists, modalities, support groups, etc. available to assist us in learning and understanding Codependency and to help heal its deep and many layers. The energetic hold of Codependency programming is strong. In order to heal, attachment trauma needs to be addressed, as well as inner child work (I encourage you to seek those that specialize in these areas) and looking at and identifying deep unconscious programming, beliefs, behaviors, and thoughts. I believe that this is the level that Energy Psychology (Emotional Freedom Techniques) really shines!!
My passion is to offer energetic and educational support to others on their wholeness journey, with the ultimate goal of reacquainting with our TRUE selves, nature, frequency, voice, health, and inner peace!
See the follow up article to this, “Healing and Understanding Codependency.”
Please see the contact page if you would like to let me know what you thought about this article, or if you are interested in receiving Empathic Heart Healing’s articles/blogs/newsletters or joining the facebook page. Thank you.
If you are interested in a list of, “Codependent Thoughts and Beliefs to Tap On” please email me and I will send that to you.
- What is Narcissism?
- What is an Empath?
- Healing Narcissistic Abuse
- How to Understand & Identify Narcissistic Abuse
- Healing and Understanding Codependency
- What is Emotional Freedom Technique?
- What is Pranic Healing?
*Energy Therapies, such as EFT and Pranic Healing are not a substitute for professional medical, psychological or psychiatric care.
- Aron Phd, Elaine N.. The Highly Sensitive Person . Citadel Press. K
- Becker, Richard. Codependent: no more narcissistic abuse and gaslighting. A guide to handle a narcissist, cure codependency, stop controlling others, Start Caring for Yourself. For Highly Sensitive people . Kindle Edition.
- Breyer, Jason. Empath – A Highly Sensitive Person – Develop your gift, use emotional intelligence to turn your high sensitivity into a superpower: Overcome negative mindsets and master your social skills . Kindle Edition.
- Forward, Susan. Mothers Who Can’t Love (pp. 146-147). Harper. Kindle Edition.
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- Hoch, Stacy. The Empath, the Codependent and the Narcissist: Who’s What? YouTube.
- Northrup, Christiane. Dodging Energy Vampires (p. 128). Hay House. Kindle Edition.
- Romano, Lisa. The Breakthrough Life Coach. YouTube.
- Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, Ross. The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap . Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
- Schwartz, Arielle Dr. Complex PTSD and Attachment Trauma (article). Oct 2019.