Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Avoidance is a Character Trait of Codependency

When I was younger, I remember telling my father that I felt hurt by something my grandmother had said and that I wanted to talk to her about it. He responded by telling me that I was drama and that I shouldn’t talk to my grandma about feeling hurt – he said that she doesn’t need my stress right now. After so many times of being told to suppress my feelings, I eventually felt worthless and that I had no voice. As I grew up, I constantly sought reassurance from my family and partners and if they weren’t happy with me, neither was I. I always felt the need to do whatever pleased everyone else, and I hated that.
Avoidance is a Character Trait of Codependency
Codependency is a learned behavior - an emotional and behavioral condition that affects a person’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. This condition can be passed down from one generation to another, and is also known as a “relationship addiction”. People who suffer from this often have one-sided, emotionally destructive or abusive relationships, and is learned by watching and imitating family members who suffer from this as well. These people often rely on their loved one for all their emotional and self-esteem needs.
Oftentimes, codependency starts with being in a dysfunctional family. In this type of family, members often suffer from anger, fear, pain, or shame that is denied or ignored by others in the family. Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that any problems exist, and family members learn to repress their emotions and disregard their own needs.
In turn, this leads to avoidance – the person avoids his or her own needs and concerns and focuses on sacrificing themselves for the person they love and care for – an unhealthy cycle of behavior. In doing this, the person loses themselves and becomes reliant on their loved one to take care of. If someone is often suppressing their emotions and tending to their loved ones, they may suffer from codependency.
Just as avoidance behaviors are learned in childhood, a person can essentially “unlearn” them through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of treatment. CBT is an approach used to help people overcome their negative cyclic thought patterns and replace them with newer, healthier ways of thinking. Other forms of treatment may include medication, support groups, and seeing a therapist regularly to discuss core concerns.
There are so many tools now used to help people who suffer from codependency, and a person can discuss with their doctor different methods to find what works best for them. Seeking help and using healthy tools for recovery can help the person develop higher self-esteem and conflict resolution techniques. Effective communication skills can be learned for relationships, and the person could develop a more grounded sense of self, leading them to healthier relationships and overall quality of life.
The woman that I am with now is helping build back up my self-esteem. We work on cognitive behavioral techniques often, and I am starting to get an idea of who I am now. I have my own hobbies, needs, wants, desires, and more that I never considered before. It’s a freeing feeling. I am learning to be happy with who I am, even if I am not doing what someone else wants me to do. I’m so grateful for that.

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