Codependency and Self-Worth | HealthyPlace

Codependency and Self-Worth | HealthyPlace

Intimate relationships often hold a mirror to us so that we may see the unhealthiest parts of ourselves. I have recently made an important connection to my codependent behaviors and my self-worth, thus unearthing a new phase in my personal wellness journey. As a therapist, it can be difficult to share my mental health and relational struggles, but I think it’s important to remember that therapists are people trying to navigate our lives the best we can, just like everyone else. That said, here is what I’ve been learning about the connection between codependency and self-worth, from my personal struggle with both.

Codependent Behaviors Aren’t Always What They Seem

Until recently, I would not have described myself as codependent. I am quite independent in many ways. I’m highly educated, run a successful private practice, and enjoy many hobbies and wellness practices independently. I have always been able to take care of myself. In fact, I am often the person others come to when they need help. I created a reputation in my immediate family for being a « fixer » and I love to play the hero role, swooping in to help my inner circle in whatever way they need, at any moment’s notice.

It wasn’t until a recent revelation that I understood my hero role was actually a form of codependency. I realized that I have been helping others to my own detriment, giving too much of myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and even financially. When I recognized my helping behavior was hurting me, I knew I had a problem.

Codependency Reflects Poor Self-Worth

How did I come to this conclusion? I am by all accounts, a successful person. Most people in my life would describe me as confident and strong-willed. As I reflected on the way I abandon myself to care for others, I realized what drives my unhealthy behavior. I want to be loved but I’m afraid I’m not lovable, so I do everything humanly possible to help those I love so they will love me back. I’m afraid to disappoint, to not have the solution, to be unable to fix everyone’s problems because somewhere deep down, I think it’s the only thing that makes me valuable to the people I love most.

This fear of becoming unuseful and thus disposable to my loved ones keeps me trapped in behaviors that do not honor me or serve me well. Each time I take on the hero role, I reinforce the belief that I am only as lovable as my latest helpful deed. To amend this faulty belief, I am working on setting boundaries with myself and others and opening up to my loved ones about my fears so we can have open dialogue about my feelings. Now, each time I choose not to engage in my codependent fixing behaviors, I reinforce that I am still loved and valued outside of what I can do for others.

Have you struggled with codependency or low self-worth? What skills have helped you overcome your negative beliefs?

Author: Heidi Green, Psy.D.

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