Co-dependency – worthiness externalised
Shamans believe that when we transcend through many phases in life, enduring several experiences, our soul gets damaged, resulting in different aliments and disorders. They believe however that all illness, comes from “losing power or giving power away”, to someone or something.
When someone is co-dependent, this is in fact, a form of giving your power away “your centre of power”, as your sense of worthiness has been externalised and placed within others.
If your centre of power is located outside of yourself, this will mean that internally, you will have a dysfunction with your energy system, there will be a weakness in it. A person’s centre of power is located between the second and third chakra. Co-dependency will germinate in the root (tribal chakra), sacral (relationship chakra and also where your power starts as an individual) and solar plexus (where your power as an individual reaches maturation) – the lower, foundational chakras. Co-dependency is born in childhood. These three chakras are affected, as they are predominant in childhood. The root chakra is the first to activate in us; group or tribal consciousness. The sacral chakra is individualised consciousness – a very specific type of power is developed, in the second chakra – it’s “power in relationships”.
This co-dependent style is common to be a cyclical pattern, that can be displayed in all relationship dynamics; with romantic partners, family members, friends and colleagues. This relationship style, creates a sense of purpose found in a compulsive need to care for, save, rescue, assist and help others.
In psychology, the co-dependent is described as someone who sacrifices their own needs, for the needs of others. They deny their own healthy needs. If you are “sacrificing” yourself, this essentially means that you have placed your centre of power – worthiness, validation, sense of approval, self-esteem, your identity and self-image – into someone else, therefore, there is a lack of a sense of “Self” and identity within you. When a person’s centre of power is externalised in someone else, then they are completely dependent on others being in their lives and this manifests in the form of creating a dynamic where, the co-dependant can feel as if they are needed and relied upon so they usually take on the role of taking care of or “saving”, rescuing or compulsively needing to “help or assist” others, in order to get a sense of self-worth. This is a dysfunctional relationship style where one endeavours to “give themselves up” which is destructive. They create an illusion of “goodness” to themselves and the outside world – “I give myself up for other people”. I say the co-dependent “endeavours” to do this because it’s not possible to give yourself up – you cannot give up your own needs and wants. What happens is, instead of expressing them, the co-dependent will suppress them and live a life that is unfulfilled and inauthentic. This can then manifest as a denial of what one’s true desires are. Essentially a co-dependent holds back emotions, they may suffer from depression (a suppression of emotion) and as a result, end up rejecting and disowning certain aspects of themselves.
To have a healthy relationship of mutual empowerment, it needs to be one of authenticity and this is actualised when in a state of cocreation. Both honour their own needs and desires and fulfil them in a way that is healthy for both, in order to create the life that they want with one another, in an interdependent and symbiotic way. Both have their best interests capitalised on, where both people’s needs are met. We live in an interdependent universe. The truth of this universe is that of oneness.
If a co-dependent is yearning for a sense of self-worth and the only way that they can feel this, is within others, it is very usual for them to end up in cyclical relationship patterns that are toxic. If the co-dependent gets into a relationship dynamic that is toxic, for example, with a person that has a high conflict personality style such as narcissism, this is in fact a mirror of the co-dependent. Like attracts like and essentially, the co-dependent, can be described as a covert narcissist. The definition of a narcissist, is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. The co-dependent has the same traits but displayed in a hidden way – within others.
Co-dependent was a term that originated in clinical literature that focused on addiction. The addiction in this scenario is “a person or people”, as the co-dependent has an extreme focus outside of them in other people. They need other people in order to feel good about themselves. The co-dependent does not have value towards themselves or value who they are. They require other people in order to feel valuable. As like attracts like, it is common for a co-dependent to attract someone into their lives, with an addiction whereby they can feel as if they have to “save” that person from themselves. However, the motive behind this “help”, is to enable the co-dependent to feel better within themselves so it is therefore not done for unselfish reasons. This co-dependent compulsive addiction, manifests itself in the need to be needed – as by in the helping and in the sacrificing of themselves for others, that’s where they get a spike in their self-worth, as internally, they have none residing inside of them.
By being in a toxic relationship, a co-dependent can display anger and frustration towards themselves, as they know that there’s something fundamentally wrong with how their life is being lived. They know that they are not being treated well and they know they are in fact responsible for the issues going on in their lives. They strive to gain their self-esteem and worthiness, through the endurance of an unhealthy relationship. They keep sticking it out, despite the harm it brings to all. They are responsible for keeping other people trapped in that relationship, even though it is hurting both. Essentially, the co-dependent has created a very victimised situation and finds any excuse to stay in it, to maintain their sense of identity and self-worth, at the detriment to themselves and the other person.
A co-dependent feels that in order to “feel” powerful within themselves, they need to “save” others. However, when a co-dependent is relentlessly giving their power away, this means that they are responsible for draining their own life force so it’s very common for them to become run down, have low energy and have various dis-eases. When your self-worth is externalised, you have no sense of Self and this is why co-dependents have no sense of boundaries, allowing others to treat them however they wish to – not knowing how to impose their limits, being non-assertive and not knowing how to say “no”. Therefore, the co-dependent won’t attain a sense of power in this way, as they are literally depleting their centre of power within this unhealthy dynamic and can face a lot of suffering as a consequence. By overextending themselves, by saving one or multiple people, the co-dependent can become completely overwhelmed and suffer from over exhaustion.
A co-dependent will have a fear of abandonment. If a romantic partner for example leaves and the co-dependent is left on their own, then their illusion of self-worth literally “walks out the door” and they feel completely vulnerable as on their own, standing on their own two feet, they do not actually know who they are; they have no sense of Self. High anxieties therefore arise from the very thought of separation in a co-dependent dynamic. Therefore, they trade in their absolute need for closeness and in doing so, simultaneously deny their own personal truth. A co-dependent may be so frightened of being abandoned, that they go to extreme measures, to keep someone sick so they can never leave so the person remains dependant on them. For example, their partner may misuse substances or have difficult or toxic patterns and behaviours but the co-dependent will minimise those issues by denying them and repeatedly rescuing them in a caregiving capacity or by other means such as money or helping that person to avoid criminal consequences for their behaviour, all in an attempt to “save or rescue” them. In other words, if for example, a substance user’s disorder is healed, that in effect would threaten the co-dependent, in terms of them losing their sense of purpose and identity. They don’t want change. Fear of change is a strong feature in a co-dependent. It’s very typical, for those that possess a fear of abandonment, to go from one toxic relationship to another. They will have a tendency to “overlap” relationships, in order to feel “safe” to transition from one to the other. It can also be common for those with abandonment issues to cheat, as they long for that sense of feeling needed so if they feel any type of insecurity within their “main” relationship, where all of their identity pivots upon, the way they self-medicate, so to speak, from the fear derived from the thought of the “pain of losing someone”, is to cheat in order to temporarily make them feel a sense of safety, by having the feeling of being needed.
If your power resides in someone else, then you will be forever trying to control the other person, as they hold your power. This control can seep out in trying to also control the environment to contain that sense of self-worth and identity. You will possess a quality of hypervigilance, forever being on edge and chronically monitoring the environment for potential threats. However, people and the environment are in constant evolution so this is a battle that can never be conquered and as a result of this, it’s common for a co-dependent to have low trust in people and the universe as a whole. This results in the co-dependent feeling anxiety and stress.
A co-dependent person can frequently get angry when the person they are “helping” or are trying to save, do not thank them or show appreciation for all that they have done. They feel that they have every right to be angry too, without contemplating whether the person in question, actually asked for their help. They may also get angry because they feel taken advantage of but again, like attracts like and essentially, the co-dependent is in fact also taking advantage of the other person, by relying on them to feel good about themselves.
The reason why co-dependency forms, is a result of our learnings and experiences in childhood. It’s a by-product of adapting to dysfunctional human relationships.
If a child was neglected, physically or emotionally, then the child starts to feel emotions such as shame. They have a strong sense of feeling abandoned and this forms the understanding within themselves, that their own needs are not important to be met because this is what has been shown to them, by a caregiver or parent neglecting them in some way. Our universe is simply made of positive and negative. Neglect would be classified as a “negative”. If the child does not transmute this negative from their energetic system, they will continue to attract that same negative going into adulthood, in different scenarios throughout life – they will essentially be creating and manifesting more situations, where they feel neglected or abandoned but in the case of the co-dependent, they are in fact, neglecting themselves as they are putting their centre of power and their sense of worthiness within someone else. The reason why this repetition happens, is because the emotional body needs us to reintegrate that negative, in order to change it to a positive, to become whole again. A shaman would describe this as damaged holes in the soul. To remove this negative and replace it with a positive, this can be quickly and easily achieved through inner child therapy.
In some family dynamics, a child may have taken “emotional responsibility” for the parent, rather than being the “child” by becoming confidants, advisors, caregivers, mentors, mediators etc. Therefore, this externalisation of worth can show up in this circumstance. For example, if a child must care for a parent, then if the parent is sick, they can firmly believe, that they are responsible for that parents change in illness and if their condition worsens, they can feel shame. Therefore, depending on how the parent’s wellbeing fluctuates, this dictates the child’s emotions and their identity begins to be enmeshed within that parents illness. This process of enmeshment is a demonstration of very tangled boundaries and as a child, it is not known what appropriate boundaries are in a child and parent relationship. This pattern, then repeats itself in adulthood.
A co-dependent, may have friends that can see that they are in a toxic relationship and try to encourage them to leave. The co-dependent however, may use an excuse to stay by saying something along the lines of “I feel completely responsible for their emotions and feelings so I can’t leave, they need me”. If the co-dependent is under no illusion that they need to remove themselves from the relationship, they may say “I want to leave but it’s just too painful, it’s like they are a part of me”. In both of these examples, you can see how the co-dependent, has totally externalised their identity and sense of purpose upon someone else.
If you firmly believe that you are “completely” responsible for how someone else feels, this only leads to suffering. It is not the reality and what you’re essentially doing, is erasing that person’s capability and this can result in you taking away another person’s feeling of empowerment and freewill, by making them dependent upon you. Therefore, it may seem to the co-dependent and the outside world, as a virtuous act but it’s in fact inauthentic.
In childhood, as mentioned above, responsibility may have been placed upon a child by parents or caregivers which was not appropriate for a child. In turn, this can make a child feel abandoned, as they know that this should in fact be the responsibility of the parent or caregiver, yet they clearly do not want to take on that responsibility. This sense of abandonment creates a feeling of pain and this then becomes the child’s understanding of what it feels like, if someone does not take responsibility for someone else. In adulthood, this can then develop in a hypervigilance of responsibility where the co-dependent feels, it’s their duty to not allow people to feel the pain that they felt as a child. By doing this, for the co-dependent, it can bring about a sense of connection to others. The truth is however, you are not “completely” responsible for how someone feels. Taking on this role, can lead to an immense amount of stress and pressure, in attempting to keep someone on an even keel, stable and under control. If you want someone to be completely reliant on you, to make them feel good – so that you too feel good – this is very destructive for both.
Inner child therapy is really the key in addressing co-dependency. Also, it is essential that we address the energetic system, in relation to the foundational chakras, strengthening them and reclaiming and recalling your power back.
If you have identified that you hold the traits of a co-dependent and want to find techniques in which to clear those patterns, empower yourself and transform your life, then at Niroshini, we have many strategies in which to address this.
For more information, please email: email@example.com