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Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence
The following checklist is offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. It may be particularly helpful to newcomers as they begin to understand codependency. It may aid those who have been in recovery a while to determine what traits still need attention and transformation.
Denial Patterns: Codependents often. . .
· have difficulty identifying what they are feeling.
· minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel.
· perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
· lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
· label others with their negative traits.
· think they can take care of themselves without any help from others.
· mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
· express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
· do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted.
Low Self-esteem Patterns: Codependents often. . .
· have difficulty making decisions.
· judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.
· are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.
· value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own.
· do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons.
· seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than.
· have difficulty admitting a mistake.
· need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good.
· are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want.
· perceive themselves as superior to others.
· look to others to provide their sense of safety.
· have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
· have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries.
Compliance Patterns: Codependents often. . .
· are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
· compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
· put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.
· are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
· are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
· accept sexual attention when they want love.
· make decisions without regard to the consequences.
· give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.
Control Patterns: Codependents often. . .
· believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
· attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
· freely offer advice and direction without being asked.
· become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice.
· lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence.
· use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
· have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others.
· demand that their needs be met by others.
· use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate.
· use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally.
· refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
· adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
· use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
· pretend to agree with others to get what they want.
Avoidance Patterns: Codependents often. . .
· act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them.
· judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
· avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance.
· allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships.
· use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
· diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery.
· suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
· pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away.
· refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves.
· believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
· withhold expressions of appreciation.
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