Am I Co-Dependent? You may be wondering: ‘Am I Co-Dependent?’ ‘What is Codependence?’ Many of us want precise definitions and diagnostic criteria before we will decide. At CoDA, we respectfully allow psychiatric and psychological professionals to provide these, but what we do offer from our own experience are characteristic attitudes and behaviour patterns that describe what our co-dependent histories have been like.
We believe that recovery begins with an honest self-diagnosis. We came to accept our inability to maintain healthy and nurturing relationships with ourselves and others. We began to recognise that the cause lay in long-standing destructive patterns of living. We have found these patterns to fall into four major categories: denial, low self-esteem, compliance and control. The checklist of patterns and characteristics is offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. It may be particularly helpful to newcomers as they begin to understand co-dependence. It may also aid those who have been in recovery for a while to determine what traits still need attention and transformation.
After completing this checklist we suggest that you continue attending CoDA meetings for several weeks. Listen to the similarities and not the differences. Search out members of the fellowship you believe you can trust and discuss your checklist answers with them. If you come to accept that you are, indeed, co-dependent, then you will be ready to begin the Twelve Steps of recovery, and to seek a sponsor to guide you through the process.
These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.
They may be particularly helpful to newcomers.
I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.
I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
I lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
I label others with my negative traits.
I can take care of myself without any help from others.
I mask my pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
I express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
I do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom I am attracted.
Low Self Esteem Patterns:
I have difficulty making decisions.
I judge what I think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.
I am embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.
I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings, and behavior over my own.
I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.
I constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve.
I have difficulty admitting that I made a mistake.
I need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and will even lie to look good.
I am unable to ask others to meet my needs or desires.
I perceive myself as superior to others.
I look to others to provide my sense of safety.
I have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
I have trouble setting healthy priorities.
I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
I put aside my own interests in order to do what others want.
I am hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
I am afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
I accept sexual attention when I want love.
I make decisions without regard to the consequences.
I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.
I believe most people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
I attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
I freely offer advice and direction to others without being asked.
I become resentful when others decline my help or reject my advice.
I lavish gifts and favors on those I want to influence.
I use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
I have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others.
I demand that my needs be met by others.
I use charm and charisma to convince others of my capacity to be caring and compassionate.
I use blame and shame to emotionally exploit others.
I refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
I adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
I use terms of recovery in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
I pretend to agree with others to get what I want.
I act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward me.
I judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a means of maintaining distance.
I allow my addictions to people, places, and things to distract me from achieving intimacy in relationships.
I use indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
I diminish my capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use all the tools of recovery.
I suppress my feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
I pull people toward me, but when they get close, I push them away.
I refuse to give up my self-will to avoid surrendering to a power that is greater than myself.
I believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
I withhold expressions of appreciation.
The Patterns and Characteristics of Codependency may not be reprinted or republished without the express written consent of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. This document may be reprinted from the website http://www.coda.org (CoDA) for use by members of the CoDA Fellowship.
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