Find Freedom with Christian Counseling for Codependency
As children, we begin the lifelong process of learning what it means to love, engage with other people, how to handle hard situations, how to tell others how we feel, what we desire, and what we need, and how to understand the complexities of relationships.
Harmful and dysfunctional living conditions can cause codependency, a ubiquitous condition that spawns a variety of problems including relationship difficulties, addiction, disordered eating, and anger management difficulties. The purpose of Christian counseling for codependency is to heal the brokenhearted and provide help to put an end to the destructive pattern of codependency.
Codependent Karen Part 1
All her life, Karen had been a “people pleaser,” even though this came at a heavy cost, particularly to her health and well being. Her life revolved around looking after others. She was a wife, a mother of three, and a nurse. As the oldest child of an alcoholic mother and an absent father, even as a young girl, Karen took on the role of caring for her siblings – keeping the peace and giving support that was lacking from their parents. She’d naturally fallen into the maternal role.
But as an adult, and with a family of her own to care for, Karen knew there was something missing from her life. Her marriage was turbulent, and Karen often felt that no matter how hard she tried, it wasn’t enough to satisfy everyone. She felt unloved, and, coupled with her natural sensitivity, she couldn’t help but be impacted by others’ difficulties and moods. She shouldered others’ burdens as if they were hers. Karen found herself worn out, depressed, and longing for some meaning in her life.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is a term that most people will have heard at some time or another–although having heard the word doesn’t mean that you understand exactly what it means to be codependent. Codependency is often misunderstood, partly because its definition has undergone a process of evolution over the last four decades.
In the beginning, it was a word used with reference to partners of alcoholics but advances in clinical understanding have caused it to be applied to a much wider group of people. For instance, people raised in dysfunctional families have a relatively high chance of being codependent–or have some traits of codependency in their personality.
Symptoms of Codependency
It isn’t easy to describe the symptoms of codependency. People who are codependent can show symptoms at either end of extremes, for instance, extreme isolation from others, or extreme clinginess. Put another way, people who are codependent may be severely independent, or acutely dependent and they may even switch from one extreme to the other. There are some common traits of codependency, however, that you might recognize:
It may surprise you to know that codependency is a common issue, and it underlies a whole host of other issues, for instance, drug or alcohol abuse, relationship problems, disordered eating, and difficulties with anger. Put simply, people who experience codependency have not had their needs for love, intimacy and self-worth met, beginning in childhood. As a result, they have an unhealthy reliance on other people, work achievement, or substances. These things allow them to have a sense of value or may fill a hole inside them.
Don’t worry if you think you might be codependent. While codependency is a huge difficulty, it is both common and treatable. With the help of Christian counseling for codependency recovery, you can break the patterns of dysfunctional attachments and relationships by finding your true self.
Find Yourself Through Christian Counseling for Codependency
Codependent Karen Part 2
Karen was fed up of feeling adrift. She’d spent her whole life serving others, and now she felt as if she had lost her sense of self in the process. As her counselor asked questions about Karen’s previous relationships and her marriage a pattern soon emerged. Karen had been brought up in a dysfunctional home, abused and neglected. As a result, each and every relationship–including her marriage–was a mirror of the experience of harsh treatment.
Karen took charge of everything for her children and her husband, even the things that they could or should have managed to do for themselves. As a child, she’d learned to conceal her feelings and her needs, and as a result, experienced both anger and depression. Attempting to manage her pain, she didn’t express her needs, but rather sought to control others’ actions, leading to anxiety when they didn’t respond the way she wanted them to. Karen was codependent.
Treating Codependent Relationships
The difficulty with codependency is that people with codependent personalities seem to be a magnet for partners who are also codependent or have other types of emotional instability. Like Karen, people with codependency are caught in a crippling life that revolves around looking after others at the expense of their own needs. Their need to control others stems from a desire to protect themselves from their own longstanding emotional pain. The result is a negative cycle in relationships, for example:
Codependency is quite complex, and its effects on people in their relationships can be very different. It all depends on which codependent traits they have. Often, it’s a mixture of two interdependent spouses, or one non-dependent spouse and a codependent spouse. The signs of codependency in relationships may alter according to the dynamics between the partners, but a lot of codependent people will recognize the signs below.
Hallmarks of a codependent relationship include:
When you work with a Christian counselor, they will look closely at your individual circumstances and produce a treatment plan that meets your needs. Heedless of the approach, there are a number of common goals that Christian counseling for codependency has:
You are unique and precious.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
The only opinion that matters is God’s
How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
You have a purpose
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
You are loved
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
At Santa Monica Christian Counseling, our goal is to help you on your journey to a fulfilled, purposeful life, which reflects your core values. Christian counseling for codependency will guide you to an understanding of how to receive the extravagant love that God has for you, allow you to fix your eyes on God’s plan and love for you instead of looking to others from approval, and set you on an adventure in self-discovery and healthy relationships.
The White Knight And Damsel In Distress: What Causes Codependency?
Codependent Karen Part 3
Through Christian counseling for codependency, Karen was able to face her difficulties. By examining her past pain, Karen was able to heal her inner child. This meant that she was able to stop blaming other people and her situation for her depression, and she began to develop a love for herself and understood that she needed to take responsibility for her own joy. Setting boundaries, vocalizing her own needs and taking up new hobbies formed part of Karen’s recovery. The result was an improvement in her marriage. By engaging in Christian counseling and learning to connect with God, Karen found herself and discovered that she is a capable, empathetic and vivacious woman who is deserving of love and contentment.
Dynamics of a Dysfunctional Family
As with a whole host of mental health difficulties and emotional problems, codependency begins to take root in childhood, within the family setting. ‘Dysfunctional family’ is, unfortunately, a well-known phrase. Because of high levels of separation and divorce, addiction and substance abuse, and a change in both social and cultural standards, the family unit is at risk.
Families with a dysfunctional nature tend to result in the familiar “white knight” and “damsel in distress”–people who have a desire to rescue others, who mistake empathy for love, and people who look for affection by playing the martyr. This toxic mixture results in a host of personal and relational difficulties.
But what is a dysfunctional family, and why does it lead to codependency?
Common aspects of dysfunctional families:
We don’t discuss problems, emotions or express opinions in this family.
Children who are brought up thinking that none of their emotions, desires, worries, aspirations or opinions matter become adults who are disconnected from their feelings, and who avoid expressing an opinion in case of mockery or rejection.
You must always be tough and keep to the rules, or at least pretend to.
Often children are taught that they need to put on a brave or happy face, regardless of how they feel. It is the image that matters, not the reality. When this mentality extends into adulthood, people’s self-expression of needs and feelings becomes shut-down.
You’re not good enough or you’re too arrogant.
When children are not appreciated, repressed or taught that it’s unacceptable to be praised or receive praise, they become adults with low self-worth, who look for affirmation from others.
Shouting, fighting and hitting in anger are normal.
If children are exposed to violence—verbal or physical—on a frequent basis, they develop a belief that dysfunction is normal and familiar, and this may lead to them marrying into violent, abusive, neglectful and disrespectful environments.
Stringent expectations or no accountability.
Children raised in families where there are either excessively strict or markedly absent expectations tend to become adults who exhibit maladaptive traits such as controlling or enabling dysfunction in others.
This is not an exhaustive list of the traits of dysfunction found in the family – there are many more. If you think that you came from a dysfunctional family, or currently belong to one, Christian counseling for codependency can guide you into a healthy view of yourself and your relationships with others, and help you to explore your God-given liberty, identity,and joy. Stopping codependent behavior doesn’t happen overnight, but recovery is achievable.
FAQ About Christian Counseling For Codependency
Can someone recover from codependency?
Absolutely! Codependency can be overcome. It is common, and people are able to discover alternative ways of thinking and behaving that will allow them to heal in time.
How long does Christian counseling for codependency last?
The length of time of Christian codependency is dependent on a number of things, such as how easily you react to counseling, your level of dedication to the process of recovery, and the extent of your codependent traits. Since these factors vary considerably, there is no specific timescale for counseling. Your Christian counselor will help you set goals in the first session, and support will be provided for as long as it is needed.
How do I find the right Christian counselor?
It is important that you find a counselor that you feel at ease with. It’s also crucial that your counselor has experience in helping people to recover from codependency and the issues that accompany it. Please browse through our Christian counselor profiles for a codependency counselor who meets your requirements.
Does codependency affect men and women alike?
Yes. Although it is women who are usually the first to recognize that they have codependent traits, men are just as likely to be impacted by issues from childhood that lead to codependency. Christian counseling for codependency is suitable for men and women of all ages and backgrounds.