Some people struggle with their own sense of self in a way that compels them to rely on others for help managing their life. People with issues of codependency often become needy and start to depend on someone in their life to help them feel stable and normal. Codependency is more than just clinginess, it is an inability to maintain an innate feeling of self-worth.
Self-esteem and codependent behavior are closely linked because people who are able to develop a normal and healthy sense of self-worth are much less likely to depend on others. Self-esteem is a person’s true opinion of themselves that isn’t based on what others think of them. Someone who is able to evaluate their own self-worth in a healthy way doesn’t need to look toward others for validation.
A person with low self-esteem or issues of self-worth may find that other people make them feel good or bad about themselves. They are more affected by other people’s opinions and are in fact defined by others in a way that makes them act codependently. Their feelings about themselves change depending on who they are with rather than their own innate sense of who they are.
Someone who struggles with their self-esteem may not be fully aware of their codependent behavior and how it is affecting their relationships. When a person becomes codependent they begin to live to please the other person and plan their life around someone else to make them feel normal. Essentially codependency means that one partner needs the other partner and one person becomes the enabler in an endless cycle.
Someone who is codependent evaluates their self-worth based on the other person and they will only feel good about themselves by making sacrifices for them. Codependency tends to occur in romantic relationships but it can also happen in platonic friendships or between family members. People who are codependent may not recognize that something is wrong with their behavior but others outside the relationship will see that the connection is abnormal.
A codependent relationship can be very unhealthy for both people involved and often is accompanied by emotional or physical abuse. The person who is codependent will feel worthless unless they are needed by the enabler or are able to make sacrifices for them. Outside of their relationship they may have no personal identity, interests or values that aren’t related to their partner.
An enabler often feel satisfaction from this type of relationship as well which can create a vicious cycle for the codependent person. One who is codependent may feel that their own desires and needs aren’t important and they won’t express them to their partner. They may even have trouble recognizing their own needs at all.
Self-Esteem and Codependency
A person who has good self-esteem is much less likely to end up in a codependent relationship because they are not looking for someone else’s approval to survive emotionally. Someone with high self-esteem is less affected by external events and knows that their value isn’t a reflection of them. If someone treats them with disrespect then they are less likely to internalize their views or negative opinion of them.
Someone who is codependent bases their self-worth on external things such as beauty, money, prestige or excelling at something. People who are motivated by a desire to please others and win their approval are lacking in their own internal sense of self-esteem. These are the individuals who start to end up in codependent relationships because they want to please their partner instead of having their own needs met.
A codependent person may have trouble following their own inner guidance and will become highly critical of themselves. They will always ask someone else’s opinion instead of trusting their own. They may have trouble taking criticism or even compliments because they have such low self-esteem.
People with issues of codependency can learn to improve their self-esteem by practicing compassion on themselves. They can meet their own emotional needs by having more empathy for themselves instead of harshly judging everything they do. Self-nurturing practices can help improve relationships and prevent codependency because it helps develop a feeling of self-worth that is internal rather than external.
Seeing a professional therapist can be very helpful for people with problems of self-worth and self-esteem. A therapist can provide exercises and advice on how to practice self-care and build up more confidence. Codependent people have trouble taking care of themselves emotionally but they can be guided into learning how to be more independent through cognitive behavioral therapy.
When a person’s self-esteem improves they are likely to have healthier relationships with others and will act less codependent with their partners. They can learn to have a loving and fulfilling relationship without sacrificing themselves or their own happiness.