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Co-Dependent ?

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

At times it can be tough to recognize faulty or unhealthy patterns of being. Behaviors and experiences observed or experienced over time tend to become a part of culture for some individuals and so the assessment of it being unhealthy or unproductive may take a while (if ever) to be acknowledged. These areas do NOT mean you will be or are co-dependent in any way. Yet, if there have been some observed challenges within relationships of feeling heard, valued, supported, or fulfilled... many of these may also be true for you across your lifespan. This is a check in... NOT a diagnosis or an absolute.

Be curious and compassionate.

  • Early experiences including punishment, neglect, or abuse. Early experiences such as abuse, neglect, bullying, or punishment are very important. Children who suffer these kinds of experiences often form the belief that they are bad and must have deserved the punishment.

  • Failing to meet other people’s expectations. You may feel that you are not good enough because you failed to meet someone else’s expectations – this might have meant your parent’s unrealistic standards – note that this does not mean that the expectations were fair or balanced in the first place.

  • Failing to meet the standards of your peer group. Being different or the ‘odd one out’ during adolescence, when your identity is forming, can powerfully impact your self-esteem.

  • Not receiving enough warmth, affection, praise, love, or encouragement. It is possible to develop low self-esteem even without overt negative experiences, but just through a deficit of enough positive ones. Without enough reinforcement that we are good, special, or loved, children can form the impression that they are not good enough.

  • Speaking to yourself in a critical way. Often intended as a way to motivate yourself, more often this ends up paralyzing you, and it reinforces your bottom line.

  • Setting inflexible rules about how you should be. We set ourselves ‘rules for living’ which are intended to protect us from having our worst fears confirmed. The problem is that they are not very flexible, and can breaking the rules can lead to more self-criticism.

  • Making anxious predictions about what might happen. If we don’t see ourselves as competent and capable then the world often feels full of danger. Your anxious mind tries to help by predicting potential threats, but this just makes us feel even more incapable.

  • Avoidance and safety strategies. If you think your flaws might be exposed then it makes sense to try to avoid that threat. But you don’t get a chance to learn how well you could have coped.


  • Testing your anxious predictions, approaching situations that you have been avoiding, reducing your safety behaviors (behavioral experiments)

  • Developing and Maintaining connection to your sensory experiences in your body (body scan, sensory grounding).

  • Identifying and challenging your self-criticism (thought records)

  • Retraining yourself to focus on the positive. (Journaling, affirmations)

  • Modifying your rules and assumptions. (Recognizing those that exist, challenging them into new narratives).

  • Challenging your bottom line and building a new one. (Your values and foundation)

  • Rehearsing positive aspects of your self-image so that they ‘win’ the memory retrieval competition. (Self talk... TALK TO YOURSELF NICE)

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