Codependency – Becoming Over Reliant on Others During the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic and the actions taken by governments and international bodies are critically shaping human behaviour, including our relationships with other people. Millions of people who found themselves unemployed are now often dependent on their spouses and forced to rely on government support packages to make ends meet.
Dealing with so many obstacles and adversities has been particularly difficult for those who struggle with mental conditions and so how has the coronavirus pandemic affect people with codependency?
What Is Codependency?
Codependency is a behaviour that refers to prioritising the desires of others and over-reliance on other people for approval, while sacrificing one’s own personal needs. The thoughts and actions of a codependent primarily revolve around spouses or other family members, affecting an individual’s ability to have a balanced, healthy, and mutually satisfying relationship.
Codependents often find themselves in a one-sided, emotionally destructive relationship where their main role is to be a take care or a controller. They constantly deny their own needs and build their identity and self-worth around helping and controlling others to validate their self-esteem.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic some codependents will become ‘dependent’ on the internet as an alternative in meeting personal needs! But that is another story altogether!
Some of the symptoms of a co-dependent person may include:
- Low self-esteem, feelings of shame, and worthlessness
- A need to save others and having a duty to protect their loved ones from all harm
- Self-denial and prioritising others’ needs over their own
- Being responsible for others’ happiness, having hard times saying “no”
- People pleasing and overwhelming desire for others’ acceptance
- Painful emotions such as anxiety, fear of being judged, rejected, or abandoned
Codependency During Coronavirus
Coronavirus crisis hit us all leading to worsening living conditions for people around the world. Luckily, most governments have been able to provide their citizens with temporary funding and support in response to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
People with codependency have found themselves in a particularly difficult and overwhelming situation. Not only did they need to take care of others, but they also had to resort to external assistance that would provide them with the necessary means of subsistence. It has been difficult for those who constantly feel responsible for the happiness of others and were unable to protect their loved ones from all harm and unpleasant situations during the pandemic.
Besides being dependent on government funds to endure the crisis and help businesses survive, many people were also put in a situation where they had to rely on other people’s financial support. Being financially dependent along with codependent habits have made many people end up lacking self-esteem or self-worth, which has led to worsening symptoms and serious health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Living with co-dependency is difficult, particularly in periods of such instability as the current pandemic. The good news is that codependency is an acquired trait which also means that it can be treated. In order to successfully handle disruptive codependency activity, you need to:
- Set the boundaries for yourself.
Listen to others with sympathy, but do not offer a solution, and don’t try to fix their problem unless you’re involved. Also, always question your behaviour. Do you do these things because you want to, or do you feel that you must?
- Identify your own desires and practice valuing yourself.
Ask yourself what you want in your life, without thinking about anyone else’s wishes and expectations of you. Try things that interest you, spend time with people who treat you well, and let go of negative self-talk.
- Consider therapy.
Although any action aimed at treating codependency may be helpful, therapy is particularly recommended as these behaviours are deeply ingrained habits that are difficult to overcome without professional assistance.
Choosing the right therapist who has experience with this issue will make a huge difference in your recovery and help you identify and take steps to deal with codependent behaviour.
Codependency recovery is not a quick process. It can last weeks, months, or even years. Symptoms are habits often passed down from one generation to another and virtually impossible to change on your own.
However, there are help and recovery services available to people living with codependency including Twin Rivers whose Clinical Director is a recovering codependent! Exploring early developmental problems and childhood issues that are frequently related to the emergence of certain destructive forms of behaviour is essential, getting appropriate and experienced guidance and support must be the first step.
If you or anyone of you now is struggling with codependency then please contact Twin Rivers today and learn how to get started with treatment.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process