Is Self Esteem the Key to Recovering from Codependency?
Updated: May 13, 2022
By Aarushi Malkani
Saying ‘no’, for people pleasers, can be really hard. It is hard for some of us to just stop and keep our own needs before anyone else’s. Setting boundaries can be quite confusing, but for some it is problematic. For codependents, not receiving validation can be quite anxious. These individuals give in, so much, that it can be draining and exhausting. They are generally referred to as the ‘fixers’, as they would try to fix, everyone’s problems, like it is their own. Their struggle compels them to depend on someone, in a way that they lose their own sense of individuality, they often lead to becoming vulnerable and rely on others to make them feel safe and functional. In a research conducted, where high school students, completed a codependency measure, results suggested that codependency characteristics were closely linked to a low self-esteem (Fisher & Beer, 1990). Self-esteem is basically, how you see yourself. A person with a healthy self-esteem will think ‘I deserve to be happy’ and ‘I deserve respect’. You need to feel connected to your inner true self in order to have a good image of oneself, love and treat yourself right. Individuals struggling from codependency tendencies, fill this void for self-love by making their own lives about someone else. They would do anything to make the other person happy, even if it involves losing one’s own identity. Ways of achieving happiness, could in many ways contribute to a high or a low self-esteem. Codependents are focused on satisfying the needs of others rather than fulfilling their own needs and building their self-esteem. You get so wrapped up in how people feel, instead of concentrating on how you feel. For an individual having a low self-esteem, codependent behaviour becomes a stop-gap way of creating the illusion of self-esteem (Rutherford& Weber, 1994). This illusion acts as a rewarding and reinforcing aspect of a codependent relationship which just temporary relieves the void. For the one struggling, it seems like a never-ending cycle. A codependent deeply feels the need to stay in that relationship just to construct that artificial sense of self-esteem and goes overboard to make the other person happy. Indulging in behaviours to increase one’s self esteem will involve loving oneself more leading to learning now to treat and care for oneself. This self-love will help trust oneself and gain confidence to individually deal with the various challenges of life. These actions will boost the sense of respect and worth for oneself. This sense of self- worth and respect, will help you say no to what you don’t feel comfortable with. It will help set boundaries and help concentrate on your own happiness first, before trying to make the other happy. Braking, the chains of codependent behaviour, will help build healthy relationships with people.
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