How Living for
Giving Can be Unforgiving
Unconditional giving is a state that we all aspire to. We
hope to be a giving person without any agendas from the perspective of why we
give or what we want in return. Yet, frequently there are emotions at work that
we are not aware of that motivate us to over-give to others, be it with our
time, money, energy, etc., creating codependency.
This is the type of giving through codependency that is referred to
throughout this article, which makes a person codependent.
The topic of codependency has multiple issues when you look under the
surface. There is always some need of our own that we are looking to be filled:
to be approved of, to be accepted, to be liked, to be valued, have worth, and
ultimately, to be loved.
If you are a codependent giver, you do not give to yourself or
allow others to give to you. This is a form of codependency.
There are so many excuses and reasons why you donít.
Others need you more than you need yourself. You are strong and should help
those that are weak. It is selfish not to give or to even consider your needs
before somebody elseís. It feels good to give and it does not feel good to
The real test for codependency is to honestly ask yourself: Do I feel at
all resentful at any point before, during or after what I have said yes to or
that I have given? If there is even a small yes, then you are dealing with
codependency and need to take a closer
look at why you are doing what you are doing, what you hope to get out of it,
and what can you communicate and do differently.
People who are on the receiving end of codependent givers allow the
givers to be responsible for them in some way and can become codependent on them.
Their codependent side of the issue is not knowing how to be fully responsible for themselves.
Their codependent fear comes from not knowing how to cope with a particular part of their world.
Having somebody take care of them in some way curtails their emotional
development and allows them to stay in a childhood state of codependency rather
than finish their growth into emotional maturity.
The biggest issue that a codependent giver needs to face is one of
self-value. Why do you feel the need to prove that you are lovable by giving so
much? Why canít you accept that you are lovable exactly the way you are, without
all the giving of codependency?
Part of the answer lies in what you leaned from your parents.
If you are a codependent giver then you learned how to be that way from one of your
codependent parents. You also learned a limited self-value from them.
learned that by taking care of other people, they are more likely to stick
around, or on the reverse side of the coin, are less likely to reject you. How
could they, look what you do for them!
That is how the codependent mind works
The person on the receiving end also learns their
behavior from their codependent parents. They are taken care of so much that as they get
older, they have not learned how to fully take care of themselves and expect to
be emotionally, physically, and/or financially taken care of.
Because it is what
they are familiar with, they surround themselves with people who are codependent
and will take care
of one or more of their needs for them. Both parties fill an important role for
the other in this relationship.
Guilt is also a big part of codependent giving. Somewhere in a givers
psyche, a strong sense of guilt persists every time they think about saying no
to someone, asking for help, or wanting something for themselves. This
goes hand in hand with feeling a lack of value and only feeling that they
deserve love if they are in a state of giving.
It keeps the codependent person in the martyr role
of feeling how nobody really appreciates everything they do for them. This type
of codependency comparison makes them feel better than the person they are giving to, another
way of creating temporary self-value through codependency.
So what would happen if you could no longer give anymore?
What are your worst fears about stopping being so giving? Is the
rejection you fear really real? If people around you walked away from you if you
stopped giving, it would be a reflection of the value that they put on the
giving, not the value they put on you in codependency. If the codependent person goes, they never really valued you
to being with.
So how do you stop being the codependent giver and find a sense of
balance and different value? First you need to become conscious of your
and what you are hoping to get emotionally when you give. Imagine yourself not
giving in a particular situation.
What fears automatically come to mind?
Actually write these fears down. They will be your clue as to how to take the
next step in changing your codependent behavior. Go through all the ways in which you give
to find all the different fears that make you codependent.
Then go back to each of the scenes and think about
actually saying no in each of those situations. Does the fear of conflict come
into your mind? Are you afraid of the other person getting upset with you? How
do you deal with conflict? Do you have a tendency to avoid it? What is the
is an important part of your self-awareness and changing the codependency. For some people, just going through
this exercise is enough to trigger the fight or flight response and send their
What does it mean when somebody reacts to you or is upset
with you? Codependent givers see these types of responses as rejection and seek to avoid
them at all costs. Yet if you can redefine what that means to you without taking
a personís reactions personally, then you free yourself to be able to say no
and create some boundaries and stop the codependency.
Anytime you make changes within yourself, it upsets the
equilibrium of your relationships that are used to you acting in a codependent way.
When you change your codependent behavior, others will have to adapt to those changes and
will initially feel threatened by the new behavior, which represents the unknown
and brings up fear for them.
The most common response is for them to take the
change personally and go on the defensive, usually through blame or attack. Yet
with time, they adjust to your new behaviors and learn to respect your new
boundaries that break the codependency.
Having all this knowledge allows you to take the next
step of thinking about what it is that you want for yourself. Make a list of
everything you would like, whether it is time, respect, money, things, etc. Now,
in a second column, write down why you think you donít have them. Step three
is to then look at your two lists and number them according to how difficult you
think it would be to achieve each item.
After you have done this, pick the item that you think is
the easiest to achieve, based on the number that you assigned to it. What would
it take for you to have that particular thing? What would you have to change in
your life the way it is now? Who or what would you have to say no to or what
would you have to give up doing for others?
Where and with whom would you have
to set a boundary that says to them: I want this, I deserve to have this, you
will respect my desire whether or not you agree with it, and then take action to
fill that desire? Think about it and then take action to make what you want for
For the majority of readers that are codependent givers, this is
where all the excuses and fears really go into overdrive. I really donít need
it that much. It just isnít that important if it might create conflict or take
something away from somebody else. This is what codependency makes you think.
This is where you would typically talk
yourself right out of what you want and feel horrified at the thought of any
commotion created by you asking and standing firm for what you want. Yet anytime
we learn something new there is always a period of discomfort as we go through a
learning curve until we master the new thing we are trying to learn.
You know that there is an imbalance and codependency in your giving. It
will not change unless you choose different actions and create different meaning
for what you do and more importantly, for what you donít do. The fact that you
are a living person on this planet gives you inherent value.
you remove all your fears, ones by one you slowly start to realize that you deserve to have
what you want and have your own needs filled. From that point you share
what is overflowing in you to others as there will be enough for everyone.
Codependency no more!