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How Living for Giving Can be Unforgiving (Codependency)

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 don’t. 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 else’s. It feels good to give and it does not feel good to stop giving.

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 can’t 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.

You 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 codependent guilt 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 codependent actions 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 codependency?

Identifying this 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 heartbeat racing.

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 person’s 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 don’t 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 yourself happen.

For the majority of readers that are codependent givers, this is where all the excuses and fears really go into overdrive. I really don’t need it that much. It just isn’t 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 don’t do. The fact that you are a living person on this planet gives you inherent value.

As 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!

Ewa Schwarz

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