Codependency - Characteristics

Walking Christian on Codependency  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:35
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Let’s start by taking the Codependency Checklist test first, then we will take it again after we have educated ourselves on the Characteristics of Codependency.

II. Characteristics of Codependency

Can children be conditioned to be codependent?
Clearly, yes.
In the Bible, Rebekah shows a blatant bias toward her second-born son, Jacob, because he stays close to hearth and home.
Meanwhile, Isaac favors his firstborn son, Esau, because he has prowess in hunting.
Since no two children have identical skills, all children should be recognized for their differences and respected for their distinctiveness.
Oh, but Rebekah does not love in this way!
She becomes obsessed.
Thus, the conniving begins.
Rebekah wants Jacob to receive “the birthright of the firstborn” (which unquestionably belongs to Esau).
She becomes determined to deceive her husband so that he will give it to Jacob.
Because of the enmeshed relationship between Rebekah and Jacob, she finds it easy to persuade her son to defraud his father.
She plots.… She schemes.… She secretly plans.
Rebekah coaches Jacob to cover his hands with the skin of a young goat so that they will feel like the hands of his brother.
She even dresses Jacob in Esau’s clothes.
Because of old age and weak eyes, father Isaac is fooled.
Although the scheme is a success, Jacob is found out and flees for his life.
But alas, he does not escape his passive dependency.
All too soon, he again becomes manipulated by others.
His father-in-law and his own two wives are crafty and cunning. Meanwhile, he feels conned and controlled.
Such is the misery in adulthood when one is enmeshed in childhood. (See Genesis chapters 27–30.)

A. Who Are Codependent People?

Codependent people may appear capable and self-sufficient, yet in reality they are insecure, self-doubting, and in need of approval.
This need for approval results in an excessive sense of responsibility and a dependence on people-pleasing performance.
However, the Bible says our primary focus should not be on pleasing people, but rather on pleasing God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 ESV
1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

The Codependent Person Profile

(Think about the person with whom you are closely involved and consider if any of these statements are reflections of you.)
□ I feel responsible for the feelings, needs, and actions of the other person.
□ I try to fix the problems of this person, even to the detriment of my own well-being.
□ I can discern the thoughts of this person but cannot identify my own.
□ I know the feelings and needs of this person but do not know my own.
□ I do things for others that they are capable of doing for themselves.
□ I feel angry when my help is not wanted.
□ I tend to be rigid and judgmental in the eyes of others.
□ I judge myself more harshly than I judge others.
□ I deny my own feelings and needs—so I’ve been told.
□ I feel guilty when I stand up for myself.
□ I feel good about giving but have difficulty receiving.
□ I try to be perfect in order to avoid anger or criticism.
□ I look for my worth in the approval of others.
□ I find that I am attracted to needy people and that needy people are attracted to me.

B. What Is a Codependent Relationship?

The classic codependent relationship is typically characterized by an emotionally weak person who feels the need to be connected to an emotionally strong person.
The so-called strong one is actually weak because of the need to be needed.
Both are insecure and become entangled in a web of emotional bondage.
The two combine to produce a destructive cycle of manipulation and control, draining joy and happiness out of life.
Because this destructive dynamic is often subconscious, both parties can feel innocent of any wrongdoing.
Yet, God knows that their self-absorbed motives are consumed with trying to fill an empty emotional bucket that has no bottom.
Proverbs 16:2 ESV
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

The Codependent Relationship Profile

• Both feel a loss of personal identity.
• Both violate their consciences.
• Both have difficulty establishing healthy, intimate relationships.
• Both struggle with low self-worth.
• Both control and manipulate.
• Both have difficulty setting boundaries.
• Both become jealous and possessive.
• Both fear abandonment.
• Both experience extreme ups and downs.
• Both are in denial.
• Both have a false sense of security.
• Both usually have one other addiction besides the relationship.
• Both feel trapped in the relationship.
Question: “Is a friendship codependent when two friends depend on one another?”
Answer: No, if the friendship is interdependent (reciprocal with balanced sharing), then it is healthy. If the friendship is codependent (out of balance), then it is unhealthy.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV
17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
An Unhealthy, Codependent Friendship
» One friend is weak and troubled; the other friend is strong and competent. (There is an imbalance of power and of give-and-take.)
» One friend desires freedom to enjoy other significant relationships but is fearful of doing so. The other friend desires exclusivity and becomes easily jealous or threatened.
» Both may put the other friend in the place of Christ, and neither is bettered by the friendship.
A Healthy, Interdependent Friendship
» Both come together as equals with a balance of power and of give-and-take.
» Both pursue and enjoy other significant relationships and avoid exclusivity.
» Both friends are better because of each other. Each strengthens the other spiritually.
Biblical Illustration: During a difficult time in David’s life, his dearest friend, Jonathan, didn’t try to draw David to himself. Instead, the Bible says, “Jonathan … helped him [David] find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
Question: “As an employee, how can I keep codependency out of my workplace?”
Answer: Don’t be afraid to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries.
Answer: Don’t try to be your employer’s “all-in-all”—the one who will always do everything.
Answer: Don’t be controlled by manipulation and fear.
Answer: Don’t let staying late be a detriment to your God-given, personal priorities. If the work load is too great to accomplish what you have been hired to do in the time allowed, you could express an accurate picture to your employer in this way: “Mr. (employer’s name), thank you for the opportunity to work on this assignment. We seem to have run into a problem. You have employed me to be here 40 hours a week; however, there is at least 100 hours of work to be done. How do you want me to prioritize my tasks and utilize my 40 hours this week?”
Answer: Don’t be afraid to say no when it’s appropriate to say no.
Matthew 5:37 ESV
37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Question: “Should I date a woman who is secure, confident, and competent or someone who is insecure, from a difficult background, and really needs me?”
Answer: You can be a knight in shining armor and rescue a damsel in distress. But once you have rescued her and she goes on with her life, she will not value you as a person—only as a rescuer. You want to be wanted because you are loved, not because of emotional unhealthiness.
— Someone who is emotionally healthy can love you out of strength and will be able to accept you unconditionally and offer you security in a relationship.
— Someone who is emotionally needy is typically self-focused and limited in ability to be sensitive to the needs of others. Emotionally needy people are more often “takers” than “givers” in relationships and “use people up” emotionally.
Seek someone with emotional maturity and spiritual wisdom, someone who can help you to grow more and more in your relationship with the Lord.
Proverbs 13:20 ESV
20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

C. Take the Codependency Checklist Test

Are you unsure about someone who is significant in your life? Is it possible that you are in a relationship that others would call “codependent”? If so, how would you know? Read through the Codependency Checklist and make a check mark (√) by what is applicable to you.
□ Do you struggle with feeling loved; therefore, you look for ways to be needed?
□ Do you want to throw all of your energy into helping someone else?
□ Do you say yes when you really want to say no?
□ Do you feel compelled to take charge of another person’s crisis?
□ Do you feel drawn to others who seem to need to be rescued from their problems?
□ Do you have difficulty setting and keeping boundaries?
□ Do you find it difficult to identify and express your true feelings?
□ Do you rely on the other person to make most of the decisions in your relationship?
□ Do you feel lonely, sad, and empty when you are alone?
□ Do you feel threatened when the other person spends time with someone else?
□ Do you think the other person’s opinion is more important than your opinion?
□ Do you refrain from speaking in order to keep peace?
□ Do you fear conflict because the other person could abandon you?
□ Do you become defensive about your relationship with the other person?
□ Do you feel “stuck” in the relationship with the other person?
□ Do you feel that you have lost your personal identity in order to “fit into” the other person’s world?
□ Do you feel controlled and manipulated by the other person?
□ Do you feel used and taken advantage of by the other person?
□ Do you plan your life around the other person?
□ Do you prioritize your relationship with the other person over your relationship with the Lord?
If you responded with a yes to four or more of these questions, you may be involved in a codependent relationship!
When we find ourselves in unhealthy patterns of relating, we need to change our focus, change our goals, and change what is hindering us from running the race God has planned for us. Our primary focus should be not on a person but on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship (pp. 7–11). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.
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