Blaming others for their problems is denying their own problem, which is at the heart of most unhappiness. Only as we face the truth, as Jesus put it, will we ever find freedom and happiness.
Third, codependents need to stop trying to change others. They have a compulsion to fix anybody but themselves. Trying to change or fix others only leads to frustration and anger for both parties. The only person we can ever fix or change is our self, and as we change, others around us are forced to change—one way or the other.
Fourth, the codependent needs to come to terms with his or her own problem. While an overdependent person is often addicted to some form of compulsive behavior, the codependent is addicted to the addict. In reality, both are overdependent on each other.
Because codependents need to feel needed in order to feel loved, they suffer from love deprivation, usually from childhood, and have confused feeling needed for feeling loved. This is why many codependents have gone into the helping professions.
In order to feel needed, some codependents will go to any length to keep a needy person dependent on them. They can be loyal to the point of being destructive both to themselves and others.
On the surface, codependency can appear to be very loving, kind and Christian. However, at its core it is a confusion of responsibility. The codependent is so busy taking too much responsibility meeting the needs of others, he neglects taking responsibility for meeting his own needs and facing his own problems.
In so doing, he short-circuits the natural consequences of his loved one's destructive behavior. For instance, as long as Janet keeps paying Phil's bills for him, and keeps taking him back without serious consequences after his affairs, he will never learn responsibility in financial matters or relationships. Only when Janet stops protecting and "saving" Phil and allows him to face the consequences of his irresponsible business and personal behavior will there be any hope for Phil to recover.
The codependent is
addicted to the addict.
Regarding John, I said to Kym, "It is one thing to accept John. It is another matter altogether to accept his transvestite behavior. As long as you accept his behavior and keep protecting him, he will never get better and, as such, you are being a part of his sickness."
And as long as Fred keeps paying Bill's debts for him, Bill will never accept his own responsibility and grow up.
The fact is, we are all responsible for our behavior. As the Bible says, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of how responsibly we have lived.1
Codependents need to allow irresponsible people to face the consequences of their actions, and, if necessary, let them hit bottom. Codependents also need to accept responsibility for themselves and work on their own growth and recovery. One effective way to do this is to join a twelve-step support or similar group. Here, you can learn to feel loved for whom your are and not for what you do for others.
Most of all, codependents need to trust their life to God—a power greater than their own—and daily ask him to face them with the reality of their problem, help them to see the root cause of it, and lead them to the help they need plus the courage to overcome.
God can make a much better job of our life than we can. Why not trust your life to him today?
1. See 2 Corinthians 5:10.
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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