Sunday, November 07, 2004

Dependent: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Dependence is when we believe we must have special others in our lives to exist.
Co-dependence is insisting that others help us do what we can do for ourselves.
Co-dependence is believing we cannot do or convincing others we need them.
Co dependence is the state of giving other responsibility for our life choices.
Co-dependence is also believing our value is based on having others need us.
Co-dependence is believing that our mate, parent, doctor or therapist is responsible for us.
Co-dependence is teaching others be dependent on us so we can take responsibility for them

Healthy dependency is knowing when we are unable to take care of ourselves and asking for help.
Unhealthy dependency is when the one depended on and the dependent one agree to maintain a dependent relationship, when there is no longer a need for help.
Whether parent/child, husband/wife or employer/employee, therapist/client, doctor/patient, care-giver/care-receiver, there is a tendency for unhealthy co-dependence based on original family patterns.

Natural dependence:
When we are unable to care for ourselves due to infancy, illness, mental impairment, we depend on others for assistance.
We ask (cry, request, hire) for the help we need. In this way, we are our brother’s keeper. We are here to be truly helpful.
We are here to treat others with the love and respect we would want if we were in a similar circumstance.
This is natural, helpful and healing dependence.
Unhealthy co-dependence:
When we have a problem, seeking comfort, agreement or assistance to solve that problem, we may tend to need the helper.
When we take on the role of helper and base our value on our helpfulness, we may attach to and need those whom we are helping.
We may inadvertently encourage their helplessness, neediness and dependence on us.
It is important for those offering help to be clear about what and how much is needed and wanted.
It is important for those offering help to have met their own needs, so they not sacrifice or martyr themselves or depend on the other’s neediness for their self worth. Those who have low self esteem may use the dependence of another to feel more confident and worthy and unconsciously encourage dependence. And when there is money exchanged, helpers may encourage extenuation of dependency.

Are you co-dependent?
Do you need others to need you?
Do you need others to survive?
Do you need to be needed?
Are you a parent who needs to be considered in solving problems and making decisions for your children?
Are you a therapist or health professional who believes your clients will need you for years?
Are you an employer who depends on fixing your employees problems?
Are you a friend who is in the habit of giving advice to people who can think for themselves?
Are you someone who likes being the problem-solver, the sympathetic listener, the wise advisor?
Are you someone who encourages needy or dependent relationships?

Let’s consider being partners, collaborators, teammates in life and learning together.

Betty Lue