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The Codependency Challenge: Knowing The Difference Between Unhealthy and Healthy Selfishness

When you have codependent tendencies you can sometimes lose yourself by serving others whether in work or in personal relationships. One term that I dislike, but is a reality when you have codependent tendencies, is being a people pleaser. You are constantly making efforts to make other people happy. If you’re accustomed to this type of behavior, you rarely will think you have other options. Should you become aware of other options, such as doing things for yourself or making yourself happy, it doesn’t feel natural. You probably will think it selfish of you to consider acting in your interest. This is your norm and you are likely to experience resistance from others whether at work or in your personal life. You might feel guilty for thinking about yourself. To nurture yourself does not feel natural.

Despite it seeming contradictory, even though you may have codependent tendencies, you do have strengths, one being that you do care about people. The issue is you take it to the extreme. Another strength is that you know when you are being neglectful towards others, whether it be to your responsibilities at work or home. You just have to learn how to balance not being neglectful, while also not allowing others to take advantage of you. It does take effort and we have to resolve how the world around us operates. It also takes courage and building confidence to stand up for ourselves. I know with codependent tendencies this can also be difficult but it is achievable. However, there is an additional challenge, while uncomfortable, must be faced.

Yes, while codependency traits are seen as a weakness to satisfy the needs of others at our own expense, there are some needs that we are meeting for ourselves, but likely not good for us in the long-term. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts. You will need to figure out what those needs are but I would contend they are unhealthy selfish needs. I am not suggesting this is an easy process but if you want growth and end this cycle of behavior, you will need to discover this information about yourself. Know that while it is not within your control, others will have to learn to live with your behavior change. Especially, if you’ve been known to be a people pleaser. I know some will argue it doesn’t matter what others will think and I agree. I do think you should be prepared for the reality of macro or micro-aggressions from others when they don’t like your behavior change. Regardless, you are learning to take better care of yourself.

You will have to learn how to have healthy selfishness. It all depends on you finding that balance between meeting your needs and other’s needs. It’s knowing when to say no to overextending yourself whether at work or home. It’s being comfortable with self-care so you can reenergize. Is it realistic for you to have healthy and positive interactions as well as be productive when you are depleted through constant self-sacrifice? I would argue that learning to have healthy selfishness will serve you better in the long term.

I always like to remind my readers about taking advice. I’ve made some suggestions for you to consider. I’ve shared things that have worked for me. More importantly, I’ve shared things that will hopefully evoke you into being your problem solver. If something doesn’t work for you, please resolve that there will be something that works for you. It requires your discovery. The life journey you are on is unique to you and so should be the solutions you discover.

This blog is intended as an informational support system for those with codependent tendencies on their path towards reinvention. Please seek mental health providers if needed.

David is the owner of Partnerships for a personal transformational coaching company

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