Being Self-Reflective

16 Jun

I have been reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.  On my tablet.  That officially means I am doing two things I never thought I would be doing.  I have been adamant about my strong loyalty to paper books and my dislike of reading things on a computer screen.  However, my tablet came with a Kindle app, and I’m an Amazon freak.

So…  One night a week or so ago I was checking out a few books on Amazon that had been recommended and I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.  While I was browsing around I noticed that you can get the first chapter of most books as a free preview on the Kindle.  I figured that would be a good way to really know if the book would be a good fit for me because I could check out the first chapter and get a feel for the author and content.  I opened the Kindle app, registered it to my Amazon account, and promptly downloaded the first chapter of about 4 or 5 books.

I immediately found that I like this system!  Right off the bat I was able to eliminate two books that were far too religious and didn’t speak to me at all.  I also found a few to be mildly interesting.  I had some bad pre-conceived notions about Codependent No More from a woman in my support group, but I thought I would read the first chapter to see if I agreed.  My secret hope would be that I would find some major flaw in logic or point that I disagreed with completely so that I could justify my avoidance of the book.

Instead I found that I was devouring it.  A lot of what she said spoke to me.  I really “got” a lot of what I read.  And I wanted to read more.  I was so hooked that I went ahead and downloaded the rest right there.  Amazon made it even easier because the Kindle version was a few dollars cheaper than even the older paperback version.  I read the first 3 chapters in one sitting.

Then I forced myself to slow down.  I discussed a few things with my husband.  I told him what it had me thinking about.  I discovered the bookmark and highlighting feature in the Kindle and really started going to town.  I went back and bookmarked some things I want to think about more.  I highlighted a few passages that were especially meaningful.  I started pondering the parts that I connect with.

Yesterday I got to a list of characteristics of codependents.  She said that the first step toward change is awareness.  I agree with that.  Then I started reading the various lists.  I do identify with a lot of them.  My first gut reaction was that this list is so varied and generic that a LOT of people could identify with several things on the list.  That is true.  However, I started to realize that I agreed with more than just a few.  In fact, I identify with more things than I don’t.  The bookmarks were flying.

At the end of the chapter she suggest going through the list and rating the characteristics.  She said to rate it a 0 if it is never a problem for you, rate it with a 1 if it is occasionally a problem, and mark it with a 2 if it is frequently a problem.  The list is long, but I decided to start doing that today.  I also decided to share that list here on my blog.  I think it is something that others may relate to.  I also think that it will really force me to be completely honest with myself by having some accountability and transparency with others about the things I need to work on.  So here it goes:


Codependents may:

  • think and feel responsible for other people – for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny. (2)
  • feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem. (2)
  • feel compelled – almost forced – to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving a rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings. (2 – with the caveat that my need to help generally takes the form of actions, like helping them study, doing the research or work myself, etc.)
  • feel angry when their help isn’t effective. (1)
  • anticipate other people’s needs. (2)
  • wonder why other don’t do the same for them. (2)
  • find themselves saying yes when they mean no, doing things they don’t really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing for themselves. (3 – I know that is off the scale, but it really applies to me)
  • not know what they want and need or, if they do, tell themselves what they want and need is not important. (2)
  • find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others, rather than injustices done to themselves. (2)
  • feel safest when giving. (2)
  • feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them. (2)
  • find themselves attracted to needy people. (1)
  • find needy people attracted to them. (2)
  • feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don’t have a crisis in their lives, a problem to solve, or someone to help. (0-1)
  • abandon their routine to respond to or do something for somebody else. (1)
  • overcommit themselves. (1)
  • feel harried and pressured. (1)
  • believe deep inside other people are somehow responsible for them. (0-1)
  • blame others for the spot the codependents are in. (0-1 in everyday life, 2 with my husband’s infidelity and sex addiction)
  • say other people make the codependents feel the way they do. (same as above)
  • believe other people are making them crazy. (same as above)
  • Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated and used. (same as above)
  • Find other people become impatient or angry with them for all the preceding characteristics. (0 except for my husband, which would be a 1)


Codependents tend to:

  • come from troubled, repressed, or dysfunctional families.  (1 – we had our share of issues, but I think I was very lucky overall to have the parents I had)
  • deny their family was troubled, repressed, or dysfunctional.  (1 – although according to this my family must have been a nightmare and I’m denying it)
  • blame themselves for everything.  (2)
  • pick on themselves for everything, including the way they think, feel, look, act, and behave.  (2)
  • get angry, defensive, self-righteous, and indignant when others blame and criticize the codependents – something codependents regularly do to themselves.  (off the charts here I have to admit)
  • reject compliments or praise.  (1)
  • get depressed from a lack of complements and praise – stroke deprivation.  (0)
  • feel different from the rest of the world.  (0)
  • think they’re not quite good enough.  (2 – absolutely!)
  • feel guilty about spending money on themselves or doing unnecessary or fun things for themselves.  (2)
  • fear rejection.  (2)
  • take things personally.  (2)
  • have been victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or alcoholism.  (1 – I think my Dad definitely could be called emotionally abusive when I was growing up, and maybe even physically abusive as well, depending on where you fall on the corporeal punishment spectrum)
  • feel like victims.  (0)
  • tell themselves they can’t do anything right.  (0)
  • be afraid of making mistakes.  (2)
  • wonder why they have a tough time making decisions.  (1)
  • have a lot of “shoulds.”  (2)
  • feel a lot of guilt.  (2)
  • feel ashamed of who they are.  (1)
  • think their lives aren’t worth living.  (0)
  • try to help other people live their lives instead.  (0)
  • get artificial feelings of self-worth from helping others.  (1)
  • get strong feelings of low self-worth – embarrassment, failure, etc. – from other people’s failures and problems.  (1 – only when that person is tied to me – like in a marriage. For instance, I still want to help my sister succeed in school, but I don’t feel personal embarrassment if she doesn’t.)
  • wish good things would happen to them. (1)
  • believe good things never will happen.  (0)
  • believe they don’t deserve good things and happiness.  (1)
  • wish other people would like and love them.  (1)
  • try to prove they’re good enough for other people.  (2)
  • settle for being needed.  (2)

Well, that’s all I have time for right now.  I will come back to this later.  Hope this gives you some food for thought.  I definitely have plenty to think about!


6 Responses to “Being Self-Reflective”

  1. chrissy50 June 18, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I love your blog, and this post especially touched me, being in Al-Anon. WTG! By the way, it does get better. It takes a lot of time, and really hard work. But it does. Honest.

    • beautifulmess7 June 18, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      Thanks! There are more parts of the list, and I want to share all of them. It was a revelation to me, though. I have always felt that this was my husband’s problem. But now I can see that it has affected me so much that it has changed me as well.

      • chrissy50 June 18, 2012 at 9:14 am #

        Codependent No More is an awesome book. I have read it twice, and there are still things on there that I would rate a 2 for. But some I’m cool with. THAT has taken me years to say. LOL And I’m going to be 50 this year.


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