Codependency has been described as “the addiction to look elsewhere.” It’s the belief that something outside of ourselves – people, places, things, behaviors or experiences – will bring fulfillment and joy. This is not only the most common addiction, but also the base out of which all other addictions and compulsions arise.
Codependency is often expressed as the need to control or be controlled, to seek approval, or to avoid confrontation. Codependents may struggle with experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem, setting functional boundaries, making decisions and verbalizing requests. Under certain conditions, this dis-order can be life threatening.
Codependency has also been called the “disease of the lost self.” As Thomas Merton wrote: “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our time.” This is often how we lose ourselves: we minimize what’s going on inside, while overreacting to the outside.