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The Irresponsibility of Dependency

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The Irresponsibility of Dependency
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This audio may seem harsh but for those who are overly dependent, but it is a necessary truth. Only by recognizing how your dependency creates what you fear will you be able to change your life. Your fear of being abandoned, of being alone, of being responsible for yourself is more likely to cause you to be rejected, abandoned, and alone. Once you realize that only you are responsible for changing this pattern, you can create a better life for yourself. No matter what happened to you in the past, you are responsible for your present.

Those who are overly dependent may present in different ways. Some present as helpless with the need to be taken care of while others may present as very controlling. No matter how the dependency may appear, it has the commonality of creating problems in relationships.

The purpose of this audio is to help you recognize this reality. By listening to it and making the choice to take responsibility for yourself, you can create a better future. Keep in mind that as with all the cognitive-behavioral tools, this should be used in combination with the other methods such as the cognitive diary method.

Transcript: The Irresponsibility of Dependency
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People who are overly dependent tend to blame others, or the world, or other outside forces for their problems. If you are listening to this audio, you have taken an important first step to changing your life. Now it is critical to listen repeatedly until you have thoroughly examined your life and taken responsibility for yourself.

This audio discusses the dependent type of co-dependency which involves a relationship in which one person is overly responsible and the other is dependent upon the responsible one. This relationship is considered co-dependent because the individuals involved fulfill unhealthy psychological needs for one another. In the situation discussed in this audio, the tendency is to not take responsibility for oneself but to depend on the other person.

If you fit in this category, you probably do not want to listen to this audio because it will be uncomfortable for you. Many people who are overly dependent do not consider themselves irresponsible. And certainly, if we use the dictionary definitions of irresponsible such as foolish and impulsive, it would not describe most of those who are co-dependent. However, if we look at other definitions of irresponsible such as careless, thoughtless, and negligent we may see how that fits with being overly dependent.

You most likely believe that you are a kind, thoughtful person. And perhaps, according to the way you think, you are. But co-dependency is defined by behavior, not by how you think. In other words, it is important to examine your behavior and how it affects others.

Most people who are overly dependent are in denial about their behavior. They may convince themselves that they are incapable and the other person “should” take care of them if they love them. I once had a client who needed to learn to be more independent say “I should be loved just the way I am.” I said to him, “I don't see you dating homeless women from the streets. If you have standards for who you date, why isn't it reasonable to change yourself so that you are more lovable?”

It is important to break through this denial and look at your behavior as others see it and examine how it impacts your life. Recognize that you are not a victim but a creator of your life. Otherwise, you are likely to experience negative outcomes again and again.

Why is being overly dependent a problem? Because, most of the time it seriously affects your relationships. You may find and develop a relationship with someone who is an overly responsible care-taker type of personality and, at first, it might seem to be a good relationship. But eventually, the care-taker becomes resentful because they view the relationship as one-sided. They are always giving and never receiving anything in return. Let's look at the dictionary definition of irresponsibility again. From another person's point of view, such one-sided behavior may appear to be thoughtless and even negligent of the relationship.

You might think that you are giving in your relationship. However, if you are not giving what the other person needs, you are not truly participating in the relationship. And even a care-taker needs support, comfort, and someone to rely on at times.

As uncomfortable, or even painful, as it might be, you need to examine your behavior from the perspective of other people. How does it impact them? Typically, overly dependent people appear to be self-centered from the perspective of others. They seem to be primarily concerned with themselves and what will happen to them. Sometimes this is true even when their worries are about others. That might seem a little confusing, but to understand this statement you need to understand the core of your worries. For instance, if you are fearful of harm coming to someone else, is it because of how that might impact you? Or, if you a parent and concerned about the behavior of your children, is it because you want to help them have a good life, or is it because of how you might look to others if your children have problems? If you worry that a new job may be unhealthy for your spouse due to the travel involved, is it because you would have to face the anxiety about being alone?

On the surface, concerns and worries may appear to be focused on others, but for someone who is overly dependent, there is usually a self-focused core to the concerns. You might ask, “why does it matter what underlies my behavior if I am showing concern for others?” The reason it matters is because others will know whether it is true concern or if it is about you and fear of consequences to you. Typically, this is because your worries and fears will have the effect of strangling others rather than letting them grow. If your concerns ultimately make you feel better, then it is about you. In fact, when we are truly concerned about someone else, we may even feel worse when doing what is best for them. For example, letting a child solve a problem on her own without interference may be uncomfortable for you but might be good for her.

Some people who are overly dependent are anxious and fearful of failure. They don't want to make decisions because they might make a mistake. They don't trust themselves and don't want to take a risk. Therefore, they let others decide for them. As long as they don't make the decision, they believe they don't have to take responsibility for the outcome. However, that is wrong! When you let others make your decisions, you ARE making a decision. You have decided to not choose. Therefore, if you don't like the outcome, it is important to recognize that you are responsible for that outcome when you LET someone else make the decision. That was YOUR choice.

Other people who are overly dependent either haven't learned the skills to care for themselves or find it easier to let someone else take care of them. This type of dependent person will often be seen by others as lazy or uncaring about their impact on others. At first, the responsible person in this co-dependent relationship willingly takes care of them. However, eventually, the person is likely to become frustrated. Sometimes this frustration is directed at the dependent person through criticism and demands. Unfortunately, such a reaction tends to lend credence to the dependent person's belief that they are a helpless victim rather than helping them to see the necessity of taking responsibility in their life.

Whatever the reason is for your dependency, it is important to recognize that you are responsible and only you can make the changes. The only change the other person who is part of the co-dependent relationship can make is to stop taking responsibility for you. However, that often leads to the end of the relationship unless you change as well.

Therefore, if you want to have better relationships, you need to recognize that it is up to you. Your life is your responsibility. You are in control of what happens. Not others. Giving someone else control over your life, not making decisions, not sharing in the nurturing of your relationship, IS irresponsible. You can change that!

Certainly, it may be difficult. But will it be difficult when loved ones leave you because they can't tolerate the relationship anymore? Will it be difficult to be alone?

You are not the victim of other people's choices. You are the victim of your own. If you want a better life and better relationships, you have to be determined to take responsibility for your life no matter how hard it might be. It is up to you. It is your choice. Do you choose to continue to be dependent, believing that you are a helpless victim, or do you choose to take control of your life? This has always been your choice.

As I said earlier, these words may be hard to hear. But if you don't heed them, you are likely to continue down the same path. There is a reason you are listening to this audio. You don't want to continue down that path. You don't want to continue to experience the consequences of dependency. So, it is up to you. And you CAN do it, if you want to. You can face the discomfort, the anxiety, the feelings of failure or whatever else is necessary to create a better life. It is not the responsibility of others to make you happy, it is your responsibility. Only you can do that.

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