If you are codependent, you are most likely having problems with self esteem. You might be wondering how codependency and low self esteem go together.

In order to having a strong sense of self esteem, you must feel connected to your core inner self so that you can tune into how to love and care for yourself. Codependency is when your life revolves around someone else, and you lose that vital connection to yourself.

What Is Self Esteem

Self esteem is defined as feeling competent and able to cope with the many challenges that life brings. You also must feel that you are worthy of happiness. How you achieve happiness is what can lead to either high or low self esteem.

Instead of meeting your own needs, and developing self esteem, codependents focus on meeting the needs of others. Instead of figuring out how you feel, you get caught up in how others feel.

You wind up taking care of others instead of taking care of yourself. That leads to needing to control others so that you can feel okay, which then leads to low self esteem and pain. That is how codependency and low self esteem go together.

A codependent’s self esteem is based on how someone else judges them. Instead of taking care of your own needs, you are worrying about what someone else is doing or thinking. When you can solve your own problems and take responsibility for yourself, then you can feel good about you.

How Codependency And Low Self Esteem Go Together

If you are doing that for someone else, then you are not developing self esteem. Instead, you are suffering from codependency. You are getting your ‘esteem’ by taking care of someone else or solving their problems for them, or even taking on guilt for others when there is a problem.

Instead of trusting yourself to make good decisions, you procrastinate and worry that you are doing the wrong thing. You never feel like you are good enough, and judge yourself harshly.

You probably don’t even realize the extent of your self‐judgment. As a result, you are overly sensitive to criticism and can even feel criticized when you’re not. Being self-critical also makes you critical of others. This is how codependency and low self esteem go together.

Self acceptance is difficult for you. Then, when you do something well, you either feel embarrassed by the recognition, or seek praise to overcome feeling like you don’t measure up.

Codependents don’t feel worthy or lovable, so they put too much emphasis on approval from others. You might even lie in order to get approval.

Developing A Strong Sense Of Self

Being codependent means you are most likely missing a sense that you are your own person, separate from others, with your own very valid thoughts and feelings. When you have a solid sense of self, you can set healthy boundaries. You aren’t taking responsibility for someone else’s actions or feelings.

There are times when anxiety, heart sinking, or dread are feelings that warn you that your boundaries are being violated. If you can learn to pay attention to these warning signals and then act on them, you will start to feel better about yourself. This helps self esteem grow.

How Codependency And Low Self Esteem Go Together And Have Roots In Childhood

In order to have healthy self esteem, you need your own identity. This starts in childhood. If you felt safe to express your ideas, thoughts and feelings without being afraid of criticism or rejection by your caregivers, you were free to figure out who you were as a person, separate from others.

Rejection and abandonment are extremely difficult for a developing child. You need parents that don’t need you to be like them or have the same opinions as they do. Expressing yourself knowing that you will be received with respect is how you develop a strong sense of self esteem.

This is also important to healthy relationships later in life. Relationships thrive when you are both able to listen to each others feelings or opinions with respect and true interest in what you each have to say, even if you don’t agree.

That way, you aren’t blaming or defending. You are listening and curious about your partner. You are also stating your own thoughts and feelings without apologizing or worrying that you have to defend yourself.

Childhood Needs

When our caregivers give us acceptance, empathy, encouragement, comfort and guidance, they meet our emotional needs. We feel loved and cared for. That is the root of feeling good about yourself and worthy of happiness. As adults, we take care of ourselves in the same way that our parents modeled for us.

If parents are respectful, reliable and understanding, we can learn to love and care for ourselves. Play is also important in life, both as an adult and child. A balance of work and play are key to a happy life.

When your care givers failed you, you learned to care for your parents instead of yourself, and as an adult you can learn to reverse that cycle. As you work on how codependency and low self esteem together, learning how to develop healthy self esteem takes inner work and focus. If you get derailed by what someone else is doing, gently and lovingly bring the focus back to your own actions and thoughts.

Neurofeedback And EMDR

Methods such as neurofeedback and EMDR can help you work through and break out of patterns in childhood that no longer serve you. They make it easier to focus on yourself and your own development, rather than worrying about others.

Developing Self Esteem

Having high self esteem means knowing that you are ok, and that you can improve if you decide to put your mind to it. You are responsible for yourself and for others only when appropriate. Knowing that you are valuable and important, feeling competent and actually liking yourself are key to self esteem. You can trust yourself to be honest, have integrity and feel compassion towards yourself and others.

Self esteem means being able to identify your feelings and then figure out how to meet your emotional needs and advocate for yourself if needed. Everyone needs support and love from others. Keep in mind that the more self caring you are, the better relationships you will have.

I highly recommend the book “The Six Pillars of Self Esteem,” by Nathaniel Brandon. In this book, the author identifies the six practices that are essential for the nurturing and sustaining of healthy self-esteem. They are the practice of living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, purposefulness, and integrity.

If you can work on your self esteem, your codependency will start to get better. That is how codependency and low self esteem gotoghter. Escaping yourself and focusing on someone else undermines self esteem. Facing reality and being conscious nurtures self esteem. Moving towards consciousness and self-responsibility creates self esteem.

If you would like to work on improving your self esteem and start to face codependency, and you live in Santa Monica or Torrance, California, please reach out to me. My confidential voice mail is 310-314-6933 or email me at mfoxmft@yahoo.com.