Do you often find yourself in unbalanced and unhealthy relationships where you give most of the respect, care and love but you receive nothing in return? Despite the pain, many people choose to stay in this toxic and unhappy dance because they want to avoid the intense shame and loneliness that they will experience when they leave.
This is called codependency. However, they have given codependency a new and more appropriate name: self love deficit disorder or SLDD. People who are codependent suffer from behavioral conditions that come from being raised in a dysfunctional family.
In SLDD, you become dependent on your relationship with the abuser and put their needs before your own.
Telltale Signs of Self Love Deficit Disorder
At this point, you are likely wondering if you or someone you know is codependent.
The following are foolproof signs of self love deficit disorder:
- Putting others or your relationships before yourself
- Difficulty establishing boundaries
- Difficulty communicating how you feel
- Fixing things for others even if they don’t want the help
- Struggling to understand your feelings
- Feeling strongly attached to others
- Pinning your sadness or happiness on others
- Pleasing people is a priority
- Trying to control people and situations
Codependent people often won’t realise they have this behavior. In most cases, they block the traumas from their childhood that have caused the condition.
This makes it even harder for them to understand and trace where the dependent behavior stems from.
Seeing Codependency From Another Perspective
Self love deficit disorder is a term coined by psychotherapist Ross Rosenberg. The term codependency is a behavior condition that’s associated with being weak, needy, and emotionally fragile.
Considering the harsh descriptions, it’s understandable that most people don’t want to be labelled as such because of the stigma it brings. To remove the negative connotation, the term codependency was changed to self love deficit disorder.
The Five Stages of Self Love Deficit Disorder
Also known as the self love deficit disorder pyramid, below are the five stages of this behavior:
1. Attachment Trauma
In this first stage, narcissistic parents create trauma by being conditional with their love and attention. In similar scenarios, the child can grow up feeling unworthy.
2. Core Shame
The child begins to create a distorted sense of self. As a result of their parents’ behavior, they start to believe that they are only worthy when they feel invisible or when they are pleasing others.
3. Pathological Loneliness
This is considered the most painful stage. At this point, the individual will feel extremely unworthy and lonely.
4. Self love deficit disorder addiction
This is the self-medication part where victims alleviate their loneliness by becoming attracted to narcissists. They also try to balance or eliminate loneliness by deliberately staying in unhealthy relationships.
5. Self love deficit disorder
In people with self love deficit disorder, victims end up becoming a compulsive carer for others. They even become controlling in their attempt to make others love them.
The self love deficit disorder pyramid covers all the areas—from being traumatized or neglected by their parents to the condition developing in adulthood.
The steps are gradual and understandably, children won’t realise they went through all those stages.
No one does, and it’s one of the saddest things about self love deficit disorder.
People suffering from self love deficit disorder take on the burden, guilt, and shame of others simply because it is the only way they know how to get love.
It was what they learned as children.
As they grow older, they want to keep repeating the same relationship pattern they had with their parents.
Because it is comfortable.
Because it is what they are familiar with.
It’s not a healthy relationship.
However, for codependents, it feels right.
Because it’s something they are familiar with.
It’s something they have known growing up.
Is there a way to resolve self love deficit disorder?
Many experts agree that codependency can be resolved.
However, the journey can be long and tough.
Understandably, being conditioned into feeling a specific way since childhood is no easy prison to break out of
The good thing? It’s not impossible as well.
With good support, willpower, and a can-do attitude, you can overcome codependency and turn your life around for good.
Below are some of the effective ways you can pull yourself out of the vicious cycle of codependency:
Accept that you are codependent.
Before you can start healing, you need to accept that you have a codependency problem.
You can’t start working through habits, emotions, or traumas until you stop being in denial about your situation.
While it’s not always easy to admit that it’s a problem you have to work with, it should not be seen as shameful.
The quicker you are able to accept and acknowledge that you have this problem, the sooner you can begin your healing.
Figure out your codependent qualities.
Even if you have been oblivious about your codependency problem, it is likely that you notice a certain pattern in your relationships.
The idea is to be truthful and honest with yourself.
What classic codependent behavior patterns do you notice?
Do you often put everyone else’s needs before your own?
Do you act irrationally when your significant other wants to do something on their own?
Humans have the tendency to repeat behaviors so it is likely that you notice certain patterns emerging.
From there you can determine the codependent traits you have and what your triggers are.
Dig deep into your past.
Codependency is often traced back to childhood—to the relationships you have had with your parents or your primary caretakers.
It also often develops in individuals with over or under protective parents.
As difficult as it might be, you need to look back and remember how you were treated by your parents, friends, or other influential people in your life.
Did you notice any narcissistic tendencies in your parents?
How they treated you can have a massive impact on how you treat yourself once you become an adult yourself.
Give yourself plenty of love and care.
It is important to realise and acknowledge that you can’t go back and heal the child who was raised codependent.
But you can heal your adult self. Explore your mind, body and emotions. Figure out what you love to do.
Acknowledge what makes you feel bad. Choose to focus primarily on yourself and listen to your thoughts.
Let go of whatever else is happening around you.
Until you reach the point where you can fully understand yourself and become in tune with your body, you won’t be able to develop a healthy relationship with others.
Creating that relationship with yourself can be challenging and tricky.
And at times, it can also be tough, draining, and exhausting.
However, it is an essential aspect you need to work on if you want to enter into a healthy relationship with others.
Surround yourself with support and love.
While the journey to healing can be difficult, having a loving family and supportive friends can make a world of difference.
There will be times when you will start to slip back into old habits or questionable choices.
Your supporters will be there to help guide you and cheer you on.
Even if it’s your therapist, having a strong support system and love can make a massive difference in your healing.
Learn to say no.
After saying yes all the time, it is going to be difficult once you start to say no.
However, if you really want to overcome codependency, you need to learn to use that two letter word and use it when needed.
Saying no should not be a cause for conflict.
It does not mean you don’t like or care about the people you are with, be it your family, friends, or significant other.
What it means is you are unable to help at the moment.
It means you are putting yourself first and doing what is best for your mental and emotional health.
Establishing boundaries is your way of creating and showing self-respect.
You are listening to your body’s needs and you are prioritising your needs before that of others.
Remove yourself from narcissistic relationships.
Aside from surrounding yourself with loving and supportive people, it is also important that you remove toxic people from your life.
Start with the narcissists.
As a codependent, you will be drawn to them and there’s a good chance you will encounter many of them in your lifetime.
Staying in toxic relationships is going to get in your way of developing self-respect and self-love.
On the other hand, if you have a supportive partner who truly cares about you, it would be great to have them on your journey to self-healing.
A loving partner can be a great source of love and comfort.
Therapy can help in various ways.
From helping you work through past traumas to helping you understand why you behave a certain way, experts can help you rise about codependency.
Therapists can also provide the techniques and tools you can use if you notice that you are slipping back into old habits.
Their help and guidance can also help you power through and continue to be self-loving and independent.
Over to You
It can be tough working and resolving codependency. And expect that you won’t be able to resolve this challenge overnight. However, with commitment, the right support system, and plenty of self-love, you can power through your codependent tendencies and develop the self-love and self-respect you should have had all along.