Coping with a codependent personality on a daily basis is emotionally stressful for the entire family. Codependent behavior is often manifest as a desire to control others, which can become detrimental to anyone around a codependent person. It is like living with an addict, as the family may become volatile. It is challenging not to let the behaviors of an insecure or controlling person dictate your own feelings.
It may be helpful to remember that codependent behaviors are usually learned, and are often unknowingly passed down through generations. When this occurs, the noticeable behaviors between parent, child, and grandchild can seem very different, but each individual may have taken her own unique behavioral stance to compensate for unhealthy conflict during her upbringing. This may help you understand the motivation behind your loved one's actions, as well as remind you not to allow their behavior patterns to control you. Part of this is recognizing when they are displaying codependent personality behaviors, such as publicly sabotaging you to keep you from turning your back on them, or continuing blaming you for their own problems.
You should also remember that a person with a codependent personality often does not realize that they are stifling the people around them. To them, their behavior seems rational because it keeps them keep control. Also, realize that their behaviors are difficult to change because to them, codependency has become the normal method of conducting their lives.
It is not entirely up to you to learn how to deal with a codependent personality. Seeking help in the form of therapy or support groups may be necessary. Even if the codependent person does not want to attend, other family members may find it helpful to learn a professional's definition of codependency and how to deal with the behavior. It may also help you express your feelings in order to remain calm when dealing with the codependent person. Opening communication lines will always strengthen a family, especially during these difficult times.
Becoming volatile towards a codependent personality can have an even negative effect. This type of person will often take your anger and use it to make himself the victim, because your anger reinforces his feelings of low self-worth and inadequacy. His victimization in turn can make you feel guilty, which it should not – you are not responsible for a codependent's behavior. This is why it is also helpful for the codependent to go to a support group. Speaking to others about his situation may help him keep his emotions in check and have a healthy discussion about the issues of codependency. However, please note that until a codependent person decides for himself that he needs help, it is futile to try to force him to take any corrective action. Until then, you can show love and support by being firm and refusing to enable the behavior.
Even if your codependent family member does not seek help, you should consider seeking it on your own. Understanding the condition can help you avoid developing a codependent personality yourself, and help you understand your family member's motivations. If they wish to seek help later, it will always be there. And you will be prepared to help them through the recovery process if you make the effort to understand codependency. Believe me, it is worth the effort when you emerge happy and healthy after the recovery process, stronger and closer than before.