Decision Paralysis + Codependency: When My Emotions Depend on Your Emotions

This week has been a metaphorical ringer.

Work stress. Relationship stress. Family stress. Home stress. STRESS STRESS STRESS!

You know those weeks where you wake up every morning in a panic like you’ve dropped the ball on something major? If you didn’t know – I do not preach meditation because I’m oh so peaceful, I preach meditation because I’m pretty sure it’s already saved me from early onset high blood pressure.

A huge struggle this week has been the need to make important choices amidst difficult circumstances. The reason choices are so hard, particularly during stressful seasons, is because there’s often not a right or wrong answer. Most choices come with a slew of positive and negative repercussions that need to be carefully weighed out. Most choices take both data collection plus faith to believe we have what it takes and the universe is going to come through for us.

On top of considering what decision is best, often we’re hit in the face with the impact our decision may have on others → CUE CODEPENDENCY.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t good to consider the impact of our choices on friends, family, and coworkers, what I am saying is external voices cannot be perpetually louder than our own.

A solid definition of codependency I’ve always loved: “I’m not okay, if you’re not okay.”

What I love about this definition, is that it sounds pretty innocent and common, right? Many romantically involved couples could make this their mantra, “Baby, my happiness is your happiness…. I can’t be happy if you’re not happy….” blah blah dysfunctional.

It does sound romantic, doesn’t it? Kinda sweet?


Codependency goes hand in hand with boundaries and the same outcome of a boundary-less person occurs with a codependent person: we lose who we are in pursuit of another person’s well-being. The outcome is typically resentment and polarization – we revolve our world around someone until the lack of self care builds up that we think we need to cut that person completely out of lives to survive, when really we could’ve just been a little more in touch with our needs and feeling state.

Unfortunately, parts of society totally glorify the completely selfless and helpful person. So we give and give and revolve our whole life around the happiness of another person until we SNAP and find ourselves on one of those “who done it” murder podcasts.

Codependency historically shows up for me in my romantic relationships, professional relationships, family, friendships…. wait that’s everything 🙂

Healing from codependency is like putting the airplane mask on your face before placing it on the face of your helpless 3 year old. The metaphor continues, because the truth is we become categorically unhelpful if we are dead or burnt out.

The lie of codependency is that because I am seeking the happiness and joy of those around me, those around me will do the same. I say this with all the love of a rather direct older sister: no one is responsible for our well-being but us. NO ONE can make us feel anything BUT US. Every time we hear ourselves saying, “you make feel [FILL IN BLANK]”, realize that our anger and frustration is our own, and while totally valid as all feelings are, they are not the responsibility of the other person to fix.

The beauty of taking the responsibility of joy into our own hands is that our relationships will no longer be fueled by the faint hope of what we could receive in return for our love. Instead, we love ourselves filling our own love buckets, making the love we dole out without a price tag attached but instead a free expression of love and relationship.

Work choices get especially confusing for the codependent. If we are burnt out at work, in need of self-care, chances are others in the office are in the same boat. Making choices about what we can and can’t take on may impact the workload of others and I speak from experience when I say that is VERY VERY hard. But GUESS WHAT – we still have to make choices based on what is right for us, and trust that others will do the same.

I am in the thick of choosing self love over codependency, and having to remind myself that self love is not selfish, but actually releases me to love the world from health and wholeness.

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