Codependency is a term that refers to a type of imbalanced relationship, specifically when one or more people in a relationship over-rely on each other’s thoughts and feelings to define their own thoughts and feelings.
To understand why codependency occurs, we have to first start by looking at self-regulation. Self-regulation skills are various strategies we have learned to understand and manage our behaviors and reactions to feelings and things happening around us – essentially, how you emotionally regulate your own nervous system.
When we struggle to self-regulate, understandably, our body and mind seeks out something to help manage our emotions. Some people can become overly reliant on others in their efforts to manage their emotions, leading to codependency in their relationships.
So, how can we help each other in a healthy way, in times of distress?
Co-regulation is when a person is able to emotionally self-regulate enough to be able to help another person emotionally regulate – how your nervous system can affect another person’s nervous system. This is often characterized by warm and responsive interactions that provide support to another person.
Co-regulation is highly effective and can look many different ways, but it requires that each person involved knows how to self-regulate. Otherwise, the partnership is imbalanced. The good news is that self-regulation skills can continually be learned and bettered!
If you notice that you often over-rely on others and you would like to improve your self-regulation skills, speak to your therapist! That is a space where your therapist can help you learn new skills and explore what works best for you or what might be inhibiting your ability to use certain self-regulation skills. We are here to support you!