Codependency is a complicated behaviour pattern in which people become extremely dependent on others for their sense of worth and sense of who they are as a person. Codependents have an increased risk of developing anxiety and fear when they are alone because of their ingrained need for external validation and approval. This article will discuss the difficulties codependents face when they are alone, the effects solitude has on their emotional health, and the steps they can take to welcome solitude as a chance for growth and healing.

The Effects of Codependency on Your Emotional Health and Happiness
People who develop codependency often did so because they lacked adequate emotional boundaries as children, a result of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Codependents, who have low self-esteem to begin with, perpetuate these patterns into their adult relationships by constantly seeking the other person’s approval and validation. They stay in abusive or toxic relationships because they are afraid of being alone and rejected.

Increased Nervousness and Panic When Isolated
When codependents are by themselves, they are forced to deal with the reality that they no longer have anyone to rely on to validate their feelings. Anxiety is a common emotion because people are afraid that others will dismiss them as boring, unlovable, or unworthy of love and care. Isolation only serves to heighten their innate insecurity that they are not good enough. The fear of being abandoned forever is a major source of stress for people who are codependent. In order to avoid feeling alone and dealing with their feelings, some people will stay in toxic relationships just to have someone to talk to all the time. For people who are highly dependent on others, being alone can bring on a crushing feeling of emptiness. They have grown accustomed to getting their sense of worth from other people, so when that stops, they feel like their lives have no point or meaning. They may long for a significant other because they know how much their care and attention means to you. Codependency develops as an attempt to fill the yawning void caused by emotional dependence.

Codependents often put the needs of others before their own, either by clinging to unhealthy relationships from the past or actively seeking out new ones. However, this reinforces their codependency and hinders their growth as an individual.

Identity Dissolution – Coming to Terms with Who You Are Apart from Other People
When a codependent person is by themselves, they often struggle with a loss of identity as a major obstacle. The people they know and the roles they play within those groups shape who they are and how they see themselves. People who are codependent often have trouble figuring out who they are apart from the people in their lives who fill those roles. Codependents may become profoundly perplexed about their own motivations and values. After years of putting everyone else’s needs before their own, they may lack the tools necessary to advocate for themselves. They may feel even more alone and vulnerable as they ask themselves, “Who am I without others?”

A Perfectionist’s Fall into Self-Criticism and Guilt
When left alone, codependents may become mired in a cycle of self-blame and guilt. With no one around to divert their attention, they may dwell on their shortcomings as a person and the broken relationships they’ve had in the past. They keep telling themselves they aren’t good enough, so they keep telling themselves that they can’t be loved or happy. Codependents might also feel bad about putting themselves first or taking care of themselves. This shame results from internalising the message that they owe it to others to put their own emotional and mental well-being last. This kind of behaviour can have a negative impact on their health and increase their levels of anxiety and fear.

Wanting to Be Accepted While Desperately Seeking Connection
When isolated, codependents experience a heightened intensity of their innate craving for emotional connection and intimacy. In order to feel complete and safe, they require constant social interaction and approval. They will sacrifice their own needs for the sake of any kind of connection because they are too afraid of their own feelings and the pain of being alone. To avoid being alone, a codependent may choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship or engage in a toxic dynamic. This keeps them stuck in unhealthy patterns of relating to others and themselves, feeding the cycle of codependence.

Avoiding one’s inner work by actively seeking distractions and escapes
Codependent people often seek out diversions or other ways to avoid the pain of isolation. Some people find temporary relief from their feelings through activities such as excessive use of social media, overwork, compulsive caregiving, substance abuse, or involvement in codependent relationships. The problem is that these strategies only provide temporary relief and can actually make their codependency issues worse. The ability to overcome codependence and establish healthy emotional independence is hampered when codependents avoid introspection and development.

Codependents face significant difficulties coping with anxiety and fear when they are forced to spend time alone. Codependence involves a web of interrelated emotions and behaviours, such as the fear of being alone and rejected, feelings of overwhelming emptiness and identity crisis, feelings of self-criticism and guilt, a desperate need for human connection, and the pursuit of distractions. But learning to value and benefit from one’s own company can be a profoundly life-altering experience.

The first step in escaping the trap of codependence is becoming aware of and accepting these patterns. Therapy and support groups, for example, can provide invaluable guidance and support as you face these obstacles. The road to emotional independence and a healthier, more fulfilling life begins with developing a stronger sense of self, setting healthy boundaries, and prioritising self-care. By learning to value alone time as a time for introspection and development, codependents can break free of their anxiety and fear and build more secure bonds with themselves and others.

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