“No.” Two letters, one word, one syllable. Same with the word “yes”, only with the exception of the difference of one additional letter. Our parents have taught us to say both; but particularly “no” when it comes to talking to strangers or doing something we know is wrong. So why is it so hard now to utter those exact phonemes, when the latter word is longer and carries more responsibility?
Because what we were also taught as children is the vitality of kindness. Perhaps we were too young at certain points of our lives to comprehend compassion, or have not yet the capacity to learn why empathy is so engrained in our psyches. We are educated, informed of the phrase “sharing is caring” in kindergarten. And while there is nothing inherently evil about telling a child to share his or her toys, what some of these behaviors may simultaneously influence into you as a reliable, good individual is a meek, too-nice codependent who struggles to spit out a simple two-letter word that we all probably knew since we were tots.
Why? Well, simply because despite all of the selfish, narcissistic people in the world; we believe it is our duty as “good” samaritans or even just human beings to constantly help those in need – to be there for our family, friends, significant others; to complete our provided tasks and work honestly, or even precede beyond than what is asked of us. For all of the cruel words and doings of our fellow “dependents” or “narcissists”, we accept or even feel coerced to abide by our obligations to “fix” the issue at hand; to be “nice”.
And that’s where being “nice” becomes being too “nice”, when over-submissiveness and diplomacy collaborate into the realm of codependency. If we don’t comply; we feel heartless, accountable for the pain that surrounds us and extinguishes our loved ones. Even though our dependents may not reciprocate that same effort for us, we misplace remorse and believe their well-beings are our responsibilities.
Of course, codependency can arise from circumstances in our lives that may attribute to the fault of no one. The meaning of codependency originally derived from the codependent – or, in other words, “caretaker” – who sacrificed their needs and put a dependent alcoholic’s first, babysitting and watching their every move. However, this definition now also extends to taking care of a relative, friend or significant other with a disability, illness or any ailment that hinders them from fending for themselves.
Of course, codependency is understandable. You would take care of a loved one if they were sick, and it’s not their or your fault. It makes sense that you would preserve their health and monitor their safety. Maybe you can’t afford a personal support worker or home’s assistance. Perhaps you don’t know many family members or friends who can distribute or share what you’re caretaking. But while not unintentional or justifiable, what this does is create an environment and mentality that you feel entrapped in and are fighting to escape – a world where everyone’s needs are more “important” than your own, a world where you’re so busy taking care of others that you can’t take care of yourself.
That’s when your “kindness” overcompensates and overrides into becoming codependency. That’s when helping people becomes your personality, your mission, your addiction.
Somehow, all you do is attract even more dependents to aid.
Within this “selfie” generation, we’ve become so “Selfish” (as Kim Kardashian’s newest book release would prove). It’s all about “me, me, me”, and recent studies claim that our obsession with social media have turned us into narcissists. In a society where 20-somethings and teens typically post filtered Instagram pics for “likes”, or other info about themselves to one-up each other, milestones become less of meaningful celebrations and more of opportunistic documentations to compete against each other. It’s all about who has the best job, partner, body – and as insecure as this may seem, it just makes us focus all the more on how we may be struggling less than someone else is – in order to make ourselves feel better. We pity the person going through issues we may not understand, and neglect to even ask what’s wrong or feel empathy for them. Instead, we manipulate that person into becoming our codependent – since our needs are so much more important than anyone else’s!
With a new generation only out to benefit themselves and stomp on others who they believe are in their way, it’s hard to ween out the fake from the genuine – all of these new-age narcissists who are perfect magnets for their polar opposite codependents. Codependents are addicted to helping others, and just like any addiction – even if it does sound like too much of a good thing – there’s a rock bottom. Codependents subconsciously appeal or seek to be altruistic to their latest projects in “need”, the narcissists. They always want to fix the “broken”, want to change these dependents. Just like some codependents may utilize their nurturing nature to aid the unfortunate in their career or volunteering (positive), others may romantically pursue “bad boys” (or girls) in hopes of helping them with their issues (potentially negative).
And when everyone knows you’re a codependent, they aren’t afraid to take advantage. Maybe some don’t realize, or perhaps your boundaries aren’t made clear to them. With catering to the needs of a physically or mentally ill/disabled person, it’s a different story. Respectively, they may require an extra hand or two. They may live in situations that are quite permanent. But, the narcissist knows exactly what they’re doing and will prey on the “weak” (aka “kind”). They will twist your words and make you believe their lies, or convince you they didn’t say something they did previously (a form of gaslighting).
Beware of the “friends” who only call you when they need something; who beg you for money and rides, because of emergencies. Sure, some of these scenarios are urgent and true; but others may be deceiving you when they guilt-trip you into lending them a few bucks before they get “evicted”, or driving them all the way downtown for another reason when they can’t just admit they’re too lazy to take the bus. Sure, maybe these lies are covering up desperate times they don’t want you knowing about. But you can only do so much and even if these dependents aren’t crying wolf every time they suddenly need your help again, you have to ask yourself – what if you weren’t there? Why is it your job, your responsibility, or your purpose to fulfill their needs? Why are their needs more crucial than your’s?
Beware of the people in your life who expect you to drop everything for them and don’t realize you have your own issues you need to tend to, or even free time to just enjoy and relax! Everyone has responsibilities; even if they’re jobless or single. They may be suffering from health issues or family problems. Your time, feelings and you alone are just as valuable; they shouldn’t be disrespected or minimized. Even if you’re always available to them and respond to their words efficiently, that should be seen as a good quality. In the dating world and world in general though, you will receive scrutiny for this. If someone’s there for you all the time, you shouldn’t perceive their character to be invasive or clingy – especially when you’re the one initiating and inviting them to spend time with you. Unfortunately, people respect you less the more you respect them. In this new generation of selfishness, you thrive more as a narcissist.
Certain situations in your life may inevitably shape you into a more sympathetic and considerate person. But, be careful who you let in – as many will realize this and use your beautiful heart to control you instead. It’s a vicious cycle, because you’re just a sweet person and you can’t help but think when someone’s in need, they could be telling the truth and need your help. If you don’t help, your strong conviction is that you’ll be the one to blame!
So next time someone wants to hang out, ask yourself if they really want to see you or if they’re just bored, lonely and you’re close by or “convenient” to fit in their schedule. If a guy (or girl!) complains that you text them too quickly, ask yourself if someone who only wants to hear from you on their time is worth your’s. Make a plan or a list of what you need to do, and if someone’s not respecting your wishes as you are their’s, explain to them that you need to focus on yourself first. If they can’t understand that simple fact, then try to keep yourself busy and weigh out your priorities – fast. Remember: you need to take care of yourself before you take care of others.