Denial Patterns–Characteristics of Codependency

Withdrawal SymptomsCodependent relationships involve an imbalance in which one partner ‘helps’ the other to the point of hurting themselves. Some of the main characteristics of codependency are feelings of low self-esteem and little sense of self-worth; compulsive behavior; abandonment fears, dependency, and difficulty knowing and asserting one’s needs.

Out of Touch with Your Own Reality

While relationships of all types are very complex, codependent relationships can be particularly so. Consequently, when you are in one, you may spend a good deal of time confused about what is really happening. One of the most common and most entrenched patterns of codependency involves denial which separates you from the reality of your situation. Denial weaves its way through all of the rest of codependent patterns and is a core aspect of the condition. In order to heal codependency, the denial must be continually addressed and monitored. The result of treating denial is that you become more conscious of your own situation and internal states. In short, you become more aware of your own reality.

Denial Patterns in Codependency

Denial manifests in many ways. However, the overarching theme of all forms is that they create and reinforce a psychological blind spot. Denial prevents us from accurately perceiving our inner and outer lives. It is a disordered perception originating in a dysfunctional family with dysfunctional rules and norms. Those dynamics are well summarized by rules and norms that tell you not to talk, feel or trust. In such families, we learn also not to think, feel or believe for ourselves.

How Denial Patterns Work

Below are some of the workings of denial patterns in the lives of people in codependent relationships. Codependents experience:

  • Confusion about their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and needs
  • Chronic low self-esteem, poor self-worth, depression, and anxiety
  • Compulsive behavior, or busy work/activity, to avoid bad feelings such as substance use, food issues, cleaning, shopping…
  • Difficulty accepting praise despite yearning for it
  • Physical ailments related to chronic stress
  • Pretense that things are fine; putting up a positive social facade
  • Feelings of being out of control, overwhelmed, incompetent or crazy
  • Avoidance of people and situations that threaten their reality
  • Minimization of problems–things aren’t that bad
  • Exaggerating the positive qualities of impaired partners