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Money Psychology: Financial Codependency Could Be Behind Your Financial Woes
Money Psychology

Money Psychology: Financial Codependency Could Be Behind Your Financial Woes

In every family, there is always that one person everyone knows they can go to when in financial need because they can never say no.

Are you this person who always puts the financial needs of others before your own? If you are wondering or you took time to process this, then this article is meant for you. Knowledge is power. In life when we’re able to unshackle ourselves from what holds us back, we become totally different and new persons. It is the same with finances.

What is Financial Codependency?

When we place the financial needs of others above our own, we are in a situation known as financial codependency.

Codependency puts a person in a situation where they prioritise others and their needs- while most often than not- neglecting themselves.

When this persists, unmet expectations see resentment growing on both sides.

Financial codependency has a huge effect on the financial well-being of an individual and it is important to understand what it is and how to deal with it.

Codependency, if it goes unnoticed, has serious consequences including the loss of savings and/or property, damage to your credit, accrual of additional debt, or a slowdown in the repayment of existing debt. Also, one can't take advantage of investment and wealth-building opportunities as a result of these negative effects. Generally, one’s self-esteem and self-confidence deteriorate over time.

Dr. Jonathan E. Becker defines codependency as any relationship where two people are so invested in each other that functioning independently is almost impossible for them.

The psychiatrist at the NeuroScience & TMS Treatment Centres says that people who are emotionally or psychologically dependent on a partner are said to be codependent. Because codependency is borne out of a need for feeling loved or to be validated, as we’ll see below, codependents tend to overdo everything in terms of their emotional and monetary support.

What Leads to Someone Becoming Codependent?

Most behaviours are learned in childhood and they persist into adulthood and the cycle can be repeated for generations. Some, however, can be adopted later in life.

Some reasons why someone may be codependent are:

  • Being blamed for things beyond one’s control or those they could not do
  • Being judged harshly
  • Being ignored
  •  Abused and hurt by people they love
  • Being told their feelings don’t matter
  • Lack of guidance and boundaries
  • Their boundaries not being respected
  • Being uncomfortable with being oneself
  • Regularly being scared and anxious
  • Unmet emotional and physical needs

What Are the Signs You are In a Codependent Relationship?

Financial codependency can manifest itself in a variety of ways. These include;

  • Seeking the validation of other people

If what people say or think about you is what matters most to you, then it could be that you are codependent. If you get thrilled knowing that someone is happy because they applauded you, even when it comes at a cost to you, then this could be a sign of codependence.

  • Having trouble thinking and taking action on behalf of themselves

What would person A think if I did this? I am not sure that I can do it without their approval first.

Do these two scenarios describe what you- or someone you know- go through before making a decision, especially those that are forthright? Then it could be, just like with validation, that you are codependent. Decisions which could be made in the spur of a moment but end up requiring another person’s input could be a sign of codependence. Also, if there is a lot of second-guessing even when the decision needed is straightforward, then consider evaluating your relationship.

  • Being addicted to relationships where there is a struggle with boundaries

The relationships we have are a good sign of where we are at. If you are in one where you struggle with acceptance despite the fact that you are a key player financially or emotionally, then this could be a sign of codependence. If it feels abusive, then you can consider taking a step back and analysing the relationship for a better perspective of where you need to be.

  • Seeking to please others by making sacrifices over and over

Financial codependency, for instance, is when you put other people's financial needs ahead of your own. If this happens with you, then you can consider looking at your relationship from a different perspective to get a better understanding of where you stand and if you need to change. 

Also, if you feel bad when you are unable to offer financial help even when you yourself are in need, then it could be that you are codependent.

The most prevalent codependent trait of someone is the urge to fix or control a situation or another individual.

Couples, families and friendships may find themselves in this situation.

Codependency is characterised by the other person in the relationship being the enabler, who seeks to exert control over and attempt to repair the other person.

For example, a couple who spends extravagantly to conceal the flaws in their marriage and make their lives appear "perfect" to others is an example of this. To keep the other person happy, the codependent person devotes all of their energy, time and resources to this endeavour.

It is also possible for codependents to attempt to "rescue" or "save" the person they are dependent on. For instance, the codependent person may pay someone's past-due bills and fees.

A codependent's biggest desire is to feel needed, worthy and valued which lies at the heart of any attempt to remove them from a situation. All of this ties back to their drive to please others and to feel worthy. All of these acts are examples of enabling, which encourages the other person to continue in their habits.

These kinds of scenarios are typical in many types of relationships, not only those between couples, family and friends.

What is noteworthy is that it also doesn't matter how long the relationships have been going on. When it comes to meeting strangers for the first time or maintaining long-term relationships, people-pleasing will take over for the codependent.

Another common trait among families with children is where there is parental and child financial codependency. It is common for parents to give their children money on a regular basis as an act of love.

If this persists, the child's ambition to work and earn their own money may fade away with time. Despite the fact that the child grows up to be a perfectly healthy and intelligent adult, they continue to get financial assistance from their parents even when they are totally capable of supporting themselves.

As a child grows older, the anticipation of obtaining money from their parents grows greater.

In some families, a child receiving money from their parents as an expectation can even serve as a tie between them. As mentioned earlier, in others, money can serve as a form and expression of love between them.

As the now-adult child starts their own family, this persists and they can pass it on to the next generation and the cycle continues.

 Is it possible to End codependency?

The answer to this is yes.

Developing the beliefs and behaviours that make us codependent is not our fault, but if we desire better for ourselves, it is our job to change them.

We can re-learn the beliefs about ourselves and others that we've accumulated over time. Codependents can begin to replace the difficult behaviours with healthier ones if they are able to recognise themselves in this capacity. 

Slowly, they will be able to recognise their own worth and begin to live their lives according to their own desires, needs and merits.

Clinical psychologist Mary-Catherine Segota, describes enabling, the biggest thing that co-dependents do, as a behaviour that is used to alleviate relationship tensions caused by someone’s bad habits. This could be a friend, partner or a family member.

Giving the offending parties another chance, bailing them out time and again, accepting their excuses, always trying to fix the problem, or constantly intervening in other ways are all examples of enabling behaviour.

How To Start Dealing With Codependency

Recognizing financial codependency is the first step toward overcoming it. You can regain control of your finances and start moving forward. Acknowledge your behaviour and that of your loved ones and its roots as you move forward.

Start prioritizing your own needs over the needs of others by becoming self-aware. Take care of yourself first. Taking good care of yourself is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and those around you.

Set boundaries by making it clear to a loved one what you can or cannot do for them. Then, stick to your word. Setting rules and consequences for your loved one's bad behaviour can also be a way of preventing it from happening in the future.

Set and enforce boundaries with loved ones as a way of advocating for yourself, your wants and desires.

Ask yourself why you're so compelled to give so much. If it sounds like you're trying too hard to make up for something, then ask whether this is an attempt to fill a gap.

Is it your hope that taking care of other people's needs will make them more appreciative of you? Afraid that if you don't, they will walk away from you? Acknowledge that you're good the way you are and take action.

Consider not stretching yourself to be accepted since this isn't helpful or healthy.

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Njenga has over 8 years experience in multimedia and business journalism both as a writer, editor and producer. He has over 5 years of experience in radio broadcasting as a news reader, reporter and presenter. He is also a 2012 Earth Journalism Network-EJN Fellow.

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