Are you dependent?

Before reading this article, here's a test that will help you answer that question. Take the time you need to answer each one properly. Use one of the following words as your answer:

Answer the following questions by one of these answers:

  1. I change my mind when someone I hold in esteem expresses a different opinion from mine.
  2. I find it hard to decide anything without someone else's approval or advice.
  3. I want some appreciation when I devote myself to somebody.
  4. I need compliments in order to know that I did OK.
  5. I need to be extraordinary before congratulating myself.
  6. I lose interest in what needs to be done when I am alone.
  7. I need to turn the radio or television on as soon as I get home (if I'm alone).
  8. I feel abandoned or rejected when someone doesn't take care of me. I seek his attention.
  9. I attract people with problems. They confide in me easily and seek my help.
  10. I feel I have no time left for myself because I'm too busy doing things for others.

Score yourself as follows:
Never = 0
Sometimes = 1
Often = 3
Always = 5

40 to 50 points = very dependent
20 to 40 points = moderately dependent
10 to 20 points = slightly dependent
0 to 10 points = you don't depend on others in order to be happy

I suggest you ask someone who knows you very well to fill out this questionnaire in order to verify your answers because our ego gets in the way sometimes and it's difficult seeing ourselves with complete objectivity.

What does 'Being dependent' mean?

We can say a person is dependent when he can't fulfill himself without somebody else's intervention or action. Consequently, he allows such a person to have authority over him. Dependency is experienced at the emotional level because the person's happiness can't be complete unless he affects someone else or is affected by another person.

Why do we become dependent?

Quite simply because we don't love ourselves enough. We lack self-esteem and have developed over time a poor self-image.

Lack of responsibility is another important element. Most people are unaware of the spiritual definition of "responsibility»: each and every one of us is the creator of his own reality, of his life. As kids, we were ignorant of this fundamental law and therefore believed that others were responsible for our misfortune or happiness. So when nobody meets our emotional needs, we end up lacking in affection while still expecting to receive some from those around us.

Here are the steps we go through on the way to becoming dependent:

  1. A child experiences a lack of emotional support. This doesn't mean that his parents didn't love him. The lack seems real to the child because it was registered as such in his memory, according to his own perception and feelings.

  2. The lack causes some distress, which is registered in the physical, emotional and mental bodies of the child.

  3. The child then determines that the lack is due to him, meaning that he's not kind enough, not important enough for someone to take care of him like he wants. He blames himself for lacking something within him, which explains why those around him can't love him the way he wants. He possesses a very poor self-image and withdraws into himself a bit more every day.

  4. In order to survive, he decides to do everything in his power to stop this unremitting pain. The behavior he adopts is contrary to his true nature and gradually becomes what others would like him to be.

  5. He finds a physical substitute to help him diminish the pain he feels. Such substitute will help create the illusion of fullness and therefore compensate for the feeling of emptiness resulting from the lack of emotional support. He becomes convinced that happiness comes from an outside source.

    • Cigarette
    • Alcohol
    • Drugs and medication
    • Coffee or tea
    • Sugar (candy, chocolate, cookies, desserts, cola, etc.)
    • Television, radio, telephone, computer, Internet
    • Sports
    • Books
    • Sex

In order to know if these substitutes are dependencies, abstain from using one of them for a week. At the end of the week, if you haven't felt like you lacked something or haven't experienced any pain whatsoever, it means that the substitute isn't a real dependence, but rather a preference or habit.

This exercise will help you become aware of your level of dependency. For example, if you can't do without sugar for more than a day, it means that your dependence is greater than what it would be if you could abstain from using it for a period of five days. However this exercise is useless if you control and force yourself into abstinence when you feel the lack. Your degree of dependence won't be any less.

If you realize that you depend on several physical substitutes, this means that your emotional dependence is severe.

The root cause of the state of dependence is not sugar, or any other substitute for that matter, it is emotional.

Here are the different types of emotional dependencies.

  • To depend on the approval or opinion of others:It's believing that when others agree with us, it's proof of their love for us. Such a way of thinking demonstrates that a person does not trust his own opinion and is afraid to make a mistake, this being the outcome of his lack of self-love. A person can also change his mind or question himself the moment somebody else expresses a disagreement or doesn't share his opinion about a specific choice or decision.
  • To depend on the acknowledgement and gratefulness of others: The ones susceptible to have this dependence are those who believe they never do enough for others. They sacrifice themselves in order to be loved, hoping their effort will be acknowledged. The moment some gratefulness is shown, they feel loved and re-energized. Their emotional void has been temporarily replenished.
  • To depend on compliments: The person in need of compliments in order to sense love believes he is not good enough and harbours feelings of self-doubt. He often compares himself with others whom he considers better than him and has great difficulty in complimenting himself. He is the type to try impressing others.
  • To depend on the presence of others: Numerous people just simply can't feel good while being on their own during several hours, let alone a whole week. They are the type to easily feel rejected, abandoned and isolated from others. The presence of another person is a sign of love and affection for them. Whenever there is somebody around or not too far away, they feel good. As soon as they are alone, they lose interest in everything. What they find interesting while with another person becomes boring when alone. They run in circles when lonely. As soon as they have company, they get a sudden burst of energy. Even a person living by himself can be dependent of the presence of others, but they don't feel it because the radio, television, telephone or Internet acts as substitutes.
  • To depend on the attention of others: A person can depend on the attention of others as well as their presence, a state that indicates a greater degree of dependency. Those in need of attention attempt by all possible means to have someone around them with whom they can talk to or someone who can take care of them. They keep trying to enhance their self-esteem through those around them since they can't do it on their own. They don't know when to stop talking or when to leave when they pay a visit to somebody. They are often in the way or annoying.
  • To depend on feeling useful: This person likes to believe he is essential for the happiness of those around him. He is therefore attracted to people with multiple problems who readily confide in him. He enjoys doing things for others since he believes that he must sacrifice himself for them. He has great difficulty in acknowledging his own needs. Even though he complains from time to time about people taking advantage of him, it won't stop him from trying to continue his attempts to feel useful since it helps him fill the emptiness caused by his lack of self-love.
  • To depend on being controlled or dominated by others: Some people don't feel good unless others control them. However it doesn't necessarily mean that they are being submissive. For them, to be told what to do, how to do it and why is perceived as a gesture of love. They lack confidence in their own decision making process.

As you can see, there are several different ways to express your dependency. If you realize that many of the above forms of dependence are present in your life, it goes to show that you do quite a lot in order to be loved and it's time that you start loving yourself as you are instead of expanding so much energy into trying to be loved.

The degree of physical dependence = The degree of emotional dependence = The degree of lack of self-love

What are the consequences of being dependent?

Our mental body is not used properly because it's busy maintaining several false beliefs about ourselves as described above. Those beliefs give life to fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, disappointment, resentment and even hatred toward others and us. This body should instead be used to find ways to improve your life and to plan a course of action.

The emotional body is blocked because a dependent person rarely listens to his own desires and needs (which is the role of this body). The time he wastes trying to be loved keeps him from loving himself and others unconditionally.

As for the physical body, it's also affected every time a person fills his inner void by using one of the substitutes because he's not providing his body with what it really needs. Such situations are stressful to the body; they tire it and will eventually make it sick.

What can we do to reduce our dependency?

When you become aware of a physical dependence, thank your body because it has helped you realize that you were emotionally dependent.

When you have a craving for a substitute, take time to notice what emotional need has not been met. Is it a lack of approval, of acknowledgement, presence, attention, of feeling useful or a desire to be controlled by somebody? This question will enable you to establish the link between the physical dependence and your emotional dependence. (A small reminder: In order to become conscious of a physical dependence, you need to test how long you can deprive yourself of the substitute without controlling yourself.)

For example, let's consider a person with the following two dependencies: the television to fill the need of having a presence around and sugar when lacking acknowledgement. When the person realizes that he has a craving for sweets, he will know right away that he is in need of acknowledgement. Or when he feels a strong need to open his television set, he will know that he lacks somebody's presence to be happy.

If this is your case, determine how you can be grateful for who you are. If you are unable to do it, then ask somebody to do it for you.
Ask them to acknowledge you or be grateful for what you did (or
who you are, what you said, etc.). The very fact of admitting to
others your emotional dependence - as well as the means (substitute) you are using to fulfill it - will greatly help you during your recovery. The most important step toward transformation consists in giving yourself permission to be emotionally and physically dependent at
the present time.

If you try to control your physical dependence because you don't accept it, it means that you don't give yourself permission to be emotionally dependent. Not giving you such permission is the best way to keep on being dependent. The more we want to change something, the less it does. The more we accept a particular state of being by giving ourselves the right to be like we are for now (even though we disagree) and the more it changes. Why? Because it's a sign of self-love and such love holds a healing power greater than any other means at your disposal.

You will gradually get back in touch with the marvellous person you are and will love yourself more. Take whatever time you need to reach your goal. All human beings are dependent to some degree. We are all here to learn how to love ourselves more. So give yourself permission to be a human being with temporary lacks.

Lise Bourbeau

Learn to be happy

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