So what does political correctness, lying, dishonesty, half-truths, anxiety, depression, comparison, offense, anger, bitterness, resentment as well as many other negative emotions and behaviors all have in common? They are all forms of…codependency. Even though I don’t like the word codependency since it is overly used in recovery and in therapy, I have found that it has such a wide meaning that it can be confusing. However, the term does serve a significant purpose in the recovery world.
Perhaps the term needs to be renamed “dependency addiction” or “approval addiction.” Let’s consider a working definition of approval addiction: 1) the act of betraying your core beliefs, dreams, goals, emotions, head, heart, and intuition (personally or professionally) momentarily in the hopes of gaining or winning the acceptance or approval of others. 2) Becoming a mirror of what we believe others want us to act like while betraying ourselves. 3) Behavior that tries to directly or overtly control or manipulate others perception(s) of you. 4) Taking personal responsibility of the positive and/or negative emotions of others as your own. 5) An emotional reaction to the positive and/or negative emotions of others making efforts to “fix” or “repair” the anxious situation to make you and them more comfortable. 6) The inability to set boundaries and maintain them by to saying “no.” 7) One who seeks and values the approval of humanity above the approval of God.
At some level, I believe we all struggle with an “approval addiction”. Let’s look at some areas where I have identified codependency in our culture:
- Political Correctness: Political correctness is the new codependency. In my opinion, political correctness is growing out of control in our Western culture. Social media has quickly multiplied and caused an explosion to desire the approval of everyone 24/7. Ironically, social media is creating a generation of narcissists who have no desire to connect or care about others but only to be cared for and thought well of by others.
- Lying, Dishonesty, & Half-Truths: It has been my observation that addicts in recovery who struggle with lying are also very codependent. The reason these behaviors exist is because many do not want to be thought poorly of in their personal or professional relationships.
- Anxiety and Depression: Usually, anxiety and depression exists, because an individual’s behaviors are not matching their core beliefs. They now have two options. They can change their core belief to match the codependent behavior, or they stop the self-betrayal by matching their core-belief with their behavior. Generally, the second is the easier of the two to accomplish. Anxiety and depression can manifest itself by believing we are not meeting the expectations of ourselves or others.
- Comparison: For couples and individuals in recovery (as well as living in just about any culture), comparison is such a big problem. Couples compare themselves to other “successful/happy” couples. Daily we are assaulted by the media that tries to lure us to purchase their products and to believe what we have is not good enough. We always need the newer, better upgrade. Comparison is all about codependency, and we never win that game. While driving to work, I can beat myself up by comparing my home, my car, my clothes and my income before I ever get out of my neighborhood.
- Being Offended: Offendedness is the last but not the least. It is perhaps the biggest offender of all when it comes to approval addiction. Let me explain. When one becomes offended, the person believes that someone or something disapproves of what was said or done. There is a disharmony between two parties.
I believe “approval addiction” slowly seduces a society by destroying our families, communities, government, religion, and denominations for the sake of a false appeasement or false intimacy. History has shown that cultures who disregard the approval of God and seek to gain the approval of men and women will eventually self-destruct from within.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.