‘Why do I try and help someone that I dislike?’
This was a fundamental question that I didn’t really know how to answer at the time. Gradually, I realized that it was my woundedness projected on the other person, and by ‘helping’ the other, I was unconsciously attending to my own wounding.
Early on in my dating life, I became somewhat aware that I had codependency issues. Often, I would feel the urge to help. At the time I saw myself as sensitive and as an empath, but those labels didn’t reflect the destructive aspects of codependency.
Working in the helping profession—as a psychology lecturer, trainer, and coach—has helped me to recognize and deal with my codependency. But it has been a long journey to give up the role of the ‘savior’. Luckily this journey has brought a great sense of freedom in no longer feeling a need to help others all the time.
Everyone working in the helping profession must ask themselves the question of why they are motivated to help others and what it is that they gain from it. It was no different for me. In my capacity as a teacher, I saw in my classroom that whenever I was ‘helping too much,’ my students would sit back and become dependent on my instructions. Coming face to face with this involuntary effect was eye-opening for my other relationships as well. I had to ask myself:
- When I am helping, am I unconsciously stimulating the dependency of the other on me?
- Is my way of helping beneficial for the other person’s autonomy?
- How do the helping dynamics play out in my romantic relationships?
- Is helping my way of trying to be in control?
These questions prepared me to move into the next stage of reflection and work. I noticed another feature of my codependency, which was having difficulties in witnessing the other person dealing with the effects of their behaviors. This was especially the case when it was quite painful for them. I tended to step in wanting to regulate their emotions.
As a beginning coach, I became aware that I was, sometimes, trying to erase the natural effect that one has to pay as a price for their behavior. So I had to dig deep and face the feelings of guilt, of no longer doing this for my clients. I also asked myself:
- Why do I make myself responsible for someone else’s emotions?
- Why do I feel guilty when I am not helping?
- What am I avoiding while feeling guilty?
- How am I unconsciously regulating the emotions of the people I meet on my life path?
- What am I trying to ‘fix’ in another that really needs ‘fixing’ in myself?
Learning about codependency and how to deal with it, has helped me personally and professionally. To learn about it, doesn’t have to take years. I highly recommend the course on codependency on the Jung Platform by Craig Chalquist. Craig is an excellent teacher and dives into this topic in detail.
In the six-class course Codependency, depth psychologist Craig Chalquist will explore the impact of this phenomenon on different areas in life . If you struggle with codependency, or have a codependent friend/client/partner, this course could offer insight into your situation. You will explore the dynamics of codependency, how to identify this problem, and ways of healing. Learn More Here.
Akke-Jeanne is Jung Platform’s co-founder & VP Strategy Programs. Her background consists of a Master’s in Psychology, and several years of training in Jungian Analysis. She is the author of ‘Psychology of Heartbreak’ (in Dutch) and she provides Jungian coaching and training.More Posts by Akke-Jeanne Klerk