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CEO Wisdom Tips, Tidbits & Musings

Katie Kovaleski & Elli Richter

What is codependency?

by | Jun 23, 2022 | Anxiety, Co-Dependency, Nervous System, PSYCH-K®

Most people are conditioned to codependency and don’t even know it! So much anxiety, frustration, and stress is caused by this way of relating!

There is also a lot of confusion around what codependency really is, and what the opposite, healthy dynamic would look and feel like.

Katie and I love working with people on this topic and offer an amazing 6 week group program all about rebooting your relationships https://theceowisdom.com/1037-2/

In this blog, I am sharing our answer to what is codependency, the three roles of the drama triangle of mutual dependency, the root causes, the symptoms, and what you can do to reclaim your power and create healthy, interdependent relationships.

Katie and I think that most of us are operating on codependent conditioning, so let’s not blame or shame, but be curious instead.

Definition of codependency 

If you google what is codependency, all kinds of definitions pop up.



We prefer to define codependency as a relationship dynamic in that we are conditioned to; 

Prioritize other people’s feelings, needs, wants, problems, and opinions above your own. And doing so at the expense/sacrifice of your wellbeing, desires, goals, time, energy.

Another version of a definition via Nicole LaPerla:

It’s a chronic neglect of self in order to gain approval, love, validation or self identify through another person

Can you find some examples of that in your relationships?

The three roles in the drama triangle of codependency

There are three roles in codependency and we rotate through all three roles within any given dynamic;

Victim, Rescuer/Savior, Villain/Narcissist

Katie and I updated the title of the villain/narcissist to 

Burned out rescuer / enraged victim

We believe that few people are true Narcissists. For the rest of us, it is likely more true that you might be burned out from helping others without having enough self care of support, appreciation or validation.

Or you have been feeling helpless for so long that you become enraged.

In both cases, we might lack empathy and compassion and temporarily present with narcissistic behavior.

That is often followed by guilt and shame about those behaviors and we unconsciously move back to more people pleasing and over-functioning (rescuer).

And, if you are in an abusive unsafe relationship, getting out and safe is always first priority!

Common symptoms of codependency

A chronic lack of self love and self care (codependency in action) can manifest in a variety of ways…



People pleasing

Hard time identifying your own feelings and needs

Trouble making decisions

constantly saying sorry

Self doubt

Always being available 

Feeling guilty all the time

in toxic relationships

Blaming yourself for other people’s moods

Seeking validation/approval

Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings

Feeling ‘highly sensitive’

No boundaries 

Lack of self care, especially during stress

Chronic illness



Trouble sleeping

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Feeling worthless and low when not helping others or busy.

Check out the most common codependent tendencies for each role. Which one do you relate to the most?

Root cause of codependency

Codependency is a common trauma (stress) response, and conditioned pattern. All patterns originate from our subconscious programs. What we learn during the first 7 years of our lives becomes our conditioning.

Codependent patterns are based on a set of beliefs and/or stressful experiences that cause us to think, fell, and act accordingly.

Many of us learn to not fully feel and express emotions, learn to be afraid of confrontation, to people please, to be “a good girl/boy”. Some of you were the parent to your parent, or took on emotions and traumas that were not yours to carry.

The subconscious mind regulates our nervous system and stress in the subconscious mind shows up in the body, especially the nervous system.

When our nervous system is in fight, flight, or freeze, the blood flow to the executive decision maker in the brain, the frontal lobe, is reduced and we cannot think straight.

In these activated/triggered states, its hard to do what we consciously know, and it is hard to respond in healthier ways.

In the graphic below we have summarized a few of the most common limiting beliefs that drive codependent patterns.

From Codependency to Interdependency 

When I recently posted our definition of codependency on Instagram, a friend of mine commented that he never not want to care about people. I get it, neither do we.

To the codependently conditioned ears, prioritizing ourselves sounds rude and selfish.

And that’s not what the opposite of codependency is.

You will actually be able to care more when you are out of codependency. You will care for others AND yourself.

It all begins with bringing your focus back to yourself, feeling YOUR feelings, and taking care of YOUR needs, and establishing boundaries around that. 

Everyone wins when we take charge of our own lives and happiness, learn to receive and rest without guilt, ask for help when needed, and give from a full cup.

Check out the graphic below for the empowered versions of each role!

How can we get there?

The end goal is to feel connected with yourself and in alignment with what you came here to create/do/be, and to enjoy healthy, fulfilling relationships.

We believe it takes changing our subconscious programs to create lasting new patterns and have created an integrated therapeutic approach to help you reach your goals!

Using our 4 pillars of healing and growth, you can make lasting changes and transform any area of your life. These pillars include nervous system care, feeling and expressing feelings in a healthy way, trusting and following your full body YES/No, and subconscious integration with PSYCH-K.

We believe that to make lasting behavioral changes and create new patterns, integrating the subconscious mind is key.

Releasing stress from the subconscious mind restores blood flow to the brain, and increases communication between the hemispheres, called a whole brain state. This allows you to access more of your mental resources for more clarity, direction, and confidence.

It feels a lot easier to do what we know to do when your subconscious mind is on board!

We offer this work 1-1, 1-2, and in small group programs

Our next RELATIONSHIP REBOOT groups starts July 11th, 2022 https://theceowisdom.com/1037-2/

Below are some ideas for new beliefs we could reprogram with PSYCH-K.

I hope this blog clarified some things. Katie and I used to operate on many of the codependent beliefs and are passionate about sharing about this topic and offering sustainable, and empowering solutions.

much love, E