Remember our question from Part One: How do I know if I am acting codependent or loving? Also, let’s review our definitions of “codependent” and “loving”:

Love: An intense feeling of deep affection. For the purpose of this article, we will include some more distinctions of love:

Codependency: Codependency, for the purpose of this discussion, is a recognizable system of learned personality traits that negatively affect knowing one’s self and others. Codependents become dependent on “others’” approval and control the situation in order to get this approval. Codependents often avoid honesty and confrontation, which can enable abusive behavior. Thus, the codependent does not require the abusive person to change or improve.

So when we compare love and codependency, I believe we will find actions from love are different than codependent actions, which are based in fear. In general, it takes an emotionally strong person to live in love, not codependency. As we said in our definitions, codependents are driven by the need for others’ approval, so fear of not having that approval drives the behavior. People operating out of love are not driven by fear. Codependency is usually a way of being someone who unconsciously decided they needed in life to survive.

Brave vs Afraid
When we see things that are wrong in the world, e.g. bullying, domestic abuse, lying, emotional abuse, and hatred, it takes bravery to stand up for what is right. It takes courage to say this is wrong. If we have a friend who shows up with unexplained bruises over and over again, do we say nothing or do we find our backbone and say something? If you are going to have an honest conversation with a friend, ask permission: “I am concerned and would like to talk to you.” Always come from being concerned, your observations, and wanting to help as a friend. If the door gets slammed in your face, you will survive. And if something bad happens, you will know you did not pretend all was well.

We can’t help everyone, but we can let others know we are there for them. If I need you to like and approve of me, I will be afraid to speak my truth. Codependency paralyzes us in situations; we need to be brave and take action regardless of who likes us. Remember, as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is those good men should do nothing.”

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Author's Bio: 

Dr. Anne Brown, Ph.D., RN of Sausalito, California, formerly from Aspen, Colorado in her private practice has served as the trusted advocate and advisor to Influential Corporate leaders, Trial Attorneys, Athletes, Leaders, Physicians, and their families, many of whose connections extend well beyond the town of Aspen.