How Codependency May Secretly Be Hurting Your Family Business

Codependency can be a problem in family businesses Are you in a codependent relationship? Perhaps you have no close family or friends that are suffering from addictions or illnesses, issues that commonly result in codependence. You are not enabling anyone, picking up the slack when they refuse to do their part, making excuses… wait a minute.

Maybe you aren’t doing these things in your personal life, but if you tend to do them as a business owner, you could very well be on the road to codependency, and it could be hurting your business.

Codependency occurs when a person consistently allows their own needs and rights to become secondary to someone else’s. They take the emotional needs of others onto themselves. As a business owner, this can include neglecting your business in order to take care of other people.

What does this actually look like? Maybe you have an employee or business partner who has to be reminded over and over, and over again, to get things done.  They aren’t doing their job. They aren’t fulfilling their commitment to the company. But then again, they don’t have to. You are there pushing, pulling, and reminding them to do their work. The result is wasted time, energy, resources, and money.

Things get trickier when we are talking about a family business. With regular employees, it tends to be easier to lay down the law, make cuts when necessary, and enforce consequences. When it comes to family – your spouse, your daughter, your cousin – we make more allowances and offer more assistance. But this can quickly go from being kind and loving to a family member to being codependent.

The reason it is so easy to confuse kindness and codependency is that they are essentially the same behavior, just within different contexts. To be kind means to give unconditionally, share, and show that you care. When this giving and caring is reciprocated in a healthy relationship, the condition is kindness. However, when the kindness is not reciprocated, and you find yourself constantly giving, it may be codependency.

How can you tell if you are a codependent business owner? Perhaps you see yourself in the scenarios mentioned above. Here are some other signs of codependence:

  • Difficulty saying no or feeling guilty for being assertive
  • Extreme preoccupation with the opinions of others, perhaps even valuing their opinions over your own
  • Difficulty communicating, identifying your needs, or making decisions
  • Sacrificing your good reputation to help someone who doesn’t give back
  • Feeling unappreciated and resentful
  • Physical symptoms such as feeling tired or depressed, or experiencing headaches or stomach pain
  • Relying on food, shopping, alcohol or other drugs to give you a lift

As in personal relationships, a codependent business relationship will eventually result in burnout for you and/or your business. You can only go so long putting other people ahead of yourself and your business until something breaks down. Choose to have positive self-esteem, and realize your limitations and personal responsibilities. Give responsibility for other people’s actions back to them.

Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help and support from others. Because codependent tendencies are rooted in childhood dysfunction, it is often necessary to consult a therapist to determine the cause. I can help you work you these issues and empower you to take back control of your life and your business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

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