1. Your emotional state is determined by someone else’s emotional state.
To be honest, the times I most often cross this fine line is with my kids. I have two teenage girls. Emotions range from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows within a span of 15 minutes.
I began to suspect some codependency when I could be in a fantastic mood, but if one of my kids walked through the door with a plethora of negative emotions, my day would start tanking. I would absorb their moodiness almost immediately. If they were anxious, I would be anxious. If they were angry at someone else, I became angry at that person. If they felt their situation was hopeless, I would often begin to feel like whatever was happening would never end.
Empathy is good—and part of empathy is feeling with that person. But feeling empathy is like taking someone’s coat and holding it for a while; codependency is more like wearing it and not being able to take it off when it’s time for them to leave. I had created an environment where my emotions were dependent on theirs.
How to disentangle: After listening to what’s going on (if it’s your teen who is refusing to talk, this still applies), picture yourself giving all the information, emotions, and problems to Jesus. Tell Him what happened, what you fear, and what you hope. Ask Him to intervene, be a comfort, and show you how you can help further. But be willing to let it go. Do nothing but pray if that’s all God leads you to do.
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