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It can be difficult for a deeply wounded person to place the needs and desires of others above themselves, though deep inside they want to. Even when they try to do so, these attempts are frequently born from an even deeper longing or need for the individual to get his or her own needs met.
One way this can happen is when an individual helps or gives to another person to receive validation from the other person, thereby using the recipient of the help or gift to meet the giver’s own selfish desires. This helping or giving behavior becomes a way for the individual to gain a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, or a sense of purpose*
In essence, these “gifts” are not really gifts at all, for they are tied with the very strings that the giver uses to obtain what he wills.
The individual or “giver” may not realize that his or her behavior is self-focused. Many believe that they are being generous, loving, kind, or virtuous. Many believe that they are being good people. * These individuals fail to see that their behavior, rather than being virtuous, is actually quite controlling.
This tendency to use other people to meet personal needs is a pattern of behavior exhibited regularly by people who struggle with codependency. The Bridge to Recovery, a treatment center for those who suffer from codependency, defines codependence as “the pain in adulthood that comes from being wounded in childhood, which leads to a high probability of relationship disorders and addictive behavior later in life” (www.thebridgetorecovery.com).As children, we naturally seek validation, security, love, and affection from our primary caregivers. When these needs are not met due to the caregiver’s addiction, abuse, or wounded heart, children may learn that they cannot trust others to meet their needs. They may then decide that they must find ways to take care themselves. These wounds alter the ways children think and feel and may forever alter the way the child views the world and the people in the world. This shift in the way children perceive the world may actually lead to a more selfish, self-centered, and self seeking orientation.