Episode #40: Dominant Dysfunctional Codependent Strategies

Narcissists aren’t the only people who are manipulative. It’s a primary Codependent Strategy used to control and dominate in a codependent relationship. The use of indirect communication and manipulation to get their own way, including pouting, guilting, becoming outraged or indignant, devaluing and gaslighting to name a few tactics make the other person submit because they feel so bad about themselves.

We don’t often think of it this way, but how people behave in relationships is very brain dependent. Our psychological type (for example, our MBTI® type or Striving Style®) plays a large role in determining the self-protective position we’re most likely to take in relationships – most of the time we do it without even realizing it! Those who tend to dominate in a codependent relationship, will act out from one of the four Codependent Dominant Strategies: Controlling, Caretaking, Disrupting and Personalizing.

In today’s episode, we explore the different Dominant Strategies, talk about how each of them manifests in relationships and reveal that they are actually survival coping strategies that begin in our childhood. We’ll also recount many stories (our own and of our clients’) and share tips and tricks for dismantling Dominant Behavioral Strategies used in codependent relationships that you can start implementing today. Tune in to make sure you don’t miss out on the gems we share this week!

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  • [01:33] Episode Introduction and Overview
  • [02:32] What Codependency Is and What It Is Not
  • [07:55] Codependency and the Archetypes of Survival
  • [19:10] Myths and Realities of Codependency
  • [28:04] Disrupting Strategy
  • [36:03] Personalizing Strategy
  • [43:10] Episode Gem
  • [46:29] Episode Wrap Up



  • Codependent Strategies can be grouped into two based on the fight/flight response. Dominant strategies are connected to the fight reaction and Submissive is connected to the flight/freeze reaction. We can use both Dominant and Submissive strategies when we feel threatened but tend to favour one grouping over the other.

  • Controlling, Caretaking, Disrupting and Personalizing Codependent Strategies manifest themselves in different ways in relationships, but they all are used to get the other person to submit to what they want and need through devaluing, manipulating and guilt-producing tactics. While pop psychology definitions tell us these are learned behaviors, they’re actually intrinsic survival strategies begun in childhood to ensure psychological security and well-being.

  • To stop being at the mercy of codependent behavior in relationships, you need to identify and own the Dominant Codependent Strategies you use and reflect on why you use them. Think about what the purpose is for you using the strategy. Are you afraid that if you don’t take over, you’ll feel anxious or out of control; that others won’t respect you; that it will prevent conflict? Make a note of what you are afraid of and why.

  • If you are struggling in relationships because you or others are using Dominant Dysfunctional Codependent Strategies, you are not alone. Listen to the episode to learn more about the many strategies that create codependent relationships. Contact us for more information on how we can help.



"Deciding to compensate for poor performance instead of managing it is an act of self- disempowerment."
episode 18 quote tile 2 - "When acting from the Victim Leadership Persona, our power and sense of personal agency is taken away by seeing situations through a  lens of helplessness."
episode 18 quote tile 3 - "Self-disempowerment starts from within. Leaders need to recognize when they are keeping their self-esteem low."
episode 18 - quote tile 4 - "Leaders need to watch that they aren't being pulled into the position  of rescuer when interacting with employees."

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