Jelly Beans and Codependency

You may be very surprised to learn what codependency is and how easily you can become trapped in its clutches. The ‘jelly beans’ story is one that I have used over the years in workshops and one to one client work, it strikes a chord with those who are suffering from it. The mad thing is no one has ever booked a session to overcome codependency, because if you are inside the trap, then the rule is ‘tell no one’, so you will appear with chronic pain or a persistent dis-ease that prevents you from being YOU.

You aren’t allowed to challenge the status-quo, so illness is a very good way of sending out an SOS signal; The only problem you are then faced with is, if the cavalry arrive, you will be forced to deny everything, so that your partner remains unblemished and your relationship continues to sail, long after it should have sunk!

In this short story there lies the beginnings of codependency. Love is placed outside of you and is something to be earned. You can only be deserving of a jelly bean if you have been good, not disappointed me and do what you are told. Did you grow up in these sorts of rules and are they still with you today? Do you say that you “feel fine” when you actually feel hurt, sad or angry? Choosing always to stay small and not rock the boat? These are telltale signs of codependency.

If you have a friend who has ventured into this type of relationship then you will know what I mean when I call it the ‘Bermuda Emotional Triangle’, because once they enter those still waters, they may never return.

Drivers for Codependency – Family Rules Okay?

Were any of these rules enforced in your household when you were growing up? There are many more rules to add but the key is did the person who made the rules play fairly? Usually to end up in a codependent relationship you would have grown up in a No/My rule structure.

This means No rules for me and My rules for you and is often spoken with a downward inflexion of the voice…

“Do as I say, not as I do!”

Hypocrisy will live in this relationship and it can drive many mental and physical health conditions as you try to keep the peace.

Below is a list for you to check, to see if any of this applies to you?


  • Never cry in public.
  • Never let them see that you’re upset.
  • Don’t show your feelings
  • Mother always worries


  • No kissing in public
  • Always keep yourself covered up
  • Never let a boy touch your knee
  • Don’t play with boys they are only after one thing
  • Always knock and wait
  • Sex is bad or evil or dirty


  • Waste not want not
  • Always eat your greens
  • Always clear your plate or you won’t get any pudding
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full
    Table manners
  • No snacking between meals


  • Shy bairns get nowt
  • Children should be seen and not heard
  • Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to
    Less said soonest mended
  • Loose lips sink ships
  • Don’t tell lies
  • Don’t keep secrets
  • Don’t answer back
  • Never make me tell you twice
  • Don’t show off


  • You can’t go out until your room is tidy
  • Don’t touch what you can’t afford
  • Never bring shame on the family
  • What would people think or the neighbour’s say
    Cheaters never prosper
  • Never be late


  • If the wind changes your face will get stuck like that
    If you stare at the television too long, you’ll get square eyes
  • If you masturbate you will go blind
  • The bigger they are the harder they fall
  • Look after younger brothers and sisters
  • Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face


  • You’re either deaf or stupid
  • You’ll always have your looks (implying that you are dim)
  • Boys are brighter than girls
  • Respect your elders
  • Dad’s always right
  • Mother’s never wrong
  • The eldest should always no better


  • Nothing worth having ever comes easy
  • Always look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees
  • Beggars can’t be choosers
  • I want never gets


  • God’s boomerang, Karma, what goes around comes around
  • Try and do a good deed everyday
  • Never use the Lords name in vane
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness


  • If you do that, Dad will kill you
  • Only the good die young
  • Smoking will kill you
  • It’s always fun until somebody looses an eye
  • Three score years and ten
  • Mistakes can kill- so always be perfect

Your rules for me full stop! Your/. 

If you are in a codependent relationship or have been? Then you will recognise the Your/. Pattern. This is a below conscious filter that my buddy Henk Beljaars and I came up with several years ago and it’s the unconscious gatekeeper that forces you to stay inside of your relationship at all costs, no matter how bad it gets. When this rule structure, which is outside of your conscious awareness, is introduced during our training courses, people have had an instant meltdown, as the realisation hits.

 Your presenting issues may be;

  • An inability to say No
  • You take everything personally
  • You need to be in control- could be a workaholic or alcoholic
  • Scared to ask for what you truly want
  • Live in denial and reject any feelings of vulnerability
  • Problems with intimacy and love
  • Depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia
  • A myriad of mental/physical health issues


Interdependent a better way

And here lies the rub… you see codependency is the act of sacrificing your life for your other half and that’s where the mathematics fails. 1+1=2 in a normal relationship which is interdependent – meaning both partners are independent individuals who chose to be together. There are clear boundaries set so that each companion can maintain their own clear sense of self, which in turn promotes greater self-worth and self-confidence for both.

There is also an equation where 1+1=3 and this is because both individuals create a whole, which is highly evident when you see a partnership that simply works. There is a high vibrational energy that is extremely effective and the word synergy helps to capture what it’s like to be in or around this type of relationship.

Good communication is key to an interdependent relationship as each partner works to actively listen and contribute to the benefit of both. Seeking out the highest intentions behind behaviours so that they can genuinely grow stronger. Focusing on the non-verbal communication that accompanies interactions is key to building and maintaining rapport, which deepens the relationship.

The way to freedom comes to those who break the rules; I hope this can be you because you do deserve it. Enjoy your jelly beans

Jelly Beans

What if Love Were Jelly Beans in a Jar? Is now available on Amazon