Getting Over The Codependent Trap Empaths Often Fall Into

By Kelly Armatage

Being a highly sensitive person, with increased levels of empathy and compassion, makes us susceptible to feeling and taking on the emotions of others. Due to being so energetically open, we literally feel and absorb the suffering of other people. empaths have a built in need to heal, to soothe and to help those around them. Whilst this is a wonderful loving quality in itself, it can often lead empaths to pick up the behaviour of codependency.



Codependency is the need to fix, heal and change others. Codependents often attract partners that need support due to addictions or other behavioural issues. Behavioural issues that will damage relationships, such as alcoholism, cheating, gambling, consistent unemployment and so on. Being codependent means we feel 'pleasure' subconsciously when a) we are needed by others, b) when we over-give and c) when we are delusional and believe that if we change others, that this will give us the love we crave.


Having experienced codependency and the suffering that this creates in relationships, was one of the reasons I studied to become a therapist. By choosing to heal this within myself, I have been able to facilitate co-dependent workshops and sessions for others.


The A.S.K. technique is a wonderful tool to help empaths heal codependent issues in their relationships. A.S.K. empowers the individual to take the correct steps required to create healthier relationships in their lives.


A.S.K. is a 3 step subconscious therapy technique that helps the public to recognise a) why they have emotional pain and b) what to do about that pain by c) recognizing the behaviours they have, that are creating unhealthy results in their lives.


If we were to use A.S.K. for an individual that is in a codependent relationship, we would write the following on the A.S.K. Worksheet (see below and available free online).



As you can see we work through A.S.K. by listing the issue, in this case “I hate my husbands drinking” and the associated emotions (and intensity out of ten) that are triggered through thinking this thought. We then do Step 1, which is commitment, and we ask ourselves; “How high is my intention and commitment to remove these emotions, change this problem and get to a solution?” Ten out of ten is the preferred mark, as then the mind literally opens for a solution and to see the truth.


Step 2 (truth) is to list the negative actions, behaviours and habits of others and ourselves. In this case, his habit is drinking and her habit is to fix him and judge him. For every habit, there is a subconscious pay-off (pleasurable feelings that we feel subconsciously through carrying out the act). Pay-off feelings are pleasure, comfort, relief, familiarity etc. We list the pay-off for both parties.


Then the plan is to list the direct opposite habits of ourselves (we cannot list the direct opposite habits of others, as we cannot change others). Once we have listed the picked up habit, pay-off and plan, we do the most important part of the technique, which is to forgive others and ourselves for our habits and pay-offs. We do this by understanding that we are all trained to behave and that there is to be no judgment of that, just understanding and compassion for our behaivoural conditioning, that is influenced by past events and parental modeling.


Step 3 (growth) is to list the life lesson that you are being taught here. In all emotional pain is growth and learning, IF we can have the courage to be responsible and change our behaviours. In this case, it is to increase self love and to remove codependency. Codependency will always create suffering and toxic relationships. Increasing self love will ensure you get happiness from within, as opposed to relationship “love” addiction.



A.S.K. helps us to realise that we are in emotional pain, because we are judging others and ourselves for the actions carried out. Through acceptance of the habits of others and ourselves, we open up the path for change. We have the power to change our emotions through compassion and we have the power to drop negative picked up habits and pay-offs and pick up new and empowering habits, which enhance our relationships and life. Studies say it takes between 23 to 66 days to create new neural behavioural pathways. As we have the courage and motivation to implement the plan over a 2-3 month period, we create new habitual patterns.


A.S.K. Worksheet

Issue: - “I hate my husband’s drinking addiction”
Resentment 10/10
Powerlessness 9/10
Anger 9/10

1. COMMITMENT - 10/10

2. TRUTH - Picked Up Habit
(mine) – judgment of his habit
(mine) – the need to fix him/codependency
(his) – addiction to alcohol    
(mine)     - familiar / pleasure
(his) - comfort
Forgiveness of his habit
Stop trying to change him / drop being codependent
Consider leaving or giving boundaries    
Self Love / Removal of codependency




Kelly Armatage is qualified in providing Counselling, Coaching, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Sessions, Meditation Classes, Self Development Workshops and Corporate Training. As well as being a regularly booked public speaker and published writer, Kelly runs workshops and seminars that facilitate massive change personally, professionally, emotionally and spiritually for audiences worldwide.
A.S.K. Technique - W:


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