6 Crucial Steps on How to Break Free From Your Need to Be Codependent.
More often than not, people that are codependent don’t even realize they’re codependent. Do you rely on your partner’s approval for a sense of self-worth and identity? If so, you might be codependent.
Here are some more signs:
There is often extreme sacrifice to satisfy the needs of your partner.
If you’re clingy or feel insufficient on your own, that’s another strong indicator you might be codependent.
Constant anxiety is another sign of codependency.
Ask your friends if you’re too dependent on your relationships. If you’re codependent, it’s likely that they’ve noticed.
People with codependency often share the following traits:
‣ Problems with intimacy and boundaries
‣ Feel hurt when their efforts are not acknowledged
‣ Feel guilty when speaking up for themselves, their need or wants
‣ Feel responsible for the actions of others
‣ Difficulty communicating ‣ Hard time identifying feelings
‣ Tend to confuse love and pity, i.e., fall in love with people they can pity and rescue
‣ Rigid and have trouble adapting to change
‣ Problems making decisions
‣ Take on more than their share most of the time (guilt, responsibility, helping)
‣ Need to control other people (often in the name of helping them)
‣ Will do anything to keep a relationship going to avoid abandonment
‣ Problems trusting themselves and/or others
Try these tips to reduce your need to be codependent:
1. Create an exciting and fulfilling life on your own. Build a life that you love. Think about the kind of life you’d like to have and begin building it. Avoid depending on someone else to build it for you.
Make a list of the hobbies you most enjoy or would like to explore. Find others that can share in those activities.
Join a community of people. It could be a church, club, or another type of organization. Have a group of people in your life. You’ll be less reliant on that one romantic relationship.
Make regular plans with friends. It could be a standing date for dinner on Wednesday night or Saturday night bowling. Have regular face-to-face contact with your friends.
Find a career that you find fulfilling. If you enjoy your job, you’ll be less likely to latch onto your partner.
Volunteer. Show yourself that you have value outside of your relationship. Spend your time in a way that demonstrates you’re meaningful to the world.
Develop yourself. Learn an instrument or other skill. Take a course. Get a part-time job doing something new. Go on an exotic trip.
2. Create boundaries for any romantic relationship. Every relationship has boundaries. Whether you’re talking about a neighbor, lover, or spouse of 50 years, there are boundaries. Those that are codependent have weak or non-existent boundaries. Set up some reasonable limits for all of your relationships.
Boundaries can include finances, communication, outside friendships and activities, and respecting differences.
3. Go slowly. With any new relationship, it can be prudent to move slowly. Remind yourself of the past issues you’ve had by becoming too dependent too soon. There’s no rush. You have all the time in the world for your relationship to proceed naturally and at a reasonable pace.
4. Maintain your identity. Those that are codependent lose themselves in their partner. Remind yourself that you’re a separate person. You still have your own preferences, personality, and identity. Maintain those things. You don’t have to melt into one big person with your partner. Be an original.
5. Work on your feelings of self-worth. A lack of self-esteem is the core issue with many codependents. Working on your self-esteem is one of the best ways to spend your time. When you feel good about yourself, it’s easier to maintain a separate identity.
6. Get professional help. Studies show that most codependents were brought up in demanding households. As a child, the codependent learned to minimize their own needs in order to make a parent happy. This pattern repeats itself in future relationships. A deep-rooted issue like this may require professional assistance.
Effects of Codependency
People who have codependency often rescue, protect, and/or enable others, creating unhealthy dependencies in an effort to meet their own needs.
It usually appears that those who are being rescued, protected, and/or enabled are dependent upon the person with codependency, who is strong, capable, and in charge.
When examined more closely, the person with codependency is usually emotionally dependent upon those s/he rescues, protects, and/or enables.
The caretaking behaviors that seem so noble and well-intended also serve to bolster the esteem and worth of the person who is rescuing, protecting, and enabling – known as being a martyr.
When one is caretaking, the relationship is not one of the equals. The caretaker often feels superior to those s/he is rescuing, protecting, and/or enabling.
This fulfills the needs of the caretaker to be needed – often a role s/he is familiar with from childhood. It also decreases the risk of being abandoned.
The person being rescued, protected, and/or enabled may begin to feel incapable of thinking and doing things for him/herself – internalizing a message of learned helplessness.
Paradoxically, the ones being ‘cared for’ often resent being rescued, protected, and/or enabled because of the dependence and position of inferiority that is implied.
In essence, this sets up a familiar scenario from the family of origin in which the caretaker feels taken for granted, taken advantage of, or emotionally drained.
Those who exhibit these behaviors with their children create relationships that are enmeshed – emotionally dependent. This thwarts the child’s ability to individuate as they get older.
Adult children who are enmeshed with a parent often have difficulty forming intimate relationships and often repeat the same pattern of behavior with their significant other and children.
Conflict Resolution Skills for Codependency
Conflict is difficult for many people. People with codependency often learn to avoid conflict due to fear of abandonment. Learning conflict resolution skills makes it easier to handle conflict effectively.
1. Prepare by getting clear about the problem. Clarify your position by writing down talking points as reminders and to keep you focused.
2. Practice your talking points with a friend or in the mirror.
3. Use deep breathing to control your anxiety prior to the meeting. Take conscious breaths during the discussion.
4. Be clear about your bottom line and the things you are willing to negotiate. Understand that negotiation is part of the process and expect it.
5. Look for points of agreement. Find things that you agree on and talk about how to find a win-win solution that benefits everyone.
6. Do your homework. It helps to have a good idea of what the other person wants to strengthen your position in negotiations.
7. Use assertive language. “I want. . .” Or “I would like. . .” Ask what the other person wants, then work toward a solution that works for both of you.
8. Ask for clarification or details about anything you are unclear on.
9. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, take a break. Go to the restroom or get a drink and take some deep breaths.
10. Give positive feedback. Let the other person know that you see their point of view or agree on certain key issues.
11. If you do not get the minimum you are asking for, I suggest that you table the discussion for now and talk about it again later. Don’t give up or give in unless you are certain you have reached a stalemate.
Top Codependency Books I Recommend:
‣ Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
‣ Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody
‣ It Will Never Happen to Me and other books by Claudia Black
‣ Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood
Codependency prevents you from living your life to the fullest. It’s a toxic relationship pattern that preys on low self-esteem and a need for approval.
You are a whole and the complete person outside of any relationship. Learn to stand on your own by creating a supportive and interesting life. Make your self-esteem a priority. Find out who you really are and enjoy being you!