Codependent No More: Overcoming Codependency
It’s codependency when you put first other people’s lives than yours. It can be seen through the patterns of your behavior. Codependents establish their worth through the approval of others.
Being codependent can drain the life out of you. It’s detrimental to your mental health because you excessively carry other people’s burdens. What can give you hope is that codependency is a learned behavior. If it can be learned, it can be unlearned. Here are the steps in overcoming codependency:
You must create boundaries. It’s the best way to find clarity in codependent relationships. As a codependent, it’s normal to have little to no boundaries. You usually let other people mold you or define you and that is harmful. (1)
For you, it will be terrifying to establish boundaries. It will be a shock to the people you love because they’ve witnessed you have none for a long time. But, every healthy relationship must have limits.
Boundaries are kind. It clarifies where a specific action must end and where a healthier one starts. Once you set your boundaries, it can help reveal relationships that should be nurtured or better left cut off.
Creating boundaries reflect if your loved one respects all of you -- your time, your effort, your love, and your beliefs.
Watch For Red Flags
In overcoming codependency, awareness and boundaries are strong bricks. These bricks, when piled up, create a strong foundation. Codependency is the product of old unhealthy patterns that were piled up.
Tearing old patterns down is scary on your part. There’s falling debris and it will affect others especially your loved ones. For enablers and the enabled, establishing boundaries may mean abandonment. These are red flags. It triggers defense mechanisms and angry outbursts. But, this shouldn’t be a reason for you to conform or break your boundaries.
Everyone has struggles. You might come to know and love some, but it’s not a reason to make yourself always emotionally, physically, or mentally available to them. Struggles are not an excuse for abuse.
Taking care of others shouldn’t come at the expense of your well-being. How others react if you say ‘no’ is a reflection of the respect they have for you. You are capable of detaching yourself from your old patterns as well as the people who carry red flags.
When you feel trapped, and feel like you can’t help yourself, the courageous words your mouth can ever speak are the words, ‘I need help.’
Most codependent relationships have unresolved trauma on both ends. Working with a therapist can help you figure it out. Talk about it and check. Other issues like trauma, contribute to codependent behaviors.
The best support system you have easy access to are your friends or family. When you realize you’re not alone, it’s easier to get help and talk about your problems.
Another way is to join a support group. Learning from others and being able to share your thoughts with a group is helpful. ‘Co-Dependents Anonymous’ is a support group that can help you in developing healthier relationships. It uses tried and tested methods and frameworks.
Codependent No More
Your relationships are a reflection of your emotional and mental health. If there is dysfunction, abuse, apathy, or codependency, it is a reflection of how your life is.
Relationships do not dignify you. It’s not someone else’s role to establish your identity. It’s not also your job to be someone else’s sole or lone support system.
Today, ask yourself: ‘What can I do to focus on overcoming dependency?’
You’re capable of unlearning habits. You’re capable of setting boundaries. Being able to say ‘no’ is still being kind to yourself and others.
(1) Cowan, G., Bommersbach, M., and Curtis, S., (1995). Codependency, Loss of Self, and Power. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29 (2), 221-236