How To Stop Being Codependent: What You Need To Know To Take Control Of Your Life
Codependency can have an immense impact on your emotions, relationships, and daily well-being if you allow it to. But there are things that you can do to take back control of your own life. While codependent relationships can build over time, they aren’t necessarily one-sided. In fact, there can be many of these types of relationships that are two-sided or stem from behaviors perpetrated by both partners. It could be that both parties are codependent toward each other, or it could be that one party is encouraging the codependent behavior of the other. No matter how codependence shows up in your relationships with others, recognizing it for what it is and understanding where it may come from can be the first steps toward letting it go.
What Are Signs Of A Codependent Person?
The American Psychological Association defines codependence as a state of mutual reliance, such as a relationship in which two people depend on each other for emotional support.
Codependent behavior can also be thought of as a tendency to feel other people’s emotions, rely on others for validation, and view other people’s needs as a reflection of you or your own desires. Because codependence can make us feel like we have to rely on other people to meet our needs or be a complete person, it can make it difficult to separate your own needs and sense of self from those around you.
Some of the symptoms of codependence can include:
- Low self-esteem
- People-pleasing behavior
- Lack of boundaries
- Feeling overly emotional
- Intense desire to have self-control
- Difficulty communicating
- Obsessive thoughts and behaviors
- Strong desire to be liked
If you experience these types of symptoms, it may be possible that you are codependent or that some of your relationships are codependent. But to improve your emotional well-being, it may be essential to look for ways to resolve those codependent behaviors.
How To Stop Codependency
The process of stopping codependent behavior may not be easy, largely because it might involve changing the way you think, react, and process emotions. But it’s an effort that’s likely well worth pursuing, both for the sake of your relationships with others and your confidence in yourself. Below are steps to help you get started.
Be Honest With Yourself
The first thing you may need to do to work on your codependent behaviors might be to be completely honest with yourself about how you feel, what your concerns are, and what you think may be driving your habits. To overcome your codependence, you might find that you need to be able to admit that you are codependent. And that can take a lot of courage.
On top of admitting this to yourself, however, you may also need to admit it to your partner or to whoever it is that you are codependent with. If you and your partner are codependent upon each other, this may be something that you both strive to acknowledge. To truly resolve the relationship's codependence, you’ll also likely need to be willing to make changes.
Let It Go
Arguably one of the hardest parts about being codependent is that things in your relationship can seem to affect you more than they do other people. You might, for instance, find yourself feeling extremely emotional due to what others might tell you is a slight or a minor issue. Or you may worry that you’ve done something wrong every time your partner or loved one is upset, even if your actions have nothing to do with their emotions. Wanting to “fix” things and avoid uncomfortable feelings can stem from unfairly applying them to yourself.
When you can learn to let those feelings and emotions go, you can release some of the codependence. But just because you’re learning how to calm your emotional response does not mean you should ignore emotions entirely.
Instead, let the emotions come in and acknowledge them. But instead of allowing them to take control, you might want to take a few moments to reflect on just what the situation really calls for and respond in a more appropriate way. Perhaps you realize that your attempts to fix your partner’s concerns might come across as dismissive, even though your goal is to eliminate their pain or discomfort. Instead, you might discover that the best way to support them without internalizing their emotions yourself is by validating them and asking what you can do to help.
Create Strong Boundaries
Boundaries can be one of the hardest things to approach for someone working through codependence, but they can be critical.
Setting boundaries may mean deciding what you will and won’t do for your partner. Maybe you decide that you won’t pick up after them anymore or that you’ll enforce a certain amount of solo time each day to focus on your own respective hobbies.
Understanding your limitations can be essential, but it’s also often highly personal. You likely are the only one who can decide what boundaries you are ready to set and when you want to set them.
In some cases, it may be necessary for you to walk away from the codependent relationship, whether only temporarily or permanently. Once again, you are likely the only one who can decide if the relationship you are in has a chance to move forward. Still, there may be a chance that you will need a break before you can truly enter into the relationship again with a clear head and a strong level of self-care.
Walking away temporarily can give you the time to work on yourself in many different ways without having to work on your partner as well. And it may give you the ability to be strong and firm in your choices, even if they’re not being put to the test at the moment.
Once you have gotten stronger in your own life and are further along your ex-codependence journey, you may return to the previous relationship, provided the other person understands that the relationship will likely be different. But whether you decide to return or not will ultimately be up to you.
Counseling can be a great way to learn some of the techniques discussed throughout this article. By working with a counselor, you may gain more substantial insight into your own thoughts and feelings. You’ll also likely have the opportunity to learn ways to be more honest with yourself and your partner as well as how to let go of some of the challenges or emotions that can otherwise get the better of you.
If you want to learn more about stopping codependency, seeking professional help could be the next logical step. Reaching out to an online counselor may make it easier to find someone who fits your needs and understands how to best support you. Plus, online sessions can be joined right from the comfort of your own home.
Studies show that online counseling can be helpful for both individuals and couples who seek it out. In fact, researchers in one study found that 95% of couples who engaged in online counseling found the experience to be helpful. No matter how you choose to pursue therapy or what your focus may be, getting professional support may be a critical part of moving past codependency and taking charge of your life once more.
Codependence can be challenging to overcome; however, it can also be challenging to live with. Regaining your own strength and taking back control of your life can take time, effort, and deliberate thought, but it may significantly impact you and your future. And you deserve the amazing life that’s waiting for you once you do it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the signs of a codependent person?
Codependency can look very different depending on the circumstances and people experiencing it, but here are some signs of taking note of:
- A need to please others
- A lack of boundaries in relationships
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble identifying your feelings
- Trouble making decisions
- Fear of abandonment
- Feeling responsible for others’ actions
If you’re in a codependent relationship, couples counseling or even individual counseling can be a great tool to help you understand it and take full control of your life.
What does a codependent relationship look like?
A “codependent relationship” often refers to a relationship in which one or both partners are excessively needy and reliant on the other. Codependency can occur in any relationship, from romantic to friendship; codependency in marriage can also occur.
Can you recover from codependency?
Codependency is not necessarily a life sentence--it can possible to stop being codependent. Even if you’re in a codependent relationship now, you can change and become more independent and in control. Attending counseling or therapy may be a great way to begin working through the root of your codependency, as well as setting boundaries and goals.
How do I stop being codependent?
The first step to stopping being so codependent may be to recognize and acknowledge your codependent behaviors. Once you’re aware of your codependent tendencies, it can become much easier to begin to replace them with more positive thoughts and behaviors. It may also very important to truly realize your own self-worth. Only once you believe you are just as worthy as everyone else, recognizing that you deserve to be able to step away from others can become much more possible.
What is the root cause of codependency?
Codependent tendencies, which can lead to codependent relationships, often arise from childhood experiences. Typically, children who grow up to be codependent feel that their needs were not met while growing up. They then may pick up codependent behaviors as a coping mechanism or a method to get those needs met.
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