How To Start Recovering From Codependent Relationships
If you struggle with people pleasing or setting boundaries, relationships can become lop-sided. This basically means that the codependent person ends up doing all the heavy lifting. You give until it hurts.
But since it's only hurting you, you might think it's not that bad. When you are codependent, you want to be liked more than you want to risk being honest about what you really need. People pleasing triggers a negative cycle of self-neglect that is the hallmark of codependency.
Codependency is a complex issue, like a tree with many branches. Though there are several definitions out there, here’s a simple version. Codependency happens when you lose yourself by focusing on others at your own expense. Seeking approval becomes more important than self-care.
If you relate to codependency you have trouble:
Saying no or expressing a different opinion
Sitting still or "do nothing"
Putting your needs first
Feeling like your worth comes from giving or helping
Getting trapped by a mountain of obligations
Admitting hurt or angry feelings
Detaching from other people's problems
Struggling secretly with resentment and feeling invisible
Attracting people with lots of problems
Why You Don't Think You Need Recovery
Codependency creates a deep sense of loneliness because you can't be yourself. You're so busy doing for others that your life is never really your own.
In order to get help and start recovery, you have to "hit bottom" much like the alcoholic. Unfortunately, it's harder if you're a codependent person, to see your behavior as a problem. Because you're not the one drinking, you think you don’t need help.
You think that you have all the answers - and let's face it, when people keep coming to you for help, it proves your point. That's why it takes a lot for codependents to stop. You think that others can't survive without your help.
Starting the Recovery Process
Pain is the greatest motivator for instigating change. You don't seek change because you think you should. You seek change because you're tired of hurting. There comes a point when you're ready to do something different.
Where do you start?
Here are 10 tasks for starting you on the path of codependency recovery.
1. You start putting yourself first.
No longer are you willing to sacrifice yourself for everyone else. Putting yourself last creates a mountain of resentment that goes unexpressed. Not ignoring your needs has to stop.
Instead of asking what they want, speak up about what YOU want. Include your two cents because you count!
2. You say what you mean without saying it mean.
Not expressing your feelings creates passive aggressive behavior. By not admitting that you're upset, feelings comes out later in sarcastic or hurtful comments.
When the pain of staying silent becomes too much, that pain forces you to speak up. To learn how, read my blog Can We Talk Without Losing It.
3. You can admit that you don't know it all.
Admitting that you don’t know it all is actually the good news! You can take a deep breath because always having to be right is exhausting!
By trying to solve everyone problems it creates unnecessary stress that wipes you out in the process.
4. You don't have to give advice.
This one can feel like torture but you can be supportive without giving advice. Instead, validate what's being said to show that you get it.
Most people want to feel understood, not fixed. That’s why giving advice can irritate people when they just need to be heard.
5. You can stay on your side of the street.
Knowing how to let go of what is not your responsibility is what defines detachment. That's when you can let someone else make their own choices without trying to control the outcome. If they are a functioning adult, let them deal with it.
If even thinking about letting go makes you anxious, you’re not alone. Letting go is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Click here to read 10 Ways to Let Go of Someone You Love.
6. You don't always say yes!
Saying no makes you more honest in relationships. When you say yes all of the time, resentment inevitably creeps in.
Realize that saying no is an important boundary for your self-care. In codependency recovery, taking the risk of saying no means that your needs count. No one ever died from saying no!
7. You can ask for what you need.
By asking for what you need you will have a fighting chance of getting it! Part of the codependent struggle centers around doing everything yourself and not asking for help.
Your super-power is juggling many balls in the air but none of them are yours! Recovery is about moderation. You can still give but not when it hurts you.
8. You stop obsessing about things that are not in your control.
When you are codependent, the focus in constantly on others. Instead, practice being in the moment by bringing the focus back to you. As a result, you will feel less stressed and more grounded. When your energy is targeted on others, you lose touch with what you need.
9. You don't care as much what others think.
You start to realize how much time has been wasted on worrying, caring for, and helping others. Your identity gets wrapped up in doing rather than being yourself.
Letting go of what others think means that you're no longer thinking about them. Redirect your thoughts towards something you want to achieve! Pick a hobby or fulfill a dream that you’ve always wanted to do.
10. You can begin to let go of what others are doing.
By letting go of what others do your serenity comes back!
Trying to fix, advise or control other people's behavior - especially when there is an addiction, distracts you from solving your own problems. Once you let go of what isn't yours, other person has the opportunity to take care of themselves.
Whenever you are trying to change a behavior, being patient with yourself helps. Codependency is like a tree with deep roots. Target one specific behavior at a time and getting additional support makes the process easier.
I always recommend Alanon if you're struggling with codependency. It's a 12 step program that provides valuable relationship skills and emotional support to support your recovery.
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