How To Start Recovering From Codependent Relationships
Codependency is a trap. If you struggle with people pleasing or have difficulty setting boundaries, relationships become lop-sided. The codependent person ends up doing all the heavy lifting. You give until it hurts.
But since it's only hurting you, you think it's not that bad. You want to be liked more than you want to risk being honest. People pleasing triggers a negative cycle of self-neglect that is the hallmark of codependency.
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
- Getting trapped by a mountain of obligations
- Admitting hurt or angry feelings
- Thinking that other people's problems are your own
- Struggling secretly with resentment and feeling invisible
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 codependency recovery, you have to "hit bottom" much like the alcoholic. Unfortunately, it's often harder, if you're a codependent person, to get help. You don't think you need recovery because you don't think you're the one with the problem. After all, you're not drinking.
You think that you have all the answers - and let's face it, when people keep coming to you for help, you think that you do. That's one of the reasons why it takes a lot for codependents to stop. You think that others can't survive without your help.
What starts the recovery process
Pain is the greatest motivator for instigating change. You don't seek change just because you think you should. You seek change because you're tired of hurting. There comes a point where 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. You don't admit that you're upset, so it comes out in sarcasm or hurtful comments.
When the pain of staying silent becomes too much, it can propel you to speak up. To learn how, read my blog Can We Talk Without Losing It or check out my free 5 day email course on catching anger. Click the image to sign up!
3. You can admit that you don't know it all - and as a result, relationships improve! You can take a deep breathe because you don't always have to be right.
Trying to solve every problem creates unnecessary stress.
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. That's what most people want, to feel understood.
5. You can stay on your side of the street and in the process, get your energy back. Learning what's not your business takes practice. Anything outside your hula hoop is not your responsibility. That includes adult children, parents, friends, co-workers, and people with lots of problems. If they are a functioning adult, let them deal with it.
6. You don't always say yes which makes you more honest in your relationships. You realize that always saying yes is getting old. You're finally willing to take a risk. No one ever died from saying no!
7. You can ask for what you need and sometimes you actually get it! Part of the codependent struggle centers around doing everything yourself. Your super-power is juggling many balls in the air but none of them are yours! Recovery is about learning moderation. You can still give but not when it hurts you.
8. You stop obsessing about things that are not in your control. Practicing being in the moment brings the focus back to you, and as a result, you're less stressed and more grounded. When your energy is focused 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 thinks means that you're no longer thinking about them. Redirect your thoughts towards some goal or hope that you have!
10. You can begin to let go of what others are doing and as a result your serenity comes back! Trying to fix, advise or control other people's behavior - especially if there's 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, practicing patience 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 teaches valuable relationship skills that can greatly improve most situations.
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