How to stop being codependent

Love really is selfless. When we have children, their needs must take precedence over ours. We are not going to let our baby cry for hours when he is hungry in the middle of the night because we want to sleep. When we are tired or would rather be doing something else, we will drive our children to engage in some activities. Parenting responsibly is part of what it means to love our children. However, we may be codependent if we consistently put the other person first in our relationships, even if it means sacrificing our own health or well-being. So, in this piece, I’ll discuss ways to stop becoming codependent in our relationships.

What Are the Signs of a Codependent Person?

Codependence is defined by the American Psychological Association as being mentally dependent on another person who has a pathological addiction or a mutual, emotional dependence between two people on one another. Codependency is often referred to as “relationship addiction.”

This means that codependent behaviour can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Also, the other person may or may not promote it. In fact, some people suffering from addiction may not want to be in a codependent relationship because it could jeopardize their ability to continue using. Some codependents become so reliant on the addict that they would go to any length to keep them happy, including enabling the addiction.

Some of the signs of codependency include:

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is probable that you are codependent or that one or more of your relationships are codependent. However, in order to increase your emotional well-being, you must look for strategies to stop those codependent behaviours in your relationships.

Examples of Codependency

  • Putting a lot of effort and time into caring for a partner who has an alcohol or substance abuse problem.
  • Making excuses or covering for the other person’s bad behaviour
  • Neglecting self-care, job, or other relationships to care for your partner
  • Enabling a partner’s destructive or unhealthy behaviour.
  • Not allowing your partner to take responsibility for their own lives
  • Not allowing your partner to maintain their independence

How to Stop Being Codependent

It will be difficult to stop the cycle of codependent behaviour in your relationships. But it will be worth it when you succeed. This is due to the fact that you will be able to reclaim complete control of your life. And you’ll be able to form healthy relationships that will help you grow as a person.

#1. Be Truthful to Yourself

The first step in working on your codependent habits is to be absolutely honest with yourself. The notion that admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery is true. There is a reason that adage has been around for so long. To overcome codependence, you must first recognize that you are codependent. And it will require a lot of guts to do so. It’s a difficult thing to admit.

In addition to acknowledging this to yourself, you must also admit it to your partner or anyone you are codependent with. If you and your partner are codependent on each other, you will both need to recognize this. To fully resolve the codependence in the relationship, you must also be willing to make adjustments.

It is nevertheless critical for persons who are codependent on someone else but are not codependent themselves to admit their behaviours to the other person. This is the first step in changing the dynamics of your relationship. It’ll also allow you to open up about how you’ve been feeling and why you’ve acted the way you have. It also allows you to express how you want things to change and improve.

#2. Allow things to Be

One of the most difficult aspects of being codependent is that things in your relationship seem to affect you more than other people. You may feel excessively emotional due to what others may seem to be a trivial issue. But the feelings you’re having are very real to you, and they’re important to you as well. This is one of the behaviours associated with codependence.

When you learn to let go of those sentiments and emotions, you may let go of some of your codependence. It is not easy to simply ‘let it go,’ and you may find it difficult to do so. When an event occurs, or your partner says something that profoundly impacts you, it is important to allow yourself to feel the emotions. Just because you’re learning how to control your emotions doesn’t mean you should disregard them totally.

Allow the emotions to come in and acknowledge them. Instead of letting them take control, take a few moments to concentrate on what the circumstance truly requires and reply in a more calm and controlled manner. You will be able to receive a better response from your partner if you communicate your sentiments and emotions in this manner. That means you’ll be able to talk about things instead of arguing or getting upset. Also, after some thought, you’ll realize that some of those things can simply be let go of.

#3. Invite Your Friends

In most circumstances, bringing friends into your relationship is a bad idea because it might cause friction between you and your partner. If you are in a codependent relationship, it may be necessary to bring someone into the situation to help you stop it. Remember that eliminating codependent tendencies is difficult; having a supportive buddy might mean the difference between success and failure.

You want to choose a friend who will be encouraging and supportive rather than one who will berate you if you make a mistake. Trying to stop a codependent relationship necessitates a significant amount of hard work and effort on your part. It is entirely understandable and expected that you will find it difficult. Even if that happens, the perfect friend will be there to keep pushing you ahead.

#4. Establish Firm Boundaries

Boundaries are one of the most difficult aspects of working through codependence but are also one of the most important. Establishing limits entails selecting what you will and will not do for your relationship. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has an addiction, this may mean putting a stop to certain behaviors that you used to accept or ignore. If you and your partner are both codependent, it could involve setting boundaries to keep their emotions from bringing you down.

Setting your limits is necessary, but it is also incredibly personal. You are the only person who can decide what boundaries you are willing to establish and when you want to establish them. It’s also critical to keep pushing yourself while you fight through your codependence. You may not be ready to take the last steps right away, but as you continue to work on your thoughts, feelings, and yourself, you may find that you want to establish even harder limits.

#5. Take a step back

You may need to step away from the codependent relationship, whether temporarily or permanently. Once again, you are the only one who can decide whether or not your relationship has a chance to succeed. Still, there’s a good possibility you’ll need a break before you can return to the relationship with a clear brain.

Walking away temporarily allows you to work on yourself in a variety of ways while not having to work on your partner as well. It relieves you of the burden of having to make decisions every day that are either in accordance with your new goals or not. It also provides you with the power to be strong and unwavering in your decisions. Simply having the conviction of your beliefs and desires will help you improve.

You may return to the prior relationship if you have become stronger in your own life and are further along your ex-codependence journey, providing the other person knows the relationship will be different. However, whether or not you decide to return is ultimately up to you.

#6. Seek Counselling.

Counselling is an excellent approach to acquiring some of the techniques covered in this article. Working with a counsellor will provide greater insight into your values and emotions. You’ll also learn how to be more honest with yourself and your partner. You’ll also learn how to let go of some overpowering emotions that can otherwise get the best of you.

A counsellor will provide you with the flexibility and chance to sit down and express your thoughts and feelings in a secure setting, as well as feedback in the form of exercises, strategies, and other tools. These things are meant to give you the courage you need to start taking control and making decisions that will aid you in your life.

Seeking professional treatment may be the next obvious step if you want to learn more about how to stop codependency.

What Is the Root Cause of Codependency?

Childhood is usually the source of codependency. Codependency is learned by observing and imitating other family members who exhibit this behaviour. It is frequently passed down from one generation to the next. As a result, a child who grew up seeing a codependent parent may follow in his or her footsteps.

Children are often raised in families where their feelings are disregarded or punished. This emotional neglect can lead to low self-esteem and shame in the child. They may assume that their wants are unimportant.

Underlying issues that contribute to the dysfunction may involve:

  • Addiction to drugs, alcohol, work, food, sex, gambling, relationships
  • Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual)
  • Chronic physical illness or mental illness

Problems within the family are never confronted. Codependent individuals do not discuss the fact that problems exist. Family members suppress their emotions and ignore their own needs in order to care for the struggling individual.

All of the attention and energy is directed toward the person who is abusive, unwell, or addicted. Codependent people usually sacrifice all of their own needs in order to care for a struggling family member. They usually face social, emotional, and physical consequences for disregarding their own health, welfare, and safety.

Risk Factors and Characteristics

While anyone could find themselves in a codependent relationship, there are specific factors that raise the likelihood. Researchers have discovered several factors that are commonly associated with codependency:

  • Lack of trust in oneself or others
  • Fear of being alone or abandoned
  • A need to control others
  • Chronic anger 
  • Frequent lying
  • Poor communication skills.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Problems with intimacy.
  • Difficulty setting boundaries
  • Having trouble adjusting to change.
  • Individuals with an extreme need for approval and recognition 
  • A tendency to get upset if their efforts are not acknowledged.
  • A tendency to go above and beyond all the time
  • A tendency to confuse love with pity.
  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.

According to research, codependency is common among adults who were brought up by substance-abusing parents, live in persistently stressful family environments, have children with behavioural issues, or care for the chronically ill. Women are more prone to being codependent than men.

Individuals in the helping professions are also more likely to be involved in codependent relationships. It is believed that one-third of nurses experience moderate to severe codependency. Nurses must be sensitive to the needs of others and often put their own feelings aside for the benefit of their patients. They may also find validation in their abilities to care for others, and that need may extend into their personal lives.

How Do I Identify Codependent Relationships

While codependency cannot be detected through a lab test or a brain scan, you can ask yourself certain questions to help you spot codependent behaviour.

  • Do you feel compelled to serve others?
  • Do you attempt to control events and how others should behave?
  • Are you afraid to let others be themselves and allow events to unfold naturally?
  • Do you feel ashamed of who you are?
  • Do you try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, compulsion, threats, advice, manipulation, or domination?
  • Do you have trouble asking for help?
  • Do you feel compelled or forced to help others resolve their problems (e.g., offer advice)?
  • Do you frequently hide how you truly feel?
  • Do you avoid open conversations about problems?
  • Do you shove uncomfortable thoughts and feelings away from your mind?
  • Do you blame and put yourself down?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, it may point to codependent behaviour patterns in your relationships. Identifying these behaviours is a key step toward learning how to stop being codependent.

What Does a Codependent Relationship Look Like?

A person in a codependent relationship typically has difficulties conveying their own thoughts and feelings and instead begins to take on those of others in order to feel accepted, connected, and have self-worth.

Why Do Codependents Love Narcissists?

People suffering from codependency may create relationships with those suffering from NPD. Typically, the two partners establish complementary roles to meet the requirements of the other. The codependent has found a companion into whom they can pour their hearts, and the narcissistic has found someone who prioritizes their wants.

Final Thoughts

Seek professional treatment if you feel you are codependent in your relationship and are struggling to make positive changes. You can begin by talking to your doctor about how to stop being codependent in your relationships, or you can immediately contact a mental health expert.

Consider online therapy if you are uncomfortable communicating with a therapist in person or are apprehensive about attending a group. You can communicate with a therapist from the comfort of your own home through video, live chat, or messages on one of your personal devices.

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