Codependency is a behavior that you might start learning early in life. If you grow up around people who are struggling with codependency in relationships, you might grow up to do the same thing. One definition of co-dependency that is useful is: you feel responsible for the feelings and behaviors of others. In a co-dependent situation you try desperately to make the other person okay. The truth is, that just is not possible. Every individual adult is responsible for themselves-their thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Since codependency is a learned behavior, it can be changed by learning how to engage in new behaviors. Continue reading for some healthy tips for changing and learning how to stop codependent patterns.
1. Start with Small Changes
Going cold turkey with quitting codependent behaviors can be a shock to your system. Our behavior patterns get wired into our brains. Old behaviors are well worn patterns that are the easiest to follow without thinking about it. You’ve most likely been engaging in codependent behavior for some time. Changing overnight isn’t realistic.
Don’t think that you have to completely change your life today. You might have to take smaller steps to create new patterns relationships so that you don’t get overwhelmed and then regress into old patterns of thinking and behaving. This is completely okay if it happens, and actually it is to be expected in any change process.
2. It is Okay to Set Boundaries
It’s okay to say “no” sometimes, especially when it means you don’t have to do something that you really don’t want to do. You may need to reframe your current boundaries so that you can focus on healing your past self and strengthening your new way of doing things.
This might be uncomfortable at first. It will likely get easier as time goes on. Start to ask yourself what your needs are. Allow youself to consider your needs as being a priority before what other people want from you. Setting boundaries means that you are standing up for yourself and stating what your needs are. You can only do the things that you are truly comfortable with.
3. Practice Honest Communication
Learning how to communicate in relationships can be essential to learning how to change patters. Be honest with yourself and the people you are in relationships with. Be clear and concise about what you do and do not want.
If you do something you don’t want to do, you will find yourself resenting the other person in the relationship. If you lie to someone to try to make them feel better, you will likely feel worse.
When it comes to arguments, do your best to not react. Attempt to respond in a cool, calm, and collected manner. Reactions lead to hurt feelings and regret soon after the words leave your mouth.
4. Practice Self-Care
You’ve spent so much time taking care of others wants and needs that you’ve likely merged with them. You don’t know where you end and where they begin. It’s time to put yourself first and get to know yourself again.
Small self-focused acts of kindness aren’t selfish, even though the other person might say it is. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re being selfish because you are focusing on yourself rather than other people. It’s not your job to make sure that everyone else is thriving.
Self-compassion is essential to your mental health and overall wellbeing. You don’t deserve to be treated badly, and you need to stop telling yourself that. It is helpful to learn to recognize negative self-talk and replace it with more forgiving self-talk.
5. Let Go of Control
You don’t have to be in control or control others to feel love and happiness. Controlling every aspect of your relationships doesn’t work. In the end, it only leads to resentment, exhaustion, and burnout.
Being codependent in a dysfunctional relationship generally means that you likely spend a lot of time worrying about others and how to change them. You can’t change them. If they aren’t ready to change, they won’t.
Every individual person is responsible for themselves. You can’t solve the problems of others, and you don’t have to.
Place that responsibility for others back in their hands. Let them learn from their mistakes without being there to pick up the pieces for them. This allows them to deal with the consequences of their actions without making you feel responsible.
Codependent behaviors generally lead to being so entirely consumed by another person that you begin to lose pieces of yourself. If you you’ve lost yourself in relationships, you may have to do the work to know yourself again, or find out who you are for the first time if these patterns started with your family.
6. See a Therapist
It’s okay to ask for help. If you seek counseling for codependency, you can start healing past trauma. Remember, codependency is learned and you can also unlearn it.
Your emotions are valid, now is the time to start to learn how to feel your feelings. Rather than pushing them down or bottling them up to avoid conflict in a codependent relationship, you can learn to embrace them. Feelings of anger and resentment may surface. Feelings can help you figure out what you didn’t like about being in a codependent situation.
If you are afraid/terrified to set boundaries or follow some of the suggestions here, you may have underlying trauma that needs to be addressed. Please don’t expect youself to follow some quick tips and change long held patterns overnight.
Codependency Is an Unhealthy Pattern in Relationships
Codependency is an unhealthy and often learned behavior that you may have needed to get by in relationships. There are healthy ways to detach from a codependent relationship without causing harm to you or others.
Detachment doesn’t even mean that you have to end your relationship. Think of detachment as self-preservation. You are separating yourself from the patterns in relationships so that you can find individuality.
Contact Center of Balance Counseling today to learn healthy new patterns in your life and relationships and resolve the issues that are at the root of codependent behaviors.