If you are codependent, chances are, you let someone else define you and your sense of worth. Your self-esteem is damaged, and may have been since childhood. And even though people dominate you and abuse you physically or emotionally, you still try to maintain your relationships. You try to please. It’s hard to admit, but you have been participating in dysfunctional relationships. You’re codependent.
Put an End to Denial
It’s very difficult to face the fact that you’re codependent, and may have been all your life. You have probably depended on denial as a defense mechanism to keep your pain at bay. So breaking through that denial feels like a terrible risk. And sometimes it means breaking a chain of dysfunction that’s been going on for generations in your family. Being the first to break that chain takes courage. And assessing your behavior patterns takes courage. But you can’t fix what you can’t identify. So you must strip away denial and face the problem squarely. It is the critical first step to recovery.
Let Go of Unhealthy Relationships
When you are trying to overcome codependency, you need to think of yourself first for a change. This does not mean you are being selfish. It means you are wounded and you must take care of yourself. This is often a radical change for codependents, and frequently very difficult. If you have been covering for an alcoholic, you need to stop calling the boss and making excuses. If you have been pleasing your friends by taking on too many tasks, you need to learn to say no. If you have been rushing to placate your partner’s temper tantrum, you need to stop. You need to disengage. You need to let go of your involvement with these people who suck your time and energy. Stop taking responsibility for others and start taking responsibility for yourself. You cannot fix someone else. You can only fix yourself.
Start Setting Boundaries
Healthy self-esteem takes time to nurture and grow. If you have been codependent most of your life, you are in a vulnerable place. You need to establish your sense of self without depending on someone else to tell you who you are. This takes time and patience. You will need to tune into your own feelings and needs and learn to communicate them in your relationships. When someone expects you to put your own needs aside to accommodate them, you need to say no. Let them know you are no longer going to dance to their music. You have your own song and you must listen to your deepest self. It is time to say no to others and yes to yourself.
Learn to Accept Help
As the person who was always the fixer, always the one who took responsibility for everyone else’s behavior, it may be hard for you to seek and accept help from others. But overcoming codependency is a journey and oftentimes a frightening one. You will need help to heal. And just as you would find a good doctor to mend your broken arm, you should find a good counselor to help you mend your emotional wounds. It should be someone you can absolutely trust. You must feel safe to explore painful feelings. You must feel that you can relate to this person in a healthy, mature way. If you try one counselor and are not perfectly comfortable, try another. You are too important not to expect to overcome codependency completely. And begin to live your life in new and healthier ways.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.