3 Behavioral Hacks to Overcome Toxic Codependency
Take responsibility for your own happiness.
I use to hear the word codependent and immediately say, "No, that's not me."
Who wants to admit they are codependent? No one.
It just sounds so weak… to be codependent.
The truth is, I was very codependent.
If you are suffering from codependency, it doesn't mean you are weak. It doesn't mean you cannot handle being alone. Through experience, I learned the steps I needed to take to stop being so codependent.
If codependency is negatively affecting your relationships and you are ready to get help, continue reading. If you are not ready and willing, you'll be wasting your time.
What exactly is codependency?
If you are unfamiliar with codependency or just now realizing you may be very well be codependent, you are probably wondering what it is or what it even means to be codependent.
It is common misconception to believe that codependency only means that you are with someone who has an addiction. While this is one definition, it goes beyond that.
Today, we also see codependency as a relationship where a person (or possibly both people are) is extremely obsessed with someone else and they have emotional, physical, and social dependence upon that person.
Codependency is when a person loses the ability to be independent. They stop practicing self-care. A codependent person becomes completely overdependent upon the other person.
What causes codependency?
My own personal codependency was caused by growing up in an unstable and unsupportive environment. For many people, it is usually caused by some form of childhood trauma or neglect.
Some factors could be:
- A chaotic household
- An unsupportive family
- An abusive family
- Childhood neglect
- Being manipulated
- Being shamed
- Harsh punishments
- Lack of professional help
- High expectations
This list goes on, but these are some common examples of how codependent behavior can be influenced by your environment.
Signs you are codependent
Now that you know the environment it takes to create a codependent person, here are some of the common behaviors that go with codependency.
- Trying to please everyone all of the time: Being a people-pleaser to keep the peace is an example of codependent behavior.
- Saying yes or no to everything: If you had strict boundaries growing up, you may set unrealistic expectations and say no to everything. Or it could be the opposite, you may not have any boundaries because you struggled to stand up for yourself growing up and that carried over into adulthood.
- Fear: This can apply to many things, especially with codependency. I struggled with my fear of being abandoned. For many people, codependent behavior can come out in form of anxiety because they fear being alone. This example applies to intense fear over things you shouldn’t fear at all.
- Control issues: Many codependent people struggle with being very controlling. This can be because they felt controlled or that their life has been out of control.
- Needing to have a lot of responsibility: If you feel the need to have a lot of responsibility to determine your worth, this could be codependent behavior.
- Trust issues: You could have had your trust broken in the past, so now you feel you cannot trust anyone. This causes codependent people to cling on tightly and push people away. This is a form of self-sabotage.
How to stop being codependent
If you got this far and you feel like you may be codependent, you are probably wondering how to change it.
Contrary to popular belief, the relationships that you are currently in don’t have to end for you to change your codependent behavior.
While most codependent relationships are toxic, if you learn to identify the behaviors making you codependent, it is possible to make the necessary changes to salvage those relationships.
1. Identify the codependent behaviors in your relationship
If you don’t know your codependent behaviors, how can you change them?
It is important to first identify your negative behaviors, so you can change them.
Look for the patterns of codependent behavior by utilizing a list. If you keep track of what you are doing, you will realize the behaviors you need to stop.
This is a first step for all codependent people because you need to know how you’re being codependent to change it.
My therapist suggested this to me. I found it to be very effective in alleviating my codependency.
2. Work through your past issues
I was aware of my codependent behaviors for a long time before getting help. Without the proper help to work through my issues, I couldn’t change.
Everyone’s path to healing is going to be different, so don’t set expectations based on what worked for someone else.
You cannot ignore codependency and expect it to just go away. It doesn’t work like that. You have to be willing to work through your issues.
The unresolved conflicts or traumas from your past are probably causing these behaviors. Take the time to analyze your past. You could even talk to a professional about these traumas.
It is brave to seek help. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
It will be emotionally and mentally draining to face your past at first, but it is essential to move forward in this process.
3. Practice self-care
One of the most important steps in overcoming codependency is learning to take care of yourself. Codependent people know how to care for others. But they lack the ability to give the same love to themselves.
No one can love your codependency away. It is vital to love yourself before trying to love someone else.
Give yourself the same compassion that you give other people. What are the things that will make you happy? It is important to learn to love yourself and to be open to your feelings and needs.
Remember that you are important and you are worthy. Practice doing things by yourself. Exercise your independence. Even if it is just as simple as watching TV, taking a bath, or going for a walk, these are huge steps to take in overcoming codependency!
The journey to overcoming codependency will take a lot of time and patience. Temptation will try and drive you back to old habits. Overcoming codependency will inevitably take more than just one step or one try. However, if you are willing to stick to it, it is possible to change these behaviors.
You will find that it is very rewarding to overcome codependency!
Don’t forget to practice self-care!
This post was originally published on Medium.