Realizing you were or are codependent in a relationship hits like a freight train. But if you’re ready to stop looking to others for their approval and over-relying on them, keep reading. You’ll find effective ways to stop being codependent and find your independence again so your next or current relationship will be a healthier one.
Look for patterns. Codependency is not a one-size-fits-all thing. In fact, it affects everyone differently. That’s why identifying patterns within your behavior is a good start. That could as simple as trying to constantly fix your partner’s problems or having a hard time asking for help. These are symptoms of relying on validation from others. You need to acknowledge these recurring patterns so that you can tackle them appropriately.
Practice selfishness in a good way. Attunement to your relationships and sensitivity to the needs of others are signs of codependency. It’s not necessarily in a negative sense, but when you neglect your needs and limitations it can turn into that. Turn all that effort and giving behavior you’d give someone else to you. Honor your feelings for once. Just be sure to do it without judging yourself or like you don’t deserve it–because you do.
Enable healthy boundaries. Boundaries should be set in place for a reason. It creates a better environment for both you and your partner while also ensuring you’re true to yourself. Give yourself some time and think about where your limitations lie. Figure out what’s acceptable and what’s not. Practice declining requests that interfere with your boundaries so that they stick. If you don’t enforce boundaries, you’re allowing people to disregard your wants and needs.
Resist the need to fix everything. A healthy relationship is comprised of two self-assured adults. However, the lines can blur between being helpful and being codependent. Always trying to fix your partner’s problems isn’t allowing them to work through them on their own. Most likely, they just want you to listen to their issues, not solve them. Stepping out of a “fixer” mindset is tough, but not impossible. Be there for your partner with compassion and helpfulness, but don’t assume you know their exact wants and needs. Let them explain that to you.
You’re the only one in control of your actions. The same goes for your partner. They’re the only one in control of their actions. Focusing on lack of control and their lack of change will make you miserable. That can lead to resentment and disappointment within yourself. You need to remember the only person you’re responsible for is you. Another person’s behavior isn’t yours to change or influence. Accepting uncertainty is scary. But sometimes it’s what needs to happen to make a relationship stronger.
Know your needs. When you push past the fear of abandonment or losing your relationship, that’s where you can listen to yourself wholeheartedly. Turn into yourself and ask what you really need. Slow down, check in with yourself, and at that moment, allow yourself to be human. Don’t punish yourself for making a mistake or taking time to understand your needs and wants.
Take care of yourself. Codependency usually happens because of low self-esteem. You look for others’ approval that you’re doing things right or that you’re making them happy. But are you doing the same with yourself? Asking if you’re happy? If there’s anything you need? Establish your value and self-worth by taking care of yourself like you would someone else. Show yourself some love. Spend time by yourself, doing the things you enjoy.
Put your own growth first. Just like putting your needs and self-care first, your growth needs to be up there in priority. If you neglect yourself, your relationships–whether platonic or romantic–will suffer. You need to be your own advocate for taking breaks and reevaluating where you’re at in life. Setting goals, scheduling time to spend on your hobbies, and practicing saying “no” act as a starting line. What’s important is sticking with it. You owe it to yourself to evolve, not to be stuck in a life you’re unhappy with.
Surround yourself with a strong support system. Some advice says it’s a bad idea to bring friends and family into a relationship. But when you’re dealing with codependency, there’s nothing wrong with people holding you accountable for your actions. Your friends and family want to see you succeed. Letting them in will give you the support needed to change your codependent ways. Just be sure they don’t add fuel to the fire; they’re there to help you, not the other way around. This is another instance where you’ll need to let go of control.
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