Do you spend your time taking care of others and putting yourself last? Do you feel emotionally drained by your relationships, like your needs are invisible? If you recognize yourself in these questions, you may be thinking more about codependency and what it means for you.
Codependent behaviors are self-destructive and can trap you in a cycle of emotional pain. Learning to overcome codependency can bring on anxiety at first, but don’t give up. One step at a time, you can change codependent habits into a stronger sense of self.
1. Recognize what codependency means for you
Codependency is an unhealthy way to meet your need for self-worth or self-esteem. Getting out of these harmful patterns means taking ownership of your part of the cycle.
The first step is identifying behaviors and specific aspects of your mindset. It may be challenging at first because they seem normal to you. However, a little thoughtful observation can help you identify them. Consider the following questions:
- Do you worry about being abandoned or rejected?
- What are your most common people-pleasing behaviors?
- Do you quickly agree with others before considering your own thoughts?
- Does saying “no” make you feel nervous?
- Do you often feel overworked and underappreciated?
- Do you take on other people’s responsibilities, with or without them asking?
2. Understand your unhealthy beliefs
Codependency is based on distorted beliefs about yourself. They drive your emotions and behaviors, keeping you feeling stuck and hurt. Challenging these beliefs is essential to overcoming codependency. See how many you recognize in yourself.
- You are not enough just as you are.
- You can improve your worth to others by doing more, being more agreeable, causing less conflict, etc.
- You are not loveable.
- Your value is based on what others need from you, think of you, and feel about you.
- Feelings are unpredictable and scary.
- Self-care is a luxury.
- You don’t deserve to take care of yourself.
- You don’t deserve to enjoy life.
- You are to blame when things go wrong.
- Be nice and quiet so others can feel comfortable.
3. Understand what you can and cannot control
Codependent behavior is based on a misunderstanding. You believe that people stay connected with you because you avoid conflict and make things easy for them. You may feel like you can influence how people feel or think about you because of what you do for them.
The truth is that you can only control yourself. Trying to manage other people’s reactions will keep you feeling drained and unsure of yourself. It can take time to start recognizing this difference. But when you do, you’ll begin to empower yourself.
4. Say no to people-pleasing behavior
Do you have a habit of saying “yes” too easily? People in your circle are probably used to this, and some may take advantage of you. You may feel like saying “yes” keeps the peace and makes others happy with you. But eventually, the one-sided relationship will lead to feelings of resentment.
People-pleasing behavior is exhausting, so drawing this boundary is essential. Sometimes you need to say “no” to find out what’s best for you. You cannot control how other people react no matter how much you try to please them. When you say “no,” you let go of others and gain more control over yourself.
5. Offer yourself compassion
Making change is hard. As you adjust your mindset and behaviors, you’ll likely feel uncomfortable. You may even believe you’re making a mistake by doing things differently. Saying “no” or taking time for yourself can feel foreign. It may seem like everything’s a jumble for a while. And in those tough moments, offer yourself some kindness and compassion.
6. Find your self-worth and purpose
Codependency means you look for your self-worth in the eyes of others. So growing in a different direction means you need to find purpose on your own. If you’ve buried your interests or stopped exploring them for a while, take a little time to think it over.
Consider what’s meaningful to you or what you believe in. When you find ways to expand those purpose-filled ideas in your life, you’ll start to understand who you are outside of your relationships.
7. Consider therapy if this feels too overwhelming or you feel stuck
Making this much change can take a lot of work. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Just small changes can make a big difference.
If you’ve struggled with codependency for a long time, counseling therapy may be helpful. A caring and knowledgeable therapist can give you guidance and support. As you become more confident and self-assured, you may be ready to do more on your own.
Overcoming codependency – stepping forward
Codependency can make you feel like you’re always on an emotional rollercoaster. Your emotions whip around like a leaf in the wind. These tips can help you see a different way forward, learning to know and care about yourself instead of everyone else.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.