How to Stop Being Codependent (Steps)

How to Stop Being Codependent

Codependency is the term that refers to a specific pattern of an individual that is to prioritize the needs of a relationship with family or partners over their own personal desires and needs. This prioritizing goes beyond general terms in a relationship like :

  • Wanting to help a loved one who is struggling in life
  • Feeling comfortable in their presence
  • Do not want them to leave
  • Making sacrifices occasionally on your part to help a loved one

 In this article, we will discuss how to stop being codependent. People also sometimes use this term to describe some behaviors that do not fall within the domain of this term which might lead to confusion in these cases. You can think of codependency as a support behavior that is towards the extreme side and can be taken as unhealthy because of it. Codependency is also used to describe enabling behaviors in addiction counseling which are basically affected by substance abuse but this can be applied in different kinds of behaviors. There are some pointers which can help you to learn, how to stop being codependent.some of these pointers are explained below :

How to Stop Being Codependent (Steps)

How to Stop Being Codependent: First, separate showing support from codependency

There is always a thin line between having a supportive, healthy behavior and being in a codependent relationship having unhealthy behaviors which can often be a bit blurry. After all, it is pretty normal to help your significant other or your loved ones in their time of need or when they are passing through a tough time in their life. But according to some experts codependency can be referred to as an indirect way to try and control or direct the feelings, thinkings, mood, or behavior of the other person. You are trying to be the decision-maker for them and jumping ahead of them to make their decisions for them by directing them on what they should be doing and what they should not do.  In this article, we will discuss how to stop being codependent.

This might be not the intention of the person that is to control their loved one but with you making the decision with time your partner or loved one will become more dependent on your advice, decisions or your help and will not try to complete things on their own which will make them more lazy and incompetent in life. While in the meantime you might feel a different sense of fulfillment by making all of those decisions and sacrificing your time for doing things for your loved ones or your partner. Some of the key signs that signify the codependency in a relationship might also include :

  • Preoccupation with the well-being of your partner or their behavior
  • Worrying more about your partner and their behavior than they do themselves
  • Your mood depends on the acts and feelings of your partner

How to Stop Being Codependent: Identify patterns in your life

Now once you get the know-how of what really codependency looks like in actual, you can always take a step back from your daily routine and from your relationship and then try to identify those specific patterns that are recurring which might be pointing either directly or indirectly towards codependency in your past and current relationships. One of the experts and a licensed clinical social worker, Ellen Biros, stated that these patterns of codependent behavior and codependency are basically rooted in a person from their childhood. These are specific patterns that can be learned by a child from his parents and are usually the norms for him in a relationship which he also follows throughout his life in his relationships until and unless they are put to a stop. But it is hard to stop a pattern or break it even before you notice it yourself so the first step is always to identify these patterns and then work on the part of breaking them.

Biros also stated that people with the tendency of codependency rely mostly on the validation from others rather than their own self-validation of their actions and gestures. These tendencies of sacrificing oneself for their partner might end up making you feel more closer to them which might result in you becoming uncomfortable, aimless, or experiencing low self-esteem or having no purpose in life when you are not doing anything for them. The key to breaking these feelings of hopelessness is to identify these patterns, acknowledge them, and then work on the key points to overcome them.  In this article, we will discuss how to stop being codependent.

How to Stop Being Codependent (Steps)

How to Stop Being Codependent: Learn what healthy love looks like

This does not mean that all unhealthy relationships can be termed to as being codependent relationships but it can be said that it is true the other way around that all the codependent relationships can be termed as unhealthy ones. This does not specify that people within codependent relationships are doomed or are goners, it is just for them to realize how they can turn this relationship into a healthy one. The first step for this turn around maybe to think about the things and to learn about a non-codependent, healthy relationship and how those factors can be included in their relationship and what changes can be made. Some of the signs of a healthy relationship are :

  • Both partners trust each other and themselves.
  • Both partners have a sense of security within their own worth
  • Both partners are able to compromise based on the situation

A healthy relationship states that both of the partners must be able to securely communicate about their feelings, emotions, and needs and the other partner should also care about your feelings and emotions. There should be no pressure on you if you want to differ from the opinion of your partner or voice your feelings or want to say no to something that conflicts with your own interests or needs. In this article, we will discuss how to stop being codependent.

How to Stop Being Codependent: Set boundaries for yourself

The boundary is known as the limit or space that you set around certain things or behaviors you are not much comfortable with. These boundaries are not always easy to stick or set but they are good in the long run. Especially if you have been in long-standing codependency, it might be difficult for you to set these boundaries as you might be more accustomed to comforting others that you are unable to or it is very hard for you to define your own limits. It might take some time and some practice before you are able to define and honor your own boundaries firmly, here are some tips which can further help you in defining those boundaries :

  • There is no harm with listening with empathy, but that is all you should do and should not get yourself involved in the problem unless you are already involved in it and do not offer solutions or try to jump ahead in it and try to fix it completely for them.
  • You should be able to refuse the other person politely if you do not know how too then it is better to practice it in your daily routine. Try saying, “I cannot do it tonight but maybe finish it another time” or “I am really sorry but I am busy at the moment so I will not be able to help you out.”
  • It is a good practice to always ask yourself a set of questions before you start doing something. Some of these questions are listed as :
    • Do I feel l have to or do I want to do this?
    • Why do I need to do this or Why am I doing this?
    • Will doing this end up in draining my own resources?
    • After this, will I be able to finish my own things?

How to Stop Being Codependent: Remember, you can only control your own actions

Generally, if you are trying to control the actions of someone else, it does not work out fully but there is always a need to feel validated by others on your ability to care and support your partner and if you cannot get that validation from anyone you might end up feeling bad and miserable. This might end up in you becoming more disappointed and resentful towards them while seeing that your efforts and pushing are going down the drain with having little or no effect on your partner. This can also generate a sense of worthlessness or it can also make you more determined than before to try harder for generating those changes in your partner.  In this article, we will discuss how to stop being codependent.

Remember to control your own actions when you want to learn how to stop being codependent. It is also possible to stop this cycle from continuing itself over and over again, the first step to be taken is to remind oneself that you can only control the emotions and feelings of yourself and not others. The main responsibility on your shoulders is to manage your own reactions and behaviors and not of your partners or anyone else. Giving up trying to control your partner might end up in you accepting the uncertainty of the future as no one has the surety of what will happen which can be scary at times as there is also a chance that you might end up in losing your relationship or being alone which are the basic fears that result in a codependent relationship. But on the brighter side, if your relationship is healthier, it has more chance of lasting even longer than longer.  In this article, we will discuss how to stop being codependent.

How to Stop Being Codependent (Steps)

How to Stop Being Codependent: Offer healthy support

Offer healthy support when you want to learn how to stop being codependent. You can always offer healthy support to your partner and there is nothing wrong with it, the issue basically generates in the way you offer support to your partner, if you end up sacrificing your own needs then it is unhealthy support. Some of the signs of healthy support include:

  • Listening to the worries and problems of your partner
  • Talking with them about their problems so as to get new perspectives
  • Offering them advice and suggestions only when they asked for it and then keeping a low profile so that they can make their own decisions.
  • Having a discussion related to the possible situation that they can take rather than making a decision for them
  • Offering acceptance and compassion towards them

Remember it is good to show love and care for your partner by being there for them when they need support or by spending time with them without trying to control them or manage them or direct their behaviors. Both of the partners should value each other in the relationship for who they are and not what they can do and will do for the benefit of each other.

How to Stop Being Codependent: Consider therapy

Consider therapy when you want to learn how to stop being codependent. Codependency is a relationship and the traits of being codependent on one another can become the basic parts of the behavior and personality and it becomes difficult to identify these patterns on your own and are more often missed out on. Even if sometimes you can notice or identify these patterns, codependency is still pretty hard to overcome and the procedure can be hard as it is really difficult to identify those patterns by the person himself and then try to break them. It is recommended to seek the help of a licensed psychiatrist or a therapist who can help you overcome those patterns with more ease. Some of the things that can help you during the process are :

  • Take steps towards identifying and addressing such patterns of codependency
  • Work on increasing your own self-worth and self-esteem
  • Explore different options in life and what you will like from it
  • Challenge and reframe the negative thought pattern.
How to Stop Being Codependent (Steps)

FAQ about how to stop being a codependent 

  1. What are the signs of a codependent person?

Some of the signs of codependency in a person include:

  • When they have difficulty identifying their feelings.
  • It is difficult for them to make decisions on their own.
  • It is difficult for you to communicate in a relationship.
  1. What causes codependency?

Codependency might come into play when one of the people in the relationship has an addiction. They might have the addiction to shopping or gambling or might even abuse substances that might end up in causing problems outside the relationship with the other person covering up for their partner.

References

ZenCare (n.d.): “How to Stop Being Codependent: Recognizing and Moving Past Codependency”

Healthline (n.d.): “8 Tips for Overcoming Codependence”

How to Stop Being Codependent (Steps)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

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