Do you put others’ happiness before your own?
Is it hard to say, “No” when your partner makes demands on your time and energy?
Do you let someone else’s opinion of you hold more weight than it should?
Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
Do you cover up or justify your partner’s bad habits, such as drug or alcohol abuse?
Do you keep attracting those who need ‘fixing’?
If you answered Yes to more than 3 of these questions you could be codependent in relationships. Codependency is the result of unhealthy boundaries forming between two people where one has an excessive reliance on the other person for approval, love, and sense of identity. A classic “model” of the codependent relationship includes a person with substance abuse and someone who is an enabler. However codependency comes in many shapes and forms where one person allows negative behaviors, in order to gain love in return. In trying to be the best person for everyone else, codependents are people pleasers.
Those that are codependents often have the following characteristics because as they focus on taking care of others they forget to take care of themselves.
- Struggle to say “No”
- Have poor boundaries
- Feel compelled to take care of others
- Have trouble communicating honestly
- Fixate on mistakes
- Want to be liked by everyone
- Always want to be in relationship
- Have intimacy issues
- Deny their own needs and feelings
- Fear of abandonment
When you grow up with your needs being neglected whether it’s because your parents are just too busy, or one of your loved ones is an addict or having a caregiver who has narcissistic qualities i.e. putting themselves first and disregarding others, it creates codependent tendencies later in life. In each of these dynamics we see a lack of emotional connection with those most important to us. They are unable to validate our feelings and so as we grow up it becomes harder to validate ourselves, know our self-worth or our needs, which in turns plays out in the future as unhealthy codependent relationships
SO HOW DO WE REMOVE OURSELVES FROM TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS?
Well before anything in life can change we need to be aware of it first. It’s helpful to imagine yourself “stepping out” of your life and watching it on TV. Play back various scenes with you and your loved ones or coworkers. From this vantage point you create a neutral stance to embrace your reality and see it clearly. Next you need to become aware of your goals and needs in order to establish healthy boundaries. How do you want to be treated, how do you want to be feeling and what do you want to create in your partnerships? And lastly you become clear on your inner dialogue and feelings so you can navigate the day to day to achieve those goals and needs!
To make this transformation requires self-love and self-esteem.
Start right now by saying out loud:
“I have a right to feel the way I do.”
“My feelings are my responsibility.”
“It’s my job to love and validate myself, not anybody else.”
“Not everyone needs to agree with me or get my feelings.”
“I can’t make people love me.”
“I nurture my own wants and desires.”
“I set clear and firm boundaries.”
Give Yourself the LOVE you Crave
Give yourself the love you have ALWAYS deserved. This can be easier said than done because we often determine our ability to be loved by the amount of love others have given us. It’s time to start spending time with yourself and discover what your spirit is craving. Do you want to go for a walk, do you want to draw, bike, have a massage? Don’t wait for your partner anymore, get out there and do it. When you realize that you are able to love yourself — and I mean truly love yourself — your whole life can and will change. Many of us go through life waiting to hear those specific words from our caregivers and loved ones. For example: “You’re perfect just as you are. I love you.” , “You are a great daughter/son. I’m proud of you.” “I love spending time with you, you’re important.” Don’t wait to hear these words, discover what it is you need most to hear and say it to yourself! Develop a connection to your inner world. See yourself as self-reliant, smart, and capable. It is a powerful realization to have and once you accept that you are deserving of the love you crave, you will begin to accept nothing less. To support you I have created a Loveable audio recording to build self-love and self-esteem.
Give Yourself Permission to Say “NO”
I’m aware how much of a struggle saying the word “no” can be for those of us that have been in codependent relationships, however you should never fear the word No. I find the fear of saying no comes from the fear that we are going to lose love, but if you can’t be who you are and share your feelings and boundaries than thats NOT love you are experiencing! If what you are being asked to do does not benefit you in any way say NO! Practice saying no to small things everyday and it will make saying no to bigger things easier and easier. What’s unfamiliar to us seems hard and uncomfortable, but the more you do it the more familiar it WILL become. Soon sticking up for your boundaries will be second nature, which brings us to the next step.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Well to set boundaries you need to discover what they are! Tune into your feelings, your emotions are guide posts to what’s right for you. If you feel calm and good then the activity or situation is good for you. If you are feeling anxious, stressed and bad the situation is Not good for you and you need to remove yourself from it. Say no. Putting your foot down, and standing up for yourself becomes easier as you connect with yourself, build your self love and self esteem. When first establishing boundaries that are new you can experience push back from others. This is a defining moment for your relationship. Not all codependent dynamics need to be let go, but they must be transformed. If your partner is not willing to support your new boundaries and encourage them they aren’t loving and supporting you. With your high self esteem you will no longer settle for anything less than a partner who fully loves you just as much as they love themselves. Hold firm to your boundaries and watch your life start to change for the better.
Practice Letting Go
This last step comes naturally when you’ve become aware of your toxic relationship and have begun to love yourself and set healthy boundaries. Soon your self Love will be oozing out of you in a radiant confidence. You know you no longer need this unhealthy dynamic to receive love, because you validate yourself. Now it’s time to let go of all unhealthy situations that aren’t serving you. As you love your Self and see your worth, you’ll be so attractive to others and start to experience healthier relationships.
Of course there are more exercises to heal from codependency than just these 4, but these will give you a tremendous boost on your way. Do your own research. The more we understand something the better it works for us. It requires work on a daily basis to keep getting better, but it is work worth doing and transformations can be rapid when we’re ready for them!