Stop Codependency From Ruining Your Life and Relationships
Are you tired of feeling like no relationship will ever work? Does it seem impossible to find someone who treats you decently? If the answer is yes, you might be codependent. Codependency isn't easy to recognize, but you can learn to recognize the signs and prevent it from ruining your life and relationships.
Codependency is a dysfunctional “helping” relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility or under-achievement. Codependent people are often desperate for approval and affirmation and on the opposite end, may be controlling and manipulative or blame others for their own shortcomings. Codependents may also be very anxious or depressed, use alcohol or drugs excessively and feel worthless.
It's important to understand that codependency is not an uncommon problem; it affects many people to varying degrees. It's estimated that as many as 60 million Americans are affected by this condition in some way.
Noticing that you have feelings is the first step in taking care of yourself. Codependent people have trouble identifying their own feelings; they're so busy trying to help others that they don't take the time to figure out what they're feeling — or even if they should be feeling anything at all.
Codependents may struggle with relationships because they tend to confuse love with pity — giving without receiving much back in return — which can lead them into unhealthy relationships where they give more than they get back out of them.
You can't cure codependency overnight. It's a process that often takes years. But you can progress if you're willing to set aside time to work on the problem.
If you want to break free from codependent relationships, here are some tips that may help:
Recognize your feelings and needs. You should notice your own feelings and needs, such as:
I want to be loved.
I want to be heard.
I want privacy and space.
I need a break from people sometimes.
Ask for what you need and express how you feel. Asking others for what you need is challenging at first because it requires admitting that you don't always have everything under control or that someone else might know better than you how to solve your problems — both things most codependents don't want to admit about themselves or their relationships with others. But learning how to ask for help when needed can improve your relationships with family members, friends, coworkers and even strangers because it shows them that you value their opinions as much as — if not more than — your own.
You've been trying so hard to please everyone around you that you've forgotten what it feels like to be happy. You can't keep doing this; it's time to stop codependency from ruining your life.
How codependency is developed
Codependency is a learned behavior that people develop when they don't get the love and acceptance they need from their caregivers as children. As adults, codependent people often find themselves in relationships with abusive partners or become caretakers for family members struggling with addiction or mental illness.
Codependent people want to please others so badly that they'll do anything for them — even if it hurts them in the process. This can cause serious problems in their relationships with friends and family members because codependents often sacrifice their own needs and wants to make someone else happy.
Codependent people also tend to be very sensitive and empathetic towards others' emotions, making them excellent listeners but bad communicators when it comes to expressing their feelings. This means that when a codependent person has something negative on their mind, they're afraid of saying anything because they don't want anyone else to feel bad or think less of them for having.
You've acted as a caretaker for so long that you may not even know your emotions, thoughts, or needs. And no one else can fill those gaps -- it's your job to do it.
You might think being a "fixer" or "rescuer" is helpful and kind. But when you allow someone else to be in charge of their own feelings and choices, you're doing them a disservice.
In fact, by trying to fix someone else's problems, you may actually be contributing to them. That's because codependents often have low self-esteem and a fear of rejection, making them hesitant to express themselves honestly (or at all).
When you try to fix someone else's problems -- whether they want your help or not -- you're taking on all the responsibility for their wellbeing and happiness. And since one person can't possibly meet all another person's needs, this approach doesn't work well in the long run.
We all have a tendency toward codependency. It's natural to want to make others happy, but in a codependent relationship, the focus isn't on meeting your own needs. Instead, it's on meeting the needs of someone else.
If you're in this kind of relationship, you may feel as if you're walking on eggshells — afraid of saying or doing anything that might upset someone else because it might cause them to leave.
Codependency comes from a place of fear, and it can create an unhealthy pattern in your relationships. But learning how to express yourself constructively can help break these patterns.
Being able to express your needs requires self-awareness and assertiveness skills. If you've been bottling up your feelings for so long that you don't even know what they are anymore, start by becoming aware of what makes you angry or happy. Then practice saying those things out loud and watching how people react. If they're receptive, continue practicing until it feels more natural to share what's on your mind without making people mad at you or leaving them feeling hurt.
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