If you’re in a relationship or situation where you feel like you can’t let go of a person or people because you’re afraid without them you’re incapable of living, surviving, and having the life you want, then you’re in a codependent relationship. The problem with codependent relationships is that they become abusive, harmful to individual growth, painful, and can ultimately make you miserable and afraid. Some codependents experience drug or alcohol abuse, sex addiction, or self destructive behaviors.
Unfortunately, recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, arduous process to regain self control and power through the means of evaluating and improving our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our being. It takes commitment, dedication and self discipline to work through the past and present drama on the path of well being.
Take Stock of Your Feelings
Codependent people avoid dealing with their feelings or external sources to mask their feelings through means such as eating, drinking, drugs, or sex. In such relationships, communicating feelings is avoided and emotions are ignored or minimized. Codependents feel anger, confusion, isolation, or even happiness but feel they must hide their feelings from others.
Take stock of your feelings and realize that it’s OK to feel and to experience life exactly as it comes. Communicating your feelings is a natural part of healthy relationships and in healthy relationships, happy people voice their concerns and fears as a means to create a safer, more enjoyable relationship. Take notes, write in a journal, discuss your feelings with a trusted person who can listen to you without judgement.
Elevate Your Low Self Esteem
Codependents feel like they can’t do anything on their own, but won’t admit it. They feel that they need the approval of others in order to be successful, yet paradoxically, are ashamed or embarrassed to receive recognition. They feel like they need a lot of love or present themselves as better than others, but feel they are not worthy of such love and admiration because of their past history or mistakes. Codependents feel like their values, goals, and dreams are not important or even possible to achieve.
Realize that you, like like the most successful person you can imagine, are capable of great folly and great deeds. As human beings we are bound to make mistakes and can use the lessons learned as means to achieve our grandest dreams. Just as the most beloved person on the planet, you are worthy of love, compassion, and acceptance and are worthy of forgiveness. Happy people do not accept abuse, tolerate intolerance and hateful language.
Stop Avoiding Growth
Being in a codependent relationship is emotionally and physically exhausting. So is moving past codependency. Many codependents, when given the tools to move past an abusive relationship, avoid making the very changes that will help them grow. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as avoiding difficult conversation, setting boundaries, and working up the courage to deal with an abuser and their destructive thought patterns in behaviors. It’s not unusual for codependents to act out thereby attracting more negative attention, criticism, or abuse.
Codependents will drown their issues and feelings in destructive thoughts, behaviors, and through their addiction to chemicals, substances, sex, or even food. They’ll even suppress their feelings, push away or ignore people who want to help them, use indirect conversation to avoid tough discussion about their issues, and avoid emotional and sexual intimacy.
The theme of avoidance, suppression, and ignorance of dealing with their issues is common amongst codependents. Growing spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally is challenging and difficult and it’s imperative for such growth for codependents to realize that they are spending just as much time, energy, and emotion in perpetuating negative relationships and patterns. Why not transfer that energy into constructive thought and behavioral patterns?
Create An Ideal, Set Goals & Priorities
Codependents have problems getting motivated to set goals and timelines, meet such goals and even complete projects. They have an idea of what they would like out of life, but are afraid to act out of fear of disappointment, failure, and upsetting others. The failure to act is what keeps codependent people immobilized and fearful of the future.
Focus on the ideals by which you’d like to live your life. Perhaps you’d like to live your life in peace, in love, in acceptance, or in celebration of life. Choose the word or words that you want to characterize the life you’d like to live. By imagining the ideal, we can create a world inside our minds to develop the ideal physical life we want to experience. Out of this creative visualization, goals will appear such as making a satisfactory income, traveling, feeling independent and emotionally secure. Once main goals are developed, we can then set up priorities, or stepping stones, that will lead us step by step towards our goals. Sometimes, we’ll upset others or end destructive behaviors, perhaps you’ll need to enlist the help of professionals and experts to help you get and stay motivated, organized and focused,
Break The Cycle of Control
Whether you’re the controlling person or person being controlled, codependent people forget the power in every person to control their destiny and overall happiness. Codependent people feel they are incapable of taking care of themselves or others are dependent upon them; feel they must be needed to feel valuable in a relationship. Some codependent people control others through blame, exploitation, or shame. They can often use their charms, gift giving, and manipulation to get what they want. Sometimes, they’ll even give advice when it’s not warranted or wanted. In some cases, codependents will use extreme behavior such as anger, rage, helplessness, or indifference to get what they want or to wear others down emotionally.
Realize that healthy relationships are possible without lavish gift giving, emotional drama or fighting, and constant involvement in the other’s affairs. Stay committed to saying no to inappropriate language, behavior, and manipulation even in the face of threats. Set emotional and behavioral expectations and boundaries and stick with them, as difficult as it can be to just fold to their desires.
Turn To Resources & Accept Help
Once we realize that help is indeed needed, we must seek out resources and help from organizations and experts who can help positively by guiding us into a pattern of self control, acceptance, and greater awareness. Just as, if not even more, important that turning to help is accepting it. We must trust those who have moved past codependence before us and turn to our greater judgement and awareness of our ideals when navigating through difficult situations and abusive relationships.