It’s not always easy to recognize codependency within ourselves. It’s amazing what we can convince ourselves of when it comes to how we think we deserve to be treated, and what we consider to be normal if we were never told otherwise. Codependency is something that comes in all shapes and sizes. There are a handful of scenarios where codependency can take place within relationships. With that said, I find it to be important to define what codependency is, and when it’s most likely to occur.
Codependency typically occurs when two people with dysfunctional personality disorders come together, and unite in some way. Codependency is the result of unhealthy boundary forming between two people who are not helping each other get better. A classic “model” of the codependent relationship includes a person with a substance use disorder and someone who is an enabler.
How Do I Know If I Am Codependent?
Well, first you must be willing to get honest with yourself, and truthfully answer some questions:
- Do you put others’ happiness before your own?
- Do you attempt to gain control in other areas of your life outside of your challenging relationship? For example, this could include self-harm behaviors like an eating disorder, or other toxic behaviors that make you feel in control of yourself.
- Do you find yourself always attracting those who need ‘fixing’?
- Do you ever spend time doing the things that make you happy, or do you direct most of your energy toward doing what someone else likes to do?
- Do you let someone else’s opinion of you hold more weight than it should?
- Do you often justify the actions of someone else, or defend their bad habits?
The list of questions could keep going, but if you said “yes” to at least three of the above, then you may need to address codependency in your own life. I want to provide you with five ways that have helped me when becoming independent of my codependent relationship(s).
What Can I Do to Free Myself From Those Who Are Toxic to Me?
I am glad you asked. Before we move forward, I want to make it known that there are so many solutions to defeating codependency. Treat this as a good starting point, but do NOT be afraid to do more research on this topic. How you see yourself, and the quality of your relationships is always important to work on — for you. Your happiness should be your first priority, and just by coming this far and seeking more information, you are already proving to want to move in the right direction. Try to incorporate the 5 actions below into your life, your thoughts and your actions.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Say “NO”
For those of us that have been in any kind of codependent situation, we know all too well how much of a struggle saying the word “no” can be. We should never fear the reaction of someone else when we do not want to partake in something or sacrifice something to please someone else. You are allowed to say “no” if what you are being asked to do does not benefit you in any way. You were not put on this earth to cater to everyone else’s needs but your own. Practice saying “no” more and more, and remember that you are able to demand a certain level of respect as well.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
This is always so much easier said than done, especially when a codependent relationship has gone on for an extended amount of time. The longer we struggle to recognize the bad behavior in the first place, the longer it typically takes us to realize we have been treated unfairly or are treating ourselves unfairly by putting someone else first. Putting your foot down, and standing up for yourself is a really tough move to make, but it is because of a move like this that you will be able to heal that much quicker.
3. Practice the Art of Letting Go
I use the term “art” because I think that it takes a certain amount of skill to be able to let go, especially in regards to codependent relationships. It’s no easy feat to let go of what you have known for so long, and sometimes, what you have known since birth. This is also why I used the term “practice.” The only way to get better at something is to keep doing it, and being patient with the results. There is so much more to healing from codependency than just trying out these 5 ways. It requires work on a daily basis to keep getting better, but it is work worth doing.
4. Give Yourself the Love You Have Always Deserved
Read that again: Give yourself the love you have ALWAYS deserved. This one, at least for me, has always proven to be the hardest concept for me to grasp. Why? Well, because I have always determined my ability to be loved by the amount of love that others are willing to give me. I always thought to be loved, you must give yourself away as much as you can, and although there are ways to do this in a healthy manner, unhealthy habits were what I developed instead.
When you realize that you are able to love yourself — and I mean truly love yourself — your whole life can and will change. 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, and this is what I hope for you.
5. Rebuild the Foundation You Stand On
What is it that you love doing that fills you with joy and happiness? Do more of that. Do not be afraid to start over and go back to square one. By rebuilding the foundation you stand on, and what it is you want for this new, independent you, you can start over and do it well. What better way to work out the kinks than by redefining yourself and truly figuring out what makes you happy? Freeing yourself of codependency starts and ends with you, so why not start with a fresh slate? Nobody ever regrets discovering their true selves. So, go ahead — be selfish. Demand respect. Set high standards. Build a foundation for yourself that will never make you question who you are ever again.
Healing is always possible, and we must remember that we can take back our lives at any one point in time. It will be hard, yes. It will be a long road to travel, yes. But it will be worth it, and you deserve to know that you can become independent of codependency.