How to Stop Being Codependent
Are you "over" repressing your wants, needs, and desires in relationships to make others happy?
Do you feel that you are held hostage by your thoughts and patterns of codependency in relationships?
If this sounds like you, you may be in a codependent relationship where you put the needs of others before yours.
If you are ready to discover how to stop being codependent in your relationships, continue reading!
What is a Codependent Relationship?
To discover how to stop being codependent in your relationships, you first of all need to understand what codependency is and how it has become an established pattern of behavior.
“Codependency can be defined as any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can't function independently anymore...Your mood, happiness, and identify are defined by the other person. In a codependent relationship, there is usually one person who is more passive and can't make decisions for themselves, and a more dominant personality who gets some reward and satisfaction from controlling the other person and making decisions about how they will live.”
Have you noticed you end up in the same relationships (with the same problems) over and over again, regardless of the person?
Do you find that you tend to feel powerless in your relationships and you have no idea how you got there?
The patterns in your relationships were established a long time ago. When you were a child, you observed your caregivers behaving in a way that influenced how you interact and behave in your relationships; this is learned behavior. For example, you may have had a narcissistic father and codependent mother. If this was your childhood, you will have observed the behavior patterns, codependent traits, and how your parents interacted with one another to gain power and control in their relationship. In this example, the father was the person who gained power in the relationship through control, dominance, dictatorship, and demands. In the case of the mother in this example, she will have gained power in the relationship through creating guilt, dimming her light (unable to do things for herself), and getting her partner to do things for her.
As an adult, you will keep attracting situations (and people) into your life so you can keep reenacting our childhood experiences to resolve your parents issues and heal your wounds. To further expand on your childhood experiences, you also developed your own pattern of behavior to gain power from your caregivers to ensure your survival. Maybe you adopted the codependent traits of your mother to gain power?
If you agree with most of the following statements, you may be codependent in relationships. This is about you and your behavior in relationships.
- You doubt your decisions, thoughts, intuition, and points of view.
- You feel powerless in your relationships.
- You do more than your fair share in the relationship and know there's an imbalance.
- You're afraid to speak your truth, say what you believe, stand up for yourself, and feel subservient.
- You don't believe your partner has "your back" and you're afraid they will abandon you.
- You find it difficult to say "no."
- You fear pain, betrayal, disloyalty, and therefore find it difficult to trust.
- You are afraid to step into your power and outwardly challenge your partner.
- You lack boundaries in your relationship.
- You believe that you are "less than" your partner (for example, they're smarter, better looking, etc).
- You don't feel your partner sees or hears, "you."
- You want to "please" your partner and make them happy.
- You believe you are responsible for your partner's happiness (or unhappiness). This is a big burden to carry!
- You fear to take the lead.
- You feel weak and vulnerable.
- You take comments personally.
- You expect to be hurt.
- You're a "peacemaker" and don't want to make a fuss.
- You find it difficult to adjust to change.
- You may have self-sabotaging behaviors where you dumb-down, dim your light, and become small to please your partner and gain their love.
Codependency, and how it impacts you and your relationships is on a sliding scale. For instance, you may be a person who agrees with three or four statements above, which indicates there are "elements" in your personality that is codependent. However, if you identified with the majority of the statements, you will tend to have more codependent behaviors than the person who only agrees with three or four statements.
Codependent No More
As previously mentioned, codependency is a learned behavior, which is good news because it means you can unlearn and change your patterns of behavior. When you know and understand your patterns, you can actively choose (or not choose, whatever the case may be for you) to do something about it.
The above list of codependent behaviors gives an indication of what you may want to work on to move towards a more independent and interdependent relationship.
- Go through the statements in the list above and highlight the ones you agree with.
- From your highlighted list, devise a plan for each one item. For example, if you agree with the statement: "You lack boundaries in your relationship" brainstorm all the ways you lack boundaries. You may want to consider some of the following questions to dig deeper:
- What are your triggers?
- What do you do?
- How do you disrespect yourself?
- What type of boundaries do you currently have in your relationship?
- What does healthy boundaries look like for you?
- If you had healthy boundaries in your relationship, how will you feel?
- What are the benefits for you and your relationship if you had healthy boundaries?
- You may want to research boundaries and why they're important in relationships. Clicking the link "Boundaries" below to discover more.
What do you value in your life?
What is important to you and what do you place importance on?
What gives meaning to your life?
Do you place importance and value on relationships and connections?
Do you value your work, success, and recognition?
Do your values reflect how you live your life?
Are you living up to what you place value on? For instance, if you value time with your children, do you prioritize your time with your children or do you prioritize the demands and requirements made by your boss?
When you are not in alignment with who you are and what you value, for instance, placing greater value on the needs of others over your own, your life becomes unbalanced you're not being congruent. When your life is out of balance, it is easy to lose sight of who you are and succumb to more and more codependent behavior patterns. Before you know it, you're in a full-blown codependent relationship!
- Make a list of your values and what you value in your life.
- Prioritize your list in order of importance.
- Note the values you do not honor.
- Put together an action plan of what you can do (starting today) to honor "all" of your values!
Honor your values and others will value and honor you!
As you can see, there can be many actions and areas you may want to look at and work on so you can really step into your power.
If you are a person who has identified as codependent, you may not know your wants, needs, desires, and aspirations. You've probably lived your life through pleasing others and identifying with their needs.
Now is the time to discover what you want and release patterns and behaviors that no longer serve you.
Transitioning from codependency requires you to go on an inner journey; listen to your heart, your inner wisdom, and intuition where you go beyond your logical mind. You may want to meditate and keep a journal to record your insights. You'll be capturing your true essence to guide you forward on your journey.
To connect with your true essence, wants, needs, and desires so you can move forward, practice meditation and keeping a journal to record your insights.
Codependency Control Patterns
Did you know that people who are codependents have patterns of behavior to control and gain power in relationships so they don't feel "totally powerless"?
Codependents need to be needed by their partner, which makes them feel superior and valued—giving them a sense of power. They have an uncanny ability to do things for their partner without being asked, and as a result, their partner feels indebted and obligated to do things in return, again, having a sense of power.
Another tactic codependents can use is to constantly question, pursue, judge, and criticize their partner to test and see how much they are loved. On the other hand, there is the powerless and helpless tactic to manipulate their partner to gain power and control in the relationship. For instance, you may (or your partner if they're codependent) avoid taking responsibility for doing things for yourself and rely on your partner to meet your needs.
As you can see, even in the pattern of codependency within relationships, you use tactics to compete for and gain power. When you can clearly see your patterns, whether this is a short-term relationship or a codependent marriage, you can make conscious choices to either continue or change them.
You have spent nearly a lifetime hiding who you are from others, even yourself, to avoid conflict. Now is the time to remove your mask, go within, discover your power, and create a vision for your life; how you want your life to look.
Contrary to what you may believe, or have been told, self-care is not selfish and it certainly is not narcissistic. If you want loving relationships and a joyful life, it starts with you!
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Until next time
Relationship and Dating Coach
Coach 2 Connect
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