A guide on how to stop being codependent
You must have heard the proverb “All is fair in love and war,” which John Lyly used in his novel “Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit.”
And dialogue like, “Jab koi Pyar mein Hota hai to koi Sahi galat nahi hota” from the movie Jab We Met.
However, everything is not fair in love, and it can never go together with abuse. So why don’t people stop being codependent?
Abuse in codependency is common but not acceptable. Whether it is humiliation, being angry or demanding, exploiting the vulnerabilities of a partner, or beating.
This research shows that women from 19 to 30 years old suffer from domestic violence because they consider it part of their love bond. Also, 12-80% suffer abuse from their love partners in some countries.
Also, it is not just related to romantic relationships, but any relationship and abuse can also happen on emotional and mental levels.
All of that happens due to codependency. You should know ‘how to stop being codependent’ before it becomes a curse.
First, have a look at what experts say on it.
Ann Smith, the author of the books Grandchildren of Alcoholics and Overcoming Perfectionism, says in an article that seeking comfort from your loved ones in a crisis doesn’t make you codependent.
It is normal unless you make it a habit. It becomes unhealthy when you excessively depend on someone and lose your identity for them.
Examples of codependents in real life-
Have you seen a person who gets ready to do anything just to be added to a cool group or to be friends with them? He is a codependent trying to find himself in others or be like them.
Have you seen a friend of yours who always gets ready to share their lunch, notes, everything with you and is quite attached to you? She is a codependent trying to find a mate and a person to rely on emotionally.
Other examples include a mother pouring her heart and life out to her children. She can do anything for them, and if she doesn’t, she is not a mother anymore.
A daughter trying to meet her father’s expectations to be her proud daughter, but every time feels its “not enough.”
Are you someone who does all the stuff, takes care of everyone, is putting out every effort to keep the relationship alive, losing your sanity to let the other person feel heavenly?
Look around; codependency is hidden behind those everyday things. Well, you ask yourself distantly.
Are these things suffocating in reading itself? Codependency consists of the things mentioned above and more.
Reasons for being codependent?
- No or lack of self-esteem
- Fear of being lonely
- No trust in yourself
- Need for being loved
- Lack of purpose
Whatever the reasons are, it all comes down to one thing: parenting or childhood experiences.
You are what you have seen or been taught as a child by your parents, friends, or people. It is ingrained in your being.
As a child, you were taught to follow a strict code of conduct about what people will think of seeing you doing silly things. That made you conscious and began to control other people’s opinions about you at the cost of losing your authentic self.
As a child, you had been told that you are not capable enough to make decisions or make choices about your life, and those things follow you until now.
You still think someone else should be making decisions on your behalf.
Your childhood traumas haunt you until now, and you became codependent.
You can’t spend your entire life like that if you have to live.
So the question comes, “How to stop being codependent?”
You might want to include each of the following steps in your lifestyle, but that is quite impossible at first.
So start by taking baby steps and change your life with these steps that follow:
1. Wear the lens of awareness to stop being codependent:
To cure a disease (in this case, we are looking at codependency as a disease), going to the root of the problem is necessary.
How do you identify codependent behaviour?
Well, how about a story? Or a Bollywood story?
The finest example of codependent behaviour is the character of Preeti in the movie Kabir Singh.
Preeti did end up being her abuser’s girl instead of establishing her own identity. She went against her family but forgave her boyfriend and vowed to remain in a relationship despite his seemingly violent behaviour.
You can find numerous examples around you of codependent people having these specific traits:
- They unapologetically serve as people pleasers. They can do everything to be in the good books of their loved ones.
- They take others’ needs as primary and theirs secondary, if any.
- They believe helping each being is their duty and feel guilty if they fail to do so.
- They take over a whole different personality to resist conflict.
- They are a problem solver – literally for everyone connected to them, like a superhero.
- They feel they are not worthy of making their decisions.
- They fear making mistakes for fear of rejection.
Do you have any of these traits in yourself? If yes, you might want to change.
The main thing that stands out from the above points is self. Your self matters, and your priority should be you. Change gradually if it bothers you to shift the entire focus to you.
Accept that you have needs, and those are essential too. Being aware of your needs and the signs that lead to codependency can get you on the liberation path of caring for yourself.
Quick Tip: Codependency can be cured by being aware of it and taking help accordingly.
2. Understand the importance of ‘me-time’:
Codependency can get you caring more than enough about others and cornering your needs and wants, thinking them to be shameful and illegitimate.
However, how come you can comfort others when your spirit is not comforted? You are not at peace, and it is possible you would indirectly take out your frustration on others because you don’t want to be seen as selfish.
Here comes the role of #me-time. Enough has been said about having me time for yourself.
This article by Linda Wasmer Andrews has many reasons to have ‘me-time.’
It states that women feel more burnout than their partners in the absence of required free time, and that’s why they fall prey to various diseases in the United States.
Having time for yourself makes you balanced and prevents diseases like sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and heart problems.
Also, giving time to yourself creates a balance in your life so that you will not be doing everything for everyone but yourself.
That is going to make your relationships healthy.
Quick Tip: Others only care for you when you care for yourself.
3. Toss a no occasionally towards others:
A common yet overwhelming sign of codependent is they give a green signal to every being.
Can you arrange this meeting for me? Yes!
Can you make a cup of coffee for me? Yes!
Can you do engineering because it’s my dream? YES!
You get the idea. It seems like no has no place in a codependent’s dictionary.
Being a human, that’s not always possible if you wish to live for long. As saying yes means living for others, and no means living for yourself.
You should make this habit of saying no occasionally, if not always, without the added guilt.
You are not going to be hanged, trust me. Plus, it’ll increase your living days on earth by saving you from unnecessary burdens.
Quick Tip: Being polite while saying no can make you less offensive and reveal you are committed to your work too.
4. Break-up with Guilt :
As a codependent person, you might have an unshakeable bond with guilt. That means guilt follows you everywhere whether you do something for someone or don’t do it.
It is always going to be “your fault.” After all, you are in the seat of a codependent.
Or you might take charge of wrongdoing because you think you are responsible for every tiny thing happening.
Mostly, wives, mothers, and women are blamed for not upholding society’s standards, for choosing different from the norm, for standing up for themselves.
As a wife, mother, or woman, you feel guilt and shame to raise your opinions or express your desires as an individual.
But you are not alone responsible for every norm set by society, and it is your choice not to follow what does not align with your values.
You must know that you CAN make mistakes without feeling guilty to stop this vicious cycle.
I understand it is quite challenging to let go of the guilt and anxiety that follows it, but you can overcome it with time and the help of counselling and people’s support.
Quick Tip: Making and owning up to your mistakes makes you attractive.
5. Be in a relationship with yourself first:
A codependent person in an unhealthy relationship tends to be on the receiving end.
You feel you should be ready 24×7 whenever your partner or someone close to you calls you out.
And if you are in a relationship with a narcissist (which codependents choose primarily due to the need of being fulfilled), your life sucks.
The narcissist lacks empathy and their only purpose to be in a relationship is to be superior to their partner, and the other should comply.
If you fail to do so, either you will get divorced or be sent to hell. Well, that works for extreme cases only.
However, you will be in the jail you have created in your mind. As you put on a mask to be perfect, being codependent, you will lose your masked identity or at least risk it.
That will not do anything but leave you out in fear and guilt only.
What you should do is obvious. Think of your needs; make yourself a priority if others do not. At least reserve some time for yourself because that will help you only.
What about the fear of losing a relationship?
When you start to assert yourself, others will understand, which will make you satisfied. Happiness, stability, and balance are what you want in a relationship, don’t you?
Quick Tip: Do not form your world around only one person, be in touch with other friends and family members to get their back in need.
Suggested: Best Books on Codependency
6. Express yourself more:
To stop being codependent, you must not be excessively dependent on others. That takes you to the point of being independent, at least to a certain level.
Independence doesn’t only mean on a physical level but emotionally as well. As you have difficulty figuring out and expressing your emotions to others in a codependent relationship, it is time for soul searching. You should learn to express yourself.
How do you feel when you offer extra care to someone?
Do you think your needs are being met?
What are your needs and wants?
What are your expectations from the relationship? Are they too much or less?
Spend some time alone and reflect on everything related. Do you find any pattern?
After reflecting, you will see how your life is going. You will be able to change the problematic things within your relationships and emerge out as an individual who can respect their needs along with others.
When you become confident about asserting your feelings, your relationship will grow because it takes two to make a healthy balance.
Quick Tip: Keep a journal or take a course to be more active in your life.
7. Be extra kind to yourself, please:
The codependent tag comes with another one that is people pleaser. A proud term from a codependent because you think pleasing people is an excellent habit to have.
While pleasing people, you become extra friendly and kind to them, but only to get validation from them.
Can’t you do the same for yourself to get validation from just you?
Codependent people think they are valuable individuals only when others confirm or praise them, so they do anything that brings external validation. Still, they feel offended when their expectations don’t get fulfilled.
People-pleasing will not get you anywhere if you are forced to change yourself only to win others’ approval.
Instead, you can be kind to yourself by doing things that make you happy and satisfied. You need to understand that you are worthy as you are, not otherwise.
Quick Tip: Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and allow yourself and others to make mistakes.
8. Lose control to stop being codependent:
The irony in the codependent relationship is that the person tries to control everything, from opinions to behaviour to people, but remains in control of others.
You, being codependent, behave like a perfectionist, although you hate it at the same time.
That way, you live a fake life by being someone else to form a positive image in others’ eyes.
You want to change the other person, but you are the one who needs to be changed.
The belief that you can control everything turns out misleading because that is not you.
You feel the moment you screw up something, and you would lose your relationship.
So to end this pattern of codependency, neither you need to prove your value nor do everything right.
You need to be YOU.
Those who truly love you would still love you.
You have a purpose in your life, find and fulfill that. Do what you are meant to do, not what others expect you to do.
Quick Tip: No one is a perfectionist, so you don’t have to be one.
The question ‘How to stop being codependent’ has its answers within you. Search your soul as you do with Google.
Codependency takes shape in a relationship, and the same is meant to give you love, comfort, and fulfillment. If it does not serve its purpose, you should better leave such bonds.
If doing, sharing, caring, and related things make you genuinely happy and fulfilled, do them.
If you feel suffocated and lose your sense of purpose and identity, that is a red signal of codependency. You know how to deal with that now.
It is ok to be dependent on your parents, friends, partners, or children with an awareness of your boundaries. Be with your closed ones when they need you, but do not try to take all their problems on you.
Codependency is hideous, and awareness is the need of the hour. Form interdependent relationships where everyone’s needs get fulfilled.
People think codependent relationships are the most romantic ones.
They think losing your identity in love makes it real love. But is it really?
Now, you know the answer, don’t you?
What are your thoughts on this article? Please do share in the comments. We would love you hear from you.