HOW DO YOU MOVE PAST CODEPENDENCY?
A person with a healthy level of self-esteem would escape a codependent situation at the first sign of being mistreated. Whether it is with a family member, a child, a friend, a coworker, an acquaintance, or anyone else you come across in your life…advocating for yourself is key to changing the unhealthy patterns you’ve developed, so you can begin to implement new, healthier, ones. For a codependent person, this is FAR easier said than done.
1. EXPLORE YOUR IDENTITY
A codependent person rarely has a strong sense of identity. In many cases, their whole sense of identity and self-esteem comes from their relationship with external sources such as a loved one, spouse, friend, coworker, etc.
Reflect: What is most unique about you?
2. WORK ON YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
The previous task won’t be easy if you’re struggling with low self-esteem, as most people in codependent relationships are. Ultimately, it’s a lack of self-love which keeps people in codependent relationships where they’re mistreated. Working on changing what you tolerate from others and when to advocate for YOUR wellbeing, is key to changing codependent patterns.
Reflect: When is the last time (in-person) you told someone they hurt your feelings?
3. SET BOUNDARIES FOR HOW PEOPLE TREAT YOU
If people break these boundaries, tell them that you won’t accept being treated that way. If those same people continue to push your boundaries, consider the changes YOU need to make in order to keep your healthy boundaries intact.
Codependent people often struggle with setting boundaries, because they believe on some level they deserve to be mistreated. For some, it is easier to tolerate poor behavior because it keeps the status quo. Some would rather accept mistreatment in dysfunctional relationships for fear of being abandoned, worrying about the uncomfortable conversations that are needed to change behaviors.
Reflect: What holds you back from enforcing your boundaries?
4. ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED
Codependent people are so focused on serving others that they never consider their own needs. They certainly aren’t great at asking others for what they need. It’s not that your needs should be more important than those of other human beings. It's important to remember that your needs are, at minimum, just as important as the needs of others.
When your needs aren’t met, you end up feeling depleted, resentful and unfulfilled. Also, it puts you in a worse position to serve others in a meaningful way. Try to get in the habit of asking for what you need without shame.
Reflect: When was the last time you asked someone for help?
5. COMMUNICATE ASSERTIVELY
When you’re a people-pleaser, as most codependent people can be, you tend to ask for what you want in a passive or apologetic way. You cannot change codependent habits by operating from a place of shame or guilt.
Sharpen up those communication skills and get in the habit of assertive communication.
Reflect: Do you find yourself beginning sentences with, “I hate to bother you…”, “I will make this quick…”, “Sorry to bug you…”, etc.?
6. LEARN TO SAY NO
This is something else that people-pleasers struggle with. You need to learn that there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘no’. And not only is there NOT a problem with it, for most part, there are very few people that deserve an explanation from you about why you have said no.
Try to get in the habit of only offering explanations in situations that warrant it.
Reflect: When was the last time you said, “No.” and did not give an explanation?
7. TREAT YOURSELF WITH KINDNESS
It’s a broad statement, which could entail eliminating negative self-talk, indulging in self-care and forgiving yourself for making mistakes. It also means giving yourself some darn grace when you aren’t “perfect!”
Reflect: Are you hard on yourself when you think you’ve messed up?
8. TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME ME-TIME
Giving yourself some alone time for self-care. Read a good book. Soak in the bath. Enjoy one of your favorite hobbies. Give yourself a break from serving others. Replenish your energy.
A person suffering from codependency needs to learn to enjoy being alone, and the best way to do that is to create more alone time for themselves.
Reflect: What have you done this week for self-care?
9. EXPRESS YOURSELF
Repressing your emotions rarely does anyone any good. Become comfortable with expressing your feelings rather than keeping them bottled up.
Reflect: What holds you back from expressing your true feelings about a situation?
10. REALIZE WHAT YOU DESERVE
Codependent people struggle to believe they’re worthy of love or attention. Which often leads them to tolerate behaviors from selfish attention-seekers who continually mistreat them.
Whether it be a spouse, partner, child, coworker, or friend…YOU set the standard for how YOU deserve to be treated by them.
Reflect: How do you think others perceive your standards when it comes to behavior you’re willing to tolerate?