10 Minutes

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Despite its widespread negative effects on life, codependency remains one of the most undermined and underrated issues of today. A person with codependent traits commonly experiences a need to feel depended on to feel loved. While this problem typically exists in romantic relationships, it can also involve other people, such as parents, children, siblings, and friends. Regardless of the nature, a codependent relationship is always imbalanced where one person’s needs often go unmet to meet the needs of the others. As a result, this imbalance often perpetuates cycles of challenging behaviors that quickly start damaging different aspects of life.

illustration of a codependent man

Codependency can be extremely difficult to recognize and commonly requires professional help and treatment. Fortunately, there are multiple potentially effective codependency treatment options available to help struggling individuals overcome their codependent patterns and restore balance to their relationships.

Codependency Inpatient Treatment

While there are many types of treatment plans and rehabilitation programs for beating codependency, most of them follow a four-step approach, also called the four A’s. These include the following:

abstinence

Abstinence

awareness

Awareness

acceptance

Acceptance

action

Action

Abstinence

Abstinence is the first “A” which involves taking steps to abstain from practicing codependent behaviors. Some examples of establishing this include taking out time for yourself, reinvigorating interest in hobbies, and setting boundaries.

Awareness

This step encourages individuals to acknowledge codependency as a problem for which it is imperative to seek help. Awareness also includes noticing the times when you are most likely to engage in codependent behaviors, such as overexerting yourself for another person.

Acceptance

Just like any mental health condition to addiction, coming to terms with codependency, accepting it, and recovering from it is a lifelong journey that requires therapy, self-help, and self-care.

Action

Once an individual accepts their condition and are aware of their behaviors, the next step is to take action to change these traits. Working with a therapist and seeking professional codependency treatment aids this process and helps achieve recovery more easily.

There are several tips and strategies that you can incorporate in your daily life to overcome the common barriers in your relationship and beat the codependent patterns. These include the following:

Familiarize yourself with yourself and your needs

Take out some time to think about who you really are and what makes you happy. Talk to yourself and make a list of all things you truly. As you make each entry into the list, consider double checking if you are speaking for yourself or if your ideas and choices are of others and not your own. This task may take some time but, in the end, you will have a personalized list of things that define your happiness without a bias and can help you live a much happier life without any external influence.

Challenge your assumptions and beliefs

Be willing to observe your patterns of thought and challenge them wherever you can. Take out some time to reflect on how you really think, wish, or feel to respond to others along with yourself. This process of reevaluation of thoughts and feelings can help you find your voice.

Become more assertive

Assertiveness is a powerful tool that helps people become more boosting while improving their self-esteem, confidence, and self-care. It is a skill that you can easily practice, such as by clearly communicating what your needs are and learning how to say no, to become a person with your own opinions and voice.

Be kind to yourself

For most codependent individuals, self-kindness is something easier said than done. In a rat race to keep their partners happy, such people often neglect their needs and desires and rarely get time to practice kindness to themselves. However, to break this toxic cycle of codependency, it is imperative to take some time out and truly acknowledge your feelings and comfort yourself instead of punishing. Learn to live with your own internal compass and remind yourself that your path matters because it was your deliberate choice.

Read up more about your codependency

Recovering from a codependent relationship requires being honest with yourself and raising self-awareness. Before you can learn how to get away from your bad habits, you must be able to pinpoint these habits and understand more about where they are stemming from. So invest time in exploring codependency and what it looks like in your case. For example, some common examples of codependency include:

woman recovering from codependency
  • Feeling responsible for how others feel
  • Facing difficulty in communicating your thoughts
  • Not trusting your judgment
  • Poor decision-making due to the fear of how your choices may impact someone else
  • Fear of rejection and abandonment
  • Struggling to identify and communicate your needs

As you continue to identify these traits, keep practicing self-compassion and reassure yourself that this codependency does not get to define you. Many people may blame themselves as they continue exploring their codependent behaviors but remember that you need to treat yourself with the same level of kindness as you would extend to others.

Manage your own needs

For codependent people, seeing others as an extension of themselves and failing to prioritize themselves are common and can be extremely dangerous for their mental health. Try reflecting on your emotional and physical needs and exploring how you feel when they are unmet. This process can be uncomfortable as it may not be in tune with your feelings. However, by working through these painful feelings, you will learn more about yourself and establish a stronger sense of self. Once you are past this phase, start meeting your basic physical needs, such as focusing on healthy eating, daily exercising, and maintaining a good sleep pattern. From here, gradually move on to more difficult inner work, such as determining your values in a relationship and exploring how people around you make you feel.

Set boundaries

Understanding and setting boundaries with others can be particularly difficult, especially if you do not trust yourself or share the burden of responsibility for keeping others happy. However, once you have successfully identified and pinpointed your codependent traits, it becomes much easier to remind yourself why it is crucial to prioritize your needs. Boundaries are essential in all healthy relationships, and you must never feel selfish or guilty about setting them. Be respectful of other’s needs and keep validating their feelings while being clear about your expectations. Try to be as simple as you can as you explain yourself to others, as this may help them easily understand why you are setting the boundaries.

Following are some beginning steps to set boundaries in a codependent relationship:

  • Remind yourself that having preferences and needs that differ from someone else is entirely okay
  • Establish a specific limit on others’ behaviors
  • Set personal emotions instead of what you “should” feel
  • Respect the boundaries of those around you
  • Identify and pursue your own needs instead of the needs of others

When you gradually learn how to set and follow boundaries, the codependent person will likely learn how to maintain a healthier relationship.

Seek therapy

While the tips mentioned above can certainly help people with codependency traits feel better about themselves and unlearn some of these behaviors, seeking therapy can also make a huge difference. Psychological talking therapies in different settings, such as individual, group, and couple contexts, can help people overcome the challenges associated with codependency. If substance abuse is present in one or both partners, attention must be paid to addressing it as a contributing factor during therapy.

Different types of therapy are available to help people with codependency build healthier relationships and manage any associated mental health issues. Some of these types include the following:

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy provides all couples in codependent relationships a forum where they can identify and explore all unhealthy issues and imbalanced dynamics and overcome them under the guidelines of a professional therapist.

Assertiveness & Communication Skills Training

Many people who are in codependent relationships struggle to assert their needs. Such people can attend assertive and communication skills training to help communicate their needs and assert them to their partner for peace of mind.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Because codependency is a learned behavior, it can be helpful to explore a patient’s past experiences and any underlying causes behind them through psychodynamic therapy. Once identified, individuals can continue to address these causes and overcome them with professional help.

Interpersonal Therapy

As a highly-structured and time-limited approach, interpersonal therapy helps individuals resolve their interpersonal problems while gradually moving toward symptomatic recovery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people identify and change their negative codependent patterns of beliefs and thoughts to make them healthier. This type of therapy aims to teach codependent individuals how to identify their problems and separate them from the needs and wants of their partners.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can help sort the unhealthy and dysfunctional interaction patterns between different people in a codependent relationship while teaching them healthier ways of interacting. This type of therapy can also decrease the impact of codependency on children, parents, and other extended family members.

Group Therapy

Group therapy brings different people with similar issues together and share their experiences. Such platforms allow people to develop support groups, learn important points from others’ examples, and seek advice regarding their issues from others who have been in their shoes.

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