Five Tools to Work on Codependency

Please note: I have no education on the subject of codependency, I’ve simply been in a number of doozies throughout my life.  The purpose of this piece is to help aid in healing a relationship that has become codependent. Since codependency and addiction are frequently intertwined this seemed like a good piece.  This piece was written as a followup to Five Tips to Help an Addict. Which is available as my free gift for signing up to the OD Apparel monthly State of the Movement.

What does codependency look like?

People often believe (I know I did) that love for someone is best displayed as blindly satisfying their needs and desires. This can take many forms, for example, a parent satisfying a child’s need for food and shelter, a significant other giving their mate a couple pills for a bum back or anxiety, or with friends buying a few pills from each other.

Why do some people gravitate towards codependency?

Codependency is a learned behavior (Monkey see, Monkey do) here’s what that really means.  If one of your parents had trouble with boundaries, poor communication skills, or was constantly the scapegoat (or if you were constantly the scapegoat of the family) there’s a good chance you’re at risk of developing codependent relationships.  It’s also very common among children of broken homes or who feel as though they had emotionally unavailable parents. We create a belief system that if the other party of the relationship would simply see how hard we’re loving they will be motivated to change.

How to repair a codependent relationship?pexels-photo-1122868

Work on you:  The number one problem with codependent relationships is a focus on the other person in the relationship.  It’s a trap! Always remember these two truths: you cannot change anyone but yourself, and you can’t contribute to a healthy relationship until you can stand on your own.  Focus on you.

Take a Break: What makes this so hard is that codependent relationships are addictive.  The best way to repair a codependent relationship is to separate yourself from the situation.  Step back and take a deep breath! Remember, nothing is ever as bad (or as good) as it seems. Remove yourself and seek to maintain balance.

Establish Boundaries:  In my experience, this is the core reasoning behind why someone might tell you, “if you love something let it go.” Blurred lines and codependent relationships seem to go hand in hand.  Boundaries are the building blocks to healthy relationships. After a break, it can be a great benefit to sit down with the parties in the relationships you would like to grow and write down a clear set of boundaries.

Don’t take it so personally:  For me, there seemed to be a tendency to be oversensitive when stuck in a codependent relationship.  We take the rejection of another as a personal attack and can’t understand why they don’t like you. I’ve found the best way to help from falling into this trap is simply ask yourself, what impact are these thoughts having on my wellbeing?  Keep it simple, is this impact positive or negative. If the answer is negative, what can you do about what is causing this feeling? If the answer is out of your control then allow yourself to feel closure in that it’s not in your hands.

End negative thought patterns: In my experience, codependent relationships tend to breed obsessive thought patterns.  This commonly takes the form of flawed reasoning, the way I’ll be able to get my girlfriend back is by showing her how much I love her.  That will convince her to change her current response. No Bueno, I assure you this line of thinking will lead to misery.

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