It is a natural human function to gravitate to one another, as human beings are extremely social and emotional. As humans get more comfortable with one another, relationships form, many of which are deep and long-lasting (e.g. a lifelong best friend, a spouse, a parent, etc.). But when a relationship is unhealthy, it can be more destructive than beneficial. In instances where one relationship enables destructive behaviors but relies on the other person, it’s important to know how to overcome codependency.
Chances are you have had an unhealthy relationship at least once in your life. Unhealthy relationships can occur when people have trouble communicating, get angry easily, are untrustworthy, or engage in behaviors that are careless, to give a few examples. Some unhealthy relationships even include abusive elements including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. But one factor that often plays a role in countless unhealthy relationships is codependency.
Codependency is defined as excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. People who are codependent have significant difficulty doing much of anything without the involvement or approval of the person they are codependent on. Codependency is common in all types of relationships, including those relationships where addiction is present.
The Link Between Codependency and Addiction
In a codependent relationship where one person is struggling with addiction, codependency can run rampant. For example, a wife may find herself doing things such as apologizing for her husband’s behavior while under the influence, rationalizing his excessive use, letting him use her medications, etc. all to keep from rocking the boat.
When codependent on a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is common for a person to lose their own sense of independence as they are reliant on the wellbeing of their partner. Operating in ways that keep things as even keel as possible can mean sacrificing one’s own health and happiness.
Signs of Codependency
Someone who is codependent on someone else is likely not going to see the severity of their codependence. Many times it is hard for someone to accept their codependency because to them, it means that they will run the risk of losing a loved one, be rejected, or have their whole world fall apart. But, knowing the signs is critical in helping to overcome codependency.
Some of the most common signs of codependency include the following:
- Poor self-esteem
- Trouble expressing emotions
- Poor boundaries
- Having a need for control, including control over others
- Focusing on mistakes
- Ignoring one’s own needs
- Fear of abandonment
Living with codependency problems can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Even if you know that you are codependent on someone, you still might have difficulty ending your behaviors. Thankfully, it is possible to overcome codependency.
Strategies to Overcome Codependency
Codependency is something that takes a great deal of effort to overcome. When codependency is deeply rooted or has been occurring for a long period of time, it can be more difficult to change those behaviors. However, no matter the severity of your codependency, it is possible to overcome it.
Spend Time Apart
One of the first ways to overcome codependency is to spend some time apart from one another. You can go slow at the start if it helps make it more manageable. For example, consider doing something that you often do with your partner by yourself. Or, make plans with friends or even go and run errands alone to get that space. If you make spending time apart from a priority, you will begin feeling more independent, helping to combat codependency.
Don’t Personalize Everything
One of the main components of codependency is taking everything your partner does personally. When you do this, you create space for constant negative self-talk which only increases your impulse to be codependent. In order to overcome codependency, you must identify the things that your partner says or does that you take personally. Be honest with yourself when sorting through which things should be taken personally and which things shouldn’t. Chances are you will find that many of the things that you take personally are not personal at all. Accept that your reactions are tied to your codependency, not reality. Strive to flush out what applies to you and what does not.
Boundaries are designed to promote healthy living, not to keep people, places, and things away from you. Consider what your personal boundaries are. What actions, behaviors, words, etc. cause you discomfort? What are some things that occur in your relationship that you wish didn’t occur? See what you can apply a boundary to. If you experience anxiety when your partner doesn’t call you back right away, set a boundary for yourself. Instead of panicking, find something to occupy your time until you hear back from your partner. Do not allow yourself to spiral out of control in your thinking, rather set the boundary that you will not tolerate your own anxious behavior, so instead, you will do something productive. Setting boundaries is perhaps one of the most important steps to overcome codependency.
Being codependent on someone else leaves little (if any) time for you to take care of you. To treat codependency, consider carving out time for yourself every day to do something that makes you feel good. This can include exercising, eating well, finding time to relax in a bath, etc. You can also have time in the day where you meditate, do yoga, or engage in any other spiritual activity. Self-care is all about doing things that improve your entire wellbeing. If you place your focus on self-care, you can slowly break free from codependency.
In addition to these strategies, it can also be extremely beneficial to seek professional help, such as a therapist or other mental health specialist. Sometimes, it takes a handful of positive changes to break the cycle of codependency, but other times, more help is needed. Seeing a therapist can help a person struggling with codependency to better understand the origins of their codependent behavior, as well as develop personalized ways to change that behavior.
Get Help Overcoming Codependency Today
If someone you love is addicted to drugs and alcohol and you have found yourself in a codependent relationship with them, reach out to us today. Not only can we help address your partner’s substance abuse treatment needs but can also help provide you with the type of care that can treat codependency.
Do not wait any longer. It is time to claim your life back. Call us right now to get started on a better you.