Relationships are one of the main things that bring joy to our life, be they of a romantic nature, or strictly focussed on friendship and respect. Unfortunately, relationships are also one of the biggest challenges that we have to face. As human beings, it is easy for us to become attached to another person.
Once we do, there is that danger that we all face, the danger of becoming codependent. Of feeling like we cannot live without the other person, that we can only feel complete if we have their validation. Since this makes personal growth almost impossible, we thought we would look at some of the warning signs that you are in a codependent relationship. Furthermore, we are going to learn how to stop being codependent and surround ourselves with healthy relationships.
Signs That You Are in a Codependent Relationship
1. You Feel Like You Cannot Live Without the Other Person
As much as popular culture is trying to convince us that this is a romantic thing, it is actually something that can be quite dangerous to us and our personal development. We should never allow our lives to depend on someone other than ourselves. You are not incomplete without someone by yourself. The other person is just an added bonus to your already fulfilled and successful life.
2. You Take Care of the Other Person Too Much
We’re not saying you shouldn’t take care of the people you love and feel connected to. However, if in your relationship, you are the person who takes care and the other person is always in need of something from you, this is a clear sign of a codependent relationship.
3. You Feel the Need to Control the Relationship
If you constantly have to control every single step the other person takes because you fear that you might lose them otherwise, you are clearly codependent. You should trust that your partner or friend is able to make his or her own decisions and that they will be in the best interests of both of you.
4. You Completely Forget About Yourself
When you are focusing too much on another person, you tend to forget that you should also take care of yourself. You should be fulfilled personally. If you don’t nurture yourself, you won’t have anything to give to the other person either, expect anger and resentment.
5. You Expect the Other Person to Save You
You are the hero of your story and you should never allow someone else to take your place. Learn to take care of yourself and overcome difficult situations without expecting the other person to bravely rescue you. You are as capable as anyone else. You should remind yourself of that when you feel like you are in a codependent relationship.
How to Stop Being Codependent – 6 Tips
1. Take Care of Yourself
This may sound like an obvious advice, but it is actually one of the most important things you should know when you want to learn how to stop being codependent. It is also something that most people in this situation find really hard to do. If you want to stop codependency, you have to learn how to shift the focus from the other person to yourself. One way in which you can attempt that is by doing something that you always wanted to do. Try taking a drawing class or attending culinary school for instance. Focus on your personal development and on things that make you feel good.
2. Understand That You Can’t Save Everybody
Some people who are in a codependent relationship feel the need to save the other person. And they continue to do so even when they don’t want to be saved. Even when there’s no more hope for realistic change. You have to learn how to stop being codependent by allowing people to go. Set them free when you know there’s nothing else left to do. Giving up on somebody that only causes you harm does not make you a bad person.
3. Build Your Self-Esteem
Oftentimes, we are codependent because we have low self-esteem. Being with the other person can make us feel better about ourselves, makes us feel loved and wanted. However, you should learn how to build self-esteem through techniques that only involve you and not another person. Because it is ultimately about you and your ability to feel good about yourself without needing someone else’s approval.
4. Learn to Say No
Learning how to stop being codependent also involves learning how to say no to people. This is precisely because codependency is all about people pleasing. Imagine the amount of energy you consume every day and the amount of stress that you put yourself through just to help other people. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t do that. However, you should learn how to prioritize and be able to say “no, I’m sorry, I can’t help you” when you feel you cannot take on one more task.
5. Trust Your Gut Feeling
People who find themselves in codependent relationships often rely too much on their partner’s opinions and beliefs. Sometimes, they even decide to ignore their gut feeling. If you want to learn how to stop being codependent, one thing you could do is pay more attention to what your gut is telling you. This might be particularly hard when the other person tries to invalidate your feelings and make you feel bad about the decisions you make. Even if this is the case, remind everybody that you are just as capable as they are to have an opinion and make a decision.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
Sometimes, we might need help (be it professional or not) to learn how to stop being codependent. That is nothing to be ashamed about, and the decision to actively seek help is actually an important step in the right direction. You can choose to ask friends or family members who you know would understand your problem to provide you with some advice or help you overcome this difficult time in your life. We guarantee that there are many more people out there willing to help you than you think.
If you feel like you need professional help, you can always try therapy and rehabilitation, especially if your codependency issue also involves physical or emotional abuse, alcohol consumption, or drug use. Do not allow yourself to continue in such a situation a moment longer.
Summing It All Up
Even though many people might not see the process of overcoming codependency as a real issue, it actually is, and it can have both short-term and long-term effects, equally as damaging. Remember, if you feel like you cannot live without the other person, find yourself constantly trying to take care of them and controlling their every move, or you forget about yourself, you are definitely in a codependent relationship. If you want to learn how to stop being codependent, focus on taking care of yourself and building your self-esteem, trust your gut feelings, learn to say no, and accept that you can’t save everyone. If nothing else works, seeking advice might help you get out of this toxic situation.