Am I codependent and, if so, how to stop being codependent? What does it even really mean?
If you have excessive psychological or emotional reliance on your partner, you may be codependent. This often happens when people need support because of a certain illness or addiction.
Your partner might be okay with your need for support, but you can have a healthier relationship.
Sometimes, we aren’t able to really be independent because we forget to focus on ourselves. And by being overly dependent on someone else, we forget our own identity and how to properly take care of ourselves.
Codependency isn’t only found in romantic relationships. It can be noticeable in other relationships you have with people.
Often, an unsupportive or unstable environment will cause codependency. And more times than not, you’ll find it stemmed from early childhood.
If you were neglected, suffered trauma, or weren’t nurtured enough, you might become codependent. Children tend to think that they’re the problem when there are issues in the family.
Did you live in an unpredictable and chaotic household? Were your siblings and parents unsupportive?
Or maybe you even experienced abuse or other scary scenarios. You might have been neglected or subject to manipulative behavior.
Were your parents’ punishments too harsh? Did they shame you or deny that problems existed?
Maybe they refused any outside help or had many secrets. Or they were very judgmental and expected perfection in everything.
When these things happen in a person’s childhood, they often end up showing codependent behavior as adults.
Before you ask how to stop being codependent, how can you know for sure you are in the first place?
Are you codependent?
Take some time to answer the following questions.
1. Are you the caretaker?
Those who take on the role of a caretaker for another person have often previously been subject to neglect. That could be in the form of a neglectful parent, a younger sibling getting all the attention, or a close family member suffering from addiction.
2. Are you a people-pleaser?
You are always trying to please others in an attempt to keep the peace. You’d simply like everyone to be happy and for there to be no fighting.
3. Do you say no to everything?
Your parents might have been strict and rigid, so you started needing strict boundaries when you grew up. Because of that strictness, you set unrealistic boundaries and often say no to everything.
4. Do you say yes to everything?
It could go the other way around and for you to not have any boundaries. You say yes to almost everything and don’t find it easy to stand up for yourself.
5. Do you experience intense fear?
If your childhood was unhealthy, you may have developed some fears during your childhood. You could be scared of being alone, experience nightmares or insomnia, or even feel anxious for no valid reason.
6. Do you have trust issues?
People close to you often let you down, so you have trouble trusting anyone. You even think that the people in your life are just faking care, so you are reluctant to trust them.
7. Do you have problems with control?
Certain forms of codependency can be pretty extremely controlling. You might at one point have felt like your whole life is out of control, which has made you control whatever you can.
8. Do you take on way too much?
Having responsibilities makes you feel worthy and valued. So, you take on way more than you can.
9. Do you refuse to ask for help?
Or you may not necessarily refuse help, you simply don’t like it, because you believe that you can do everything on your own. You can’t trust others enough to get help and stop doing things all alone.
10. Do you show other signs of codependency?
Maybe making decisions doesn’t come easy to you. Also, pinpointing your emotions and feelings seems extremely hard.
It’s difficult for you to have healthy communication in relationships… or any communication, for that matter.
You need the approval of others because you value it much more than your own. Maybe you don’t trust them despite it and don’t even trust yourself.
You could suffer from low self-esteem and have a big fear of abandonment.
Depending on the relationship, it makes your need for approval even bigger.
You’re having trouble setting boundaries. And you feel responsible for the actions of others.
Sometimes, you can be very reactive to things around you – practically anything can trigger you.
You want to feel like you are needed.
High stress levels make you want to control everything. And you might have intimacy problems.
You might be in denial, which prevents you from realizing that you’re codependent.
If any of the above-mentioned questions made you feel somewhat uncomfortable, it’s very likely that you’re codependent.
We are used to depending on others and a lot of people are to some degree codependent.
Those who are really codependent though are overly dependent on the relationships they’re in.
They don’t see their relationships so clearly because they are clouded by emotions.
How to stop being codependent?
Codependent relationships tend to cause personal problems.
A codependent person has low self-esteem and feels the need to prove themselves to those around them.
You might be in an understanding and loving relationship, but you’ll get stressed out if there’s codependency.
Constantly looking for approval isn’t healthy in a romantic or any other relationship.
It can ruin not only your relationship but the way you see yourself. How to stop being codependent then?
Don’t worry, you can learn.
These signs of codependency don’t mean that your romantic relationship is doomed.
Yes, it may be degrading, but you can and need to take action to improve it.
You may be codependent with your romantic partner, friend, parent, child, addict, or boss. Is that really that bad?
Hey, you just want to please and help others, right?
Well, some of the signs I mentioned are okay when you look at them separately and unrelated to codependency.
Maybe you love being a caretaker for some other reasons, or you say yes to everything because you enjoy grabbing life by the horns.
However, it’s all those signs together that are a huge threat to your relationship.
Mutually beneficial relationships aren’t something a codependent person has the ability to create.
Unfortunately, they often end up in confusing, hurtful, one-sided, or even emotionally abusive relationships.
You can try to justify codependency, but it’s definitely not a good thing. It can harm you and others around you.
Being codependent puts you at risk of even developing mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression.
You’re also predisposed to becoming emotionally abusive or engaging in such behavior.
However, your relationship doesn’t have to end if it’s currently codependent. Instead, you can learn how to stop being codependent in relationships.
All it takes is to put a little effort into working on yourself. With some help, you’ll work through this and stop being codependent.
So, if the signs I mentioned earlier sound like you, wait. Stick around to see the easy steps you can take to improve yourself.
You don’t have to end codependent relationships, you can work on them.
People who love and value you will want you to seek help, so you don’t have to go anywhere.
First of all, read and apply the following small steps. People who care about you won’t pull you down, they’ll hold the ladder for you.
You have to climb it one step at a time and you’ll be happier up there in the sunshine. It can bring the best of you into the light so everyone can see it.
But sometimes, codependent relationships can become toxic, and not every relationship is worth saving.
A lot of times though, relationships become codependent just because you bring your past into the present of love.
It doesn’t have to be like that, and you can learn how to make your relationships stronger and more fulfilling.
So don’t delay. Learn how to stop being codependent right now.
1. Notice the signs of codependency in your relationship
Maybe you won’t see all the signs of codependency, but you might notice that you have a pattern.
Perhaps you always take things upon yourself, and you end up feeling like nobody notices it.
You do everything for others, but what do you for yourself?
Figure out what you like doing and do it for you! Identify the patterns that show codependent behavior in a relationship.
You can even write things down when you notice any behavior that seems unhealthy. It might help you become aware of what you need to change.
Don’t be embarrassed about being codependent. You can’t shy away from this. Instead, just take the first step and keep walking towards a better you!
2. Realize your self-worth
Sounds pointless to mention clichés, but we often neglect them when they aren’t pointed out.
Your relationships with others depend on the relationship you have with yourself. So, change that one and all the others will change.
A lot of people see their codependency as some sort of reflection of self-worth that shows something negative.
You might even wonder what’s wrong with you…
Being human is the only problem you’re suffering from, so relax. These days, it’s harder to truly love yourself than it’s ever been.
As children, we learn that happiness is something that comes from outside of us. However, we have to learn to find it inside of ourselves without any external factors.
But once you find happiness, security, and self-worth, you’ll be the person everyone wants to be with!
It simply makes you glow from the inside.
How to stop being codependent? Start by being yourself and loving yourself enough to become the best version of you.
3. Set boundaries
When you recognize the behavior you want to change, stop what you’re doing and set boundaries.
What you’re doing isn’t good for you and you need to realize that.
You’re not helping anyone, you’re just hurting yourself.
In a way, you may be helping others, but if it’s harming you and you don’t really want to do it, don’t.
If no one asked for your help, stop helping them unless they genuinely need it. And even then, consider that they may find help elsewhere.
If you want to stop being codependent, then stop being the one who takes charge of everything and learn to accept help from others instead.
Set some boundaries for others and yourself. You have to say no sometimes, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
4. Make peace with your past
Often, the reason people start being codependent is the past. They bring it with them into the relationship.
But you need to do all that’s in your power to let go of that baggage and leave the past in the past.
I know it’s not as easy as it sounds because we like keeping our baggage with us. But the weight of the world is a heavy load to bear.
Most often, codependent people are in denial and they don’t want to let go of their ghosts from the past.
Recognize them and let them go into the light. You don’t want them to haunt you in your new relationship, do you?
No one wants to be codependent and we ignore it thinking that it will go away. It won’t, not unless you make it go away.
There were problems in your life and you must work through them. Often, you don’t even remember things in your past that were major at the time.
They shaped you into who you are today and there’s some bad stuff you brought into the current you.
Even if you’ve learned your lessons, you have to process your feelings and leave the bad stuff behind.
You probably have some unresolved conflicts when it comes to love, as well as emotional instability.
These issues are often developed in relationships with family members.
You can analyze your past. Make an effort to recall the parts that are foggy and those you’ve been trying to repress.
When you go on this adventure of exploring your true self, you might feel emotionally drained or stressed out at first.
To truly move forward, it’s good to take this step anyway.
The best option is to do this with a licensed professional – a therapist.
They will make you feel like you are in a safe place where it’s okay to express your repressed emotions.
While you discuss things from your past, you won’t need to sugarcoat it – it can sound exactly as you felt it was.
Some things you weren’t aware of will slip out and that’s how they’ll find the roots to your problems.
The process is very cathartic and you’ll feel like you’ve had an epiphany.
Deep down, you already know the truth, but a professional can dig deep enough.
Have any skeletons in your closet? Don’t worry, they won’t jump out. Instead, they’ll be given a proper burial after you open that door.
People often think that they don’t need a therapist, but the sad truth is that we all do.
Some people find a priest, a guru, or a life coach, and there’s a reason they do that.
Because the hard stuff is buried deep and only a professional knows how to safely dig it up and remove it.
A therapist is like a surgeon for your mind that can remove a trauma stuck in your heart – and they don’t need to lay a hand on you.
You can have a much better life, you just need someone to give you a helping hand to climb the ladder step by step.
The ladder isn’t always steady and you will be afraid when it starts shaking, but you can do it.
Even if you fall, it won’t hurt that badly, and you can start climbing again whenever you’re ready.
Are you ready to reach the top already? Are you ready to leave everything that was weighing you down and go up without carrying your baggage?
Because you can, and it’ll be even easier if you get someone to hold the ladder in place for you.
5. Stop being in denial
Be honest with yourself. You have some real problems, and they are more serious than they seem at face value.
While you were a child, your emotional needs weren’t fulfilled. This is a big deal and happens to many people.
Luckily, there’s a cure. But it’s not in the form of a pill. It’s inside you and your decision to change for the better.
Look your denial straight in the face, give it the finger, and finally walk past it.
It takes courage, but the longer you wait, the more dysfunctional your relationships will become.
You will hurt those who want to love you. And remember, you don’t need to change for them, what you need is to improve and do it for yourself.
Do you think that you’ve already changed for the worse since you got into a relationship with your boyfriend?
Make sure you’re not seeing signs you are not really being yourself when you’re with him.
6. Shed your skin
Now, this sounds weird, doesn’t it? Well, snakes shed their skin and we can learn a lot from animals.
There are layers of you that aren’t really a part of you. They are a part of the tough skin you put on every time you get hurt.
You need to detach from your worries, anxieties, problems, and pains.
Most importantly, you need to do this without preoccupations and baggage that both belong in your past.
Imagine the relationship of your dreams. What kind of version of yourself do you need to be to create such a relationship?
Some deep-seated destructive thoughts and unfulfilled needs are covering you like a tough skin that you think keeps you safe.
But tough skin is not the protection you need.
The right mindset and attitude are.
If you want to stop being codependent, identify the harmful things, take some time to dwell on them, and then let them go.
7. Know when to say no
Codependent people often don’t prioritize themselves. They put others’ wants and needs above their own.
Those who are emotionally stable have clear boundaries. If you’re codependent, you might be scared of putting up any boundaries.
You don’t want to lose the relationships you have or upset someone.
Realizing your self-worth can help you with this. Establish boundaries and maintain them.
They are like an extension of yourself. Making others acknowledge and respect them will make them respect you the same way.
8. Surround yourself with support
Those who love you will always stick by your side. If some aren’t willing to do that, they probably aren’t healthy for you, even if they care.
You need someone to talk to and a therapist might be an even better choice than a close friend or family member.
Successfully stopping being codependent can’t happen overnight.
Support is important with any deeply ingrained problems that aren’t easy to work through.
9. Show yourself some care
You need to love yourself and take care of yourself. These are key to quit being codependent and learning to truly be yourself around others.
Don’t you love someone and care for them? You need to do that for yourself too.
Maybe you think that you don’t deserve true love because you believe that you have to earn it.
Love can’t be earned – it can only be given as a beautiful gift.
You might also want to check for signs you are in a relationship with the wrong person.
Establish your self-worth and your value. How? Start by giving yourself the care and compassion that you’d give to anyone else you deeply care for.
What do you need to do to be happy? Try to do that.
Think about yourself and put yourself first for a while.
Take a break from everything and just lie in bed binge-watching your favorite TV show if that’s what it takes.
You are important. Don’t forget that.
10. Grow a thick skin
Did you know that the human skin is the biggest organ any human has? After you have shed yours, you need to grow a new one.
You can have thicker skin again, but it’s natural to be sensitive before it grows back on.
Don’t let the slightest negativity or criticism become an obstacle in your progress.
Keep moving forward and learn to walk again, without anyone holding your hand.
When you feel like you’re going to fall, ask for a helping hand from a professional.
You can have interdependent relationships when you learn how to stop being codependent.