Yesterday we looked at the definition of codependency in relationships and the impact that it can have on both our sense of self and the relationship itself. Anyone can become codependent; the first step in moving towards a healthier way of being is through work on the self.
The tendency to become codependent can come from childhood; if you had an alcoholic parent, you probably learned some enabling behaviours from family members; perhaps you were also parentified by your parent’s substance abuse. Children who are taught that they need to gain a parents approval to gain love can form codependent relationships in their adult life; same thing can happen when children are taught to submiss their needs. And of course having a codependent parent sets up the scene perfectly for enmeshment.
When we begin to understand that codependency is actually damaging to our sense of self, we can begin by:
- Explore through journaling. What are my values? What are the things that are important to me? What are my needs in relationship? Who do I seek approval from and why? What are my feelings about this? When do I feel most like myself?
- Create positive affirmations to counter negative self-talk. “I deserve a healthy relationship.” “It is not my job to fix or be responsible for someone else’s feelings/choices/behaviours.” “I can make my own decisions.” “I am important too.”
- Begin making decisions on your own. Even small ones are a step in the right direction – not answering a text right away, not leaning in with an immediate solution, writing out a pros and cons list, starting an activity that interests you, seeking outside guidance.
- Spend time alone. This might be a tough one, but is an important step in getting to know ourselves better. Start in small increments so as to get used to the feeling of being comfortable in this vulnerable position. Be curious. What does it feel like to spend some time alone? What might I do that would create a feeling of contentedness within myself?
These are some ways that we begin to develop a stronger sense of self. When we can place a higher value on who we are, we move from a more confident position; we have faith in who we are and we move away from needing someone else to fill that space for us.
Tomorrow’s post will explore what needs to change in the relationship to move out of a codependent position.
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