- Article: Boundaries: The Secret to Finding Balance and Happiness in Life
- Article (External): Symptoms of Codependency
- Article (External): Are You in a Codependent Relationship?
- Resource (External): Co-Dependents Anonymous
Forgive typos and odd grammatical mistakes—this was transcribed using the magic of AI, and while it’s insanely awesome, it’s not perfect.
[00:00:00] On today’s episode of the I Hear You podcast, we’re diving into a tendency that the vast majority of the world struggles with and I’m not exaggerating here.
[00:00:09] This tendency known as codependency, is an unhealthy reliance on or concern for other people’s problems, emotions, actions or opinions of us. And it’s a sneaky little devil because it’s often disguised as kindness or compassion or caring or patients and so on. So today we’re going to define codependency. We’re going to talk about why it’s so harmful to us and our relationships. We’re going to look at several examples of how it shows up in our day to day lives, including some that you might not expect. And we’re also going to discuss a handful of techniques for getting out of it or at least starting to get out of it. We’ll be referring to codependency throughout this entire podcast series. So this episode is a worthwhile listen. Let’s get into it
What is Codependency?
[00:01:15] All right. What is codependency?
[00:01:19] Well, in a healthy relationship, both partners depend on each other equally for love, emotional support and encouragement. That’s a healthy relationship. A codependent relationship, on the other hand, is one sided. It’s a dysfunctional dynamic in which one partner disproportionately gives and sacrifices their own wants and needs to please or clean up the mess of the other partner, who often behaves recklessly or rarely offers that support in return. People in a codependent relationship or people with codependent tendencies often have excessive emotional or psychological dependence on their significant other. They’re basically feeling like they need that other person, whether it’s their approval, whether it’s their presence, whether it’s their support in order to be OK, in order to be happy. Now, these codependent relationships flourish because like we talked about last week, with the drama triangle, we typically, if we are codependent, we typically are attracted to somebody who needs rescuing. We’re typically attracted to somebody who we were attracted to, you know, physically, emotionally, whatever. But in large part, it’s because we feel like we can help them or because we are important or we are needed because maybe they’re an addict, maybe they’re emotionally abusive. And that’s what we’re used to. And or we think that we might be able to help them or fix them. And maybe they’re irresponsible and we pride ourselves on being responsible.
[00:02:50] And we think, oh, that’s fine. I can I can change them or I can make up for their lack of responsibility. They’re a million different things that we might tell ourselves. But the key point here is that in a codependent relationship, one person is almost always giving and bending over backwards and picking up after the other person. And then that other person is often receiving that and they are enabled by, they feel like they can get away with anything because their codependent partner just goes along with the flow. Now, to some people, that might just sound like a perfect fit. If you’ve got a person who’s irresponsible and a person who is responsible, well, then they should go together very well, right? Not necessarily. I mean, sure, you might find instances where that works. But by and large, a relationship where there’s so much giving on one end and so much taking on the other, and it’s not balanced. It doesn’t last. And so while while those relationships might go on for some time, they are ultimately unsustainable, because eventually the giver, quote unquote, the codependent in the relationship starts to feel resentment. They start to get burned out and they start saying to themselves or to others, what the heck?
[00:04:00] I’m always giving. I’m always picking up after you. I’m always taking care of this. When do I get something in return? If you think about that, it’s not actually a very loving situation, as we’re going to unpack a little bit later in today’s episode that suggests that that, quote, kind, giving, caring person actually had strings attached to their gifts, they had expectations. They figured, well, if they gave enough, this other person would change. If they did enough or if they showed up enough, then the other person would start to love them. Then the other person would start to appreciate them. So even that right there starts to suggest that there’s something very unhealthy about a codependent tendency and a relationship with codependent individuals.
Codependent? How Do You Know?
[00:04:45] OK, so how do you know if you’re codependent or if you are at least feeling codependent in this particular moment? I’ll go through a rather large list. You might be codependent if: You expend all of your energy in meeting your partner’s needs. You feel trapped in your relationship. You’re the only one making sacrifices in that relationship. You value the approval of others more than you value your own opinion of yourself. You lack trust in yourself or have poor self-esteem. You might be codependent if you stay in an unhealthy relationship, maybe because you feel like it’s the kind or right thing to do. You are or might be codependent if you feel intensely responsible for other people’s actions. Maybe you feel an intense need to make other people happy or to fix their problems whenever they’re sad. You might be codependent if you often give up your own preferences or needs in favor of calming someone down or avoiding conflict. And lastly, you might be codependent if you regularly cover for other people’s mistakes or lack of responsibility. Did any of those resonate with you? If so, keep listening. And even if not, keep listening because this is still going to be beneficial. But before we go any further, I want to just take a second to talk about what codependency is not.
[00:06:12] This is not to say you can’t be kind and caring. I’m not saying you can’t make compromises, that you shouldn’t change your plans last minute to help someone out. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t worry about how other people are feeling. All of that is appropriate. In fact, it’s essential to healthy relationships. Assuming it is healthy. Assuming its boundaried. Assuming it is kind and sincere. So, I mean, if you’re caring about somebody and you want to help them, and you’re making a compromise, but you’re genuinely OK doing that and you’re genuinely wanting to help them and you’re not feeling bad about or bad for yourself or resentful about it. Then that’s great. Those are all signs that you are operating in a healthy mindset and that you are being genuine and kind in your acts of service.
[00:06:58] Where you start veering into codependency is when you do those things begrudgingly or when you’re sacrificing your own health, safety, security or happiness in favor of someone else. So again, it’s a bit of a fine line here because you might say, well, well, parents, for example, are definitely sacrificing their own health when they’re staying up late with their crying child. You know, maybe, maybe you are sacrificing some of your happiness to decide to go see a movie that your significant other wants to see that you might not. Again, fine line there, because yeah you’re you’re getting up and you’re helping your child because that’s what parents do.
[00:07:34] And that is kind. And it doesn’t always mean you have to have big old chip or smile on your face. And you’ve even in those instances, you might be acting codependent, but you can change your mindset. Easier said than done, especially at 3 a.m. but ideally you stop yourself from falling into the victim mindset and saying, oh, woe is me. I can’t believe I have to get up from my crying child. And instead, perhaps find ways to rephrase it in your mind and say, “yeah, this sucks. Yes, I’m exhausted. No, I don’t want to be doing this.
[00:08:07] And I love my child, so I’m willing to do it.
[00:08:12] And I’m grateful to even have a child because I know there are many people out there who want nothing more than to have kids. And for whatever reason are unable to.
[00:08:22] If you really want to go see one movie and your spouse wants to see the other, well, it’s great if you can get to a spot where you say, you know. I’m not that interested, but I care about you and I can tell that you’re excited,so let’s do it. I’ll enjoy it because you’re enjoying it. That’s healthy, that’s positive, that’s kind, that’s making a good compromise. But if you say, well, I don’t want to see that movie, but fine, we’ll go see it and I’ll just sit there and sulk in my self-pity because I wanted to go see this. Well, then you’re kind of acting like a little elementary school kid, right? That’s codependent. You don’t have to go to the movie. And you also don’t have to stop your spouse from going to the movie. So, again, if you haven’t listened to the drama triangle at last week’s episode, I recommend you go back and listen to that after this, because these two concepts, codependency and the drama triangle, they are intimately connected because oftentimes the rescuer in the drama triangle is the codependent. They’re the ones bending over backwards, doing everything they can to try to, quote unquote, help somebody because they think that’s the kind of thing to do. But the key here is that codependency means oftentimes giving up your own happiness begrudgingly and doing what you think everybody else wants, just to keep them happy.
Why Is It Harmful To Be Codependent?
[00:09:40] OK. But enough about what codependency is. Why should we even care? Why is it harmful to be codependent in a relationship? Well, it’s actually harmful for both people in the relationship. It’s harmful to you yourself and it’s harmful to others. Let’s explore that for a moment. Codependency hurts you. How? Well, because it leads to resentment, because you’re not taking care of yourself. We talked in the very first episode in this series about how your happiness is your responsibility, no one else’s. And if you’re not taking responsibility for your own happiness, then who is? Oftentimes codependents, oftentimes the rescuers in the drama triangle, they think it’s other people’s responsibility to make them happy. Because they think it’s their responsibility to make other people happy. And so, I hope you can start to see how that’s harmful, because essentially what we’re doing is, you know, somebody asks us to do something that we really don’t want to do and we don’t have the time to do or we don’t have the money to do. And that Codependency starts to creep in and we say, well, that would be rude to say, no, you just have to do it. And so we do it and maybe we go into debt for it. Maybe we have to cancel another appointment and we damage a different relationship in favor of this. I mean, there’s so many, often times there’s a domino effect when we aren’t good at holding boundaries, when we let our codependent tendencies take over, because we’re giving up our own self-respect.
[00:11:13] We’re giving up our own happiness. We’re giving up our own needs in favor of trying to help someone else. A second way in which codependency can actually harm you is that it can put you in dangerous situations or it can put or keep you in unhealthy relationships. So this might look like a young woman who doesn’t know how to say no to a guy who wants to take her someplace she doesn’t want to go. This could be the spouse in an abusive marriage who feels like it’s their fault their partner got angry at them. This could be the partner of a porn or sex addict who feels like if they just dressed or acted a certain way, their partner would finally stop acting out. And again, they feel like it’s their responsibility to fix or change their partner. And they they think that surely there’s something they could do to make it better, something they could do to make this other person stop. That’s codependent behavior because, again, they’re trying to control the other person. And yet that keeps us stuck in these unhealthy and sometimes dangerous relationships. Codependency is harmful to others, which again, on the surface might seem a little counter-intuitive here because we’re just talking about how much we’re helping others, helping others, putting others needs before ourselves.
[00:12:26] So if that’s what we’re doing, how on earth is this hurting the other person? Well, key point number one is that often enables irresponsible behavior. So, again, if we look at addicts, which is where the whole term an idea of codependency originated from, was spouses or partners of addicts, because oftentimes this codependent behavior actually makes it easy for that addict to keep acting out. Well, how does that happen? How is that the case? Well, think about it for a second. If they’re acting out and they’re using and therefore they’re dropping all that responsibility and we rush in under the guise of helping or rescuing them and we pay for their rent or we take care of groceries for them or when they’re feeling shameful and embarrassed about what they’ve done, we just say, oh, it’s OK, don’t worry about it. Just try harder next time. Well, that lets them off the hook. That makes it easy for them to just keep in their addictive cycle rather than seeking help. This might look like an irresponsible family member if we’re being codependent with somebody who keeps dropping the ball on things, we give them no reason to change. They have no need to change because we’re taking all the problems away from them. If we take the consequences of someone’s actions away because we don’t want them to suffer, we’re harming them. Because we’re not giving them the chance to change, we’re taking away all incentive to change.
[00:13:53] And therefore, they continue doing what they’ve always been doing, and it’s not going to serve them well in life. If we take this into the workplace for a moment, this might be very easy to be codependent with your colleagues. Right? Because it removes opportunity for learning and for growth. If somebody comes up to us and asks our opinion on a project and it really doesn’t look good and we just say oh it looks great, I really like it! Does that help or hurt them? Because then maybe they walk in to the boardroom with the presentation and they put it up and they just get completely obliterated. Because I guarantee there is going to be some people, likely their boss or their clients who also don’t like it. And they’re not afraid to tell them. So again, codependency here does not help others. It often looks like it, but it actually hurts them because it enables that irresponsible behavior. If that’s not enough, codependency is actually controlling it. That’s manipulative and again, at first glance this might seem counter-intuitive, but if you think about it, if I’m just trying to say the right thing or show up, just the right way, or otherwise do everything quote unquote perfectly so that you like me, or so that you don’t yell at me, or to somehow change your behavior. Is that loving? Or is that selfish?
[00:15:14] Because now I’m actually trying to control you. I’m trying to get, I’m trying to show up a certain way, so that you show up a certain way. I’m doing that because I want something from you. Oftentimes, subconsciously, oftentimes, I don’t even realize. That’s why I’m doing it. But it’s because I’m uncomfortable in certain situations. And so I’m trying to control it. That is codependency. And the third way that codependency is harmful to others is that it allows counterfeit connection to persist. I say counterfeit because again, we often feel like we’re connected. We feel like we’re in love with this other person. I’m assuming romantic here for a second. Romantic relationships. But we feel like we have a great relationship because we’re saving the other person and they’re grateful and we just keep keep going on. But again, that is not a healthy relationship. That is not true love. True love, true connection, means that both people are giving and receiving equally or at least more or less equally your partners or equal partners in a relationship. You are equally yoked. When we are in an unbalanced or a codependent relationship, there’s no real connection or if there is, rarely does it last.
[00:16:26] So the third way that codependency is harmful to others is that it allows that counterfeit connection to persist. As long as you are serving and giving and bending over backwards for this other person. They quote unquote, love you. But heaven help you if you decide to set a boundary. If you decide to speak up for yourself, if you decide to ask for a favor, because oftentimes, especially if you are in an abusive relationship, they lash back out and they say, how dare you? That’s so selfish of you. I can’t believe you would ask that of me. I can’t believe you would do that to me. Is that love? Is that real connection? Hell, no.
[00:17:03] So, codependency while it may seem like it’s serving you and while it may seem like it’s serving the other person, the opposite is true. Codependency does not help anyone. Which is why we’re talking about it here, because, again, I don’t say that in a shameful way. If if you’re identifying with these statements. Welcome to the club. Because I struggle with codependency, I have my whole life. And frankly, most people that I know struggle with it as well. Varying degrees of it. You don’t have to be a raging codependent, married to an addicted person and an all kinds of stuff to be the codependent, very healthy, emotionally healthy. People still struggle with feelings of codependency, even if you just want to call them tendencies from time to time.
Real World Examples
[00:17:44] But it’s all the same at the end of the day. Our aim here is to learn to identify them, recognize it for what it is, and then figure out how to fix it and heal it. So on that topic, let’s unpack a few real world situations. Let’s look at what codependency actually looks like in real life or perhaps where it where the tendencies to act codependent, we might come into play. The first example I want to use is actually from one of my favorite books titled Boundaries. I’m definitely doing a future podcast on Boundaries because it connects to codependency as well. A lot of things we’re talking about here are a chain. They are connected to each other. The drama triangle relates very well, it connects very well to codependency. If you’re struggling with codependency, you’ll likely struggle with setting boundaries. So anyway, all of that taking it back to the story from this book. So the article, or the author excuse me. There were two authors, Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I frankly don’t recall who is telling the story in this instance, but one of them said that he had a couple come into his office one afternoon and ask for help in, quote unquote, fixing their son. Now, their son was an adult, at least over the age of 18. I don’t recall his actual age, but they said, you got to help us. Our son has a problem.
[00:19:04] And the first thing he said was, well, where’s your son? And they said, well, he’s not here. He didn’t want to come because he he doesn’t think he has a problem. So he refused to come with us.
[00:19:15] And he said, OK. I’m listening. Continue. And they said, well, it’s just so frustrating because, he’s a great kid, but he just doesn’t seem to really take things seriously. I mean, we’re paying for his schooling and he goes through about a semester and then drops out. And so we try to support him. We say, okay, maybe that wasn’t for you. So how about you get a job here instead? And he’s like, well, I don’t really want to work. And because he’s not working now, he doesn’t have money for rent. So like the loving parents we are, we invite him to move in with us. And so he’s staying with us now, and that’s fine. You know, we like seeing him around. We really wish you would get a job, though, because we’re kind of concerned about that.
[00:19:52] We just can’t seem to figure out how to get him to take responsibility and to really do more with his life. You’ve got to help us. Now, Dr. Cloud’s response here is amazing. He said that he leaned back in his chair, looked at the couple and said, I think your son’s right. He doesn’t have a problem. They apparently just stared at him dumbfounded like that, I really just hear you think, did you not hear our whole like our son is a mess? Did you really not hear what we just shared with you? And after he kind of let them stew in that for a moment, he said, your son doesn’t have a problem. You’ve taken the problem from him. He’s acting irresponsibly in this way. And yet you’ve just stepped in and taken that from him. You didn’t use these words, at least not in the book, but you are codependent with your son, because he’s acting irresponsibly and instead of doing the loving thing, which is letting him face the consequences of his actions so that he actually learns to change. You’re stepping in and you’re taking away all of the results or all of the consequences. So life is pretty good for him so he can just keep on doing what he’s doing. That, to me is a perfect example of codependency. Again, these parents thought they were being kind. They thought they were being loving. They thought they were helping their son when really they were hurting him and they were hurting themselves. It was painful enough that they they paid to go see a therapist. They paid to go try to figure out what was going on here. That is codependency. Let’s take it back home for a minute and say that your spouse tells you that they’ll pick up the kids after school, but you get a call at 3 o’clock from your kids saying that your spouse never showed up. What do you do?
[00:21:40] Well, if you thought, well, I would just go and pick up the kids and I would say something to my spouse about it when I got home. You might be airing or slipping into codependency there. Again, there’s not. I’m careful to not saying you are, because rarely is there hard, fast rule. And that’s codependent and that’s not. But think about it for a second.
[00:21:59] If you’re feeling resentful toward your spouse when you go pick up the kids and if you’re angry about it. Are you rescuing your spouse from the negative consequences of their actions? Now, it might be the right thing to go pick up your kids in this instance, especially if they’ve been waiting for a long time. One alternate approach might be to call your spouse and say, I just got a call from the kids. They said you didn’t pick them up. What’s going on? And if they say, oh, my gosh, I totally forgot, I’m really busy right now. Can you can just go pick them up real quick. Again, you have another opportunity there to either make, well, you have an opportunity to make a decision there. And you’ve got to be careful to make sure that you’re not acting codependency. If you can get to a spot of centeredness and say, OK, I’m willing to go pick them up. You know, I recognize that I don’t want to, but I’m okay doing this. Then you can go do that and that’s fine. But if you are leaving another very important meeting or if you’re really having to make a major sacrifice that’s hurting you when you know your spouse is capable of stopping whatever they’re doing and picking up the kids, then you might consider setting that boundary. You might consider putting that back on your spouse and saying, no, you committed you know that I’m in in this important meeting and I cannot step out right now. So please go pick up the kids and let’s talk about this tonight. Another example here, let’s say that a family member asks to borrow money from you, but you know they’re not going to pay you back. Maybe they have a history of it or maybe you just know their personality and you’re nervous right there. They ask you when you go, Oh, I don’t want to be rude. I mean, they’re my brother than my sister, they’re my mom, they’re my dad.
[00:23:37] I don’t want to be rude, but I really do want to give the money. What do you do?
[00:23:44] Are you being codependent by giving them the money right there or are you being kind? Well, again, it goes back to your motives. It goes back to your emotions, it goes back to how you’re feeling if you give them the money and then you resent them for asking you big red flag. That’s codependency, because again, you are throwing out your own needs, you’re throwing out your own feelings and your emotions. And you’re saying theirs are more important than mine. And you’re saying I need this relationship. I need this person to be happy in order for me to be OK. That’s a glaring red flag that you are acting codependently in that situation. So that’s where boundaries come in. Again, I want to keep using the phrase boundaries. We’re going to have to talk about that soon here, because if this person has a pattern and or you know that you can’t count on them, then you have every right, in fact, a responsibility to stick up for yourself. And so I’m not going to get into all the details. But in this particular instance, you might say, you know what, I recognize that you’re in a tough situation and unfortunately, you don’t have a great track record for paying people back. I don’t feel like I can give you this money in good faith. I’m sorry. When you heard that response did your skin crawl, did you get super uncomfortable? If so, you’re not alone.
[00:25:01] But that’s also a good sign that you’ve got some codependency inside of you. Those are difficult conversations to have regardless. So I’m not saying that these had to be easy for you or you’re totally screwed. But what I am saying is, we need to get better and comfortable with having these candid conversations with people. Otherwise, we give up our own happiness. We give up our own needs. And it’s just not a healthy and happy way to live.
[00:25:27] Two more quick examples here. Let’s say that in the business world, you’re negotiating a deal, but you’re hesitant to push back on the price for fear of offending the sales rep. Have you ever been in a situation like this? Do you just hate negotiating for this reason? If so, you might be codependent, you might be struggling with something there. And so again, you have the right to push back. You have every right to say, I’m not comfortable with this. I don’t like this. That’s not going to work for me. All of those are healthy boundaries. All of those are healthy communication techniques that we all need to get comfortable using. If you struggle with that, if you avoid situations and negotiation or if somebody names a price and you say, OK, fine, I’ll pay it and then you resent them for it. Or you start thinking, I shouldn’t have done that when I just felt so embarrassed, I didn’t want to leave, ding ding doing, codependency.
[00:26:14] And the final example we actually talked about this little earlier, but again, going back to the coworker who asks your opinion on their project, if you feel codependent, you might just tell them what they want to hear, even though it’s not true. And again, like we already talked about, that hurts them more than it helps them, because you’re not being honest. They’re coming to you, they want your honest opinion. There are tactful ways to give it, there are ways to tell them, you know what? It’s just not quite doing it for me. There are ways to suggest changes that actually help them. And that don’t come across as rude or abrasive. So those are a handful of a billion different ways codependency can show up in our lives. Sometimes that’s the big, difficult situations in our family life or growing up in an abusive childhood, very, very difficult to see and navigate. Other times it’s very simple situations like you’re just trying to go pick a movie. You just tried to pick a movie to go see with your friends or you’re trying to decide where to go for dinner and you find yourself giving up and giving up your own needs or your wants and resenting people for it. There are so many ways to slip into it. But the key is to just start to recognize and to start looking for it. Now let’s talk about how to break the cycle, how to get out of codependency.
Breaking The Cycle
[00:27:30] There is no one size fits all easy solution. I hate to break it to you, but the following four tips might help. First, it starts with awareness.
[00:27:40] You’ve got to recognize that you’re feeling or acting codependent before you can do anything about it. But you might be saying, okay, Michael, how do I recognize it, because this is a lifelong pattern for me, I didn’t even really recognize until we started talking in the podcast. Well, I always recommend that people look for triggers and there are four key triggers that I find capture most codependent situations. And they are these:.
[00:28:01] 1. Look for feelings of resentment about a request or commitment.
[00:28:07] 2. Look for feeling like you need to help rescue someone.
[00:28:13] 3. Look, for anytime you feel bad for speaking up or stating an opinion or asking for help or setting a boundary or otherwise taking care of yourself.
[00:28:23] 4. Look for moments when you’re feeling worried about what other people think of you.
[00:28:30] So, again, feeling resentment about a request. Somebody asks something of you and you’re resenting them for it, that’s slipping into codependency. If you’re feeling a need to help or rescue someone all they’re upset. Oh, they’re sad. I don’t like this. I have to get it and I have to fix them. That’s another sign. Number three, if you’re feeling bad for speaking up, if you say, no, I’m not okay with that. And then suddenly like, oh, wait nope, sorry. Actually, I can. I can’t be OK. That’s fine. I should never have said anything. That’s a red flag. And then finally, again, being worried about other people’s. Other people think of you if you decide to not even speak up or if you again, you decide not to give feedback or if you decide to do or not do something just because you’re worried about how other people will perceive you, that’s another sign that you’re slipping into codependency.
[00:29:16] So step one is awareness, catching yourself slipping into it, or at least catching yourself possibly slipping into it, because step 2 here is to seek a healthy outside perspective. Find at least one other person and this could be a friends could be family member if they are aware of this stuff and if they’re healthy. If not, it might need to be a therapist. But find somebody else that you can reach out to that you can quickly relate the experience to and say, am I seeing this accurately? I really don’t want to do this. But should I? Am I being a horrible person by not wanting to go or am I just sticking up for myself? Is it OK for me to set a boundary here or am I over over boundary-ing am I overstepping my rights here? Those are questions that are oftentimes difficult for us to figure out on our own, but can be quite easy for somebody who’s standing on the outside looking in.
[00:30:09] I do this often, frankly, almost daily with my wife or with my siblings, because, again, these little instances come up all the time. I remember a month or so ago, I was negotiating for a foreign rights book deal and I started feeling codependent because this person responded and they said oh, well, I wish you had done this and this instead of just asking me to lower or to increase the bid here last minute and I start thinking, oh, was that was that wrong of me? Was that bad business practice? And I almost responded back to him and just said, oh, I’m sorry. You know, you’re right. I didn’t mean to do it that way. And I’m okay with your first proposal.
[00:30:48] But when I started talking to my wife about, I said, is this wrong? Is this good business practice or am I just being codependent? And I got her feedback. I called my father asked and the same thing, it was helpful to get a few different outside perspectives and nice that we were able to use the verbiage, the language of am I being codependent here or is this a proper approach to this situation? So step two or tip number two, finding that outside perspective, somebody who can confide in and trust is immensely valuable. And that actually leads me in to tip number three, and that’s defined counseling or a support group. If this is especially difficult for you.
[00:31:28] Now, chances are good that if you’re in a relationship that’s abusive or if you’re in a relationship with an addicted partner, I strongly encourage you to consider counseling and or perhaps joining a 12-Step group such as. What’s it called? Codependents anonymous. They have meetings worldwide and I’ll put a link to their Web site in the show notes here. But finding a support group, finding a therapist or a counselor that can help you goes a long way. I speak from experience again, if you missed the intro, I went to therapy for four years and that was weekly group visits to 12-Step groups and weekly meetings with my therapist and sometimes weekly group meetings with that therapist as well. So holy crap, I have a lot therapy behind me, but it was so valuable because I would weekly come into these situations, say here’s what’s happening at work. Here’s what’s happening with my partner. Here’s what I’m dealing with with my stupid roommates. And they were able to help me recognize, hey, that’s codependent, that’s codependent. No, that’s healthy. No, that’s good. Now you want to do that. Giving that outside perspective is immensely valuable. And I attribute a lot of my own personal growth and development to those men and women who helped me. And finally, tip number four, work on your own self-esteem and practice asserting yourself in safe relationships.
[00:32:48] Again, this is where a support group can be immensely helpful, because I say you practice asserting yourself in safe relationships. If you are in a relationship where the partner is not safe to talk to when it’s very difficult. You know, if you know that when you set a boundary, they’re just going to lash out at you and scream at you. Well, maybe that’s not the place to start practicing asserting yourself. Likely you’re going to want to start practicing that in safer relationship. You know, it’s all about baby steps. Find other relationships that you can start practicing setting boundaries.
[00:33:20] You can start asserting yourself. You can start conquering your own codependent tendencies and recognizing, oh, the world’s not ending. Oh, that actually feels good to stick up for myself and start getting those small wins under your belt and then slowly work up into the bigger relationships. Those are often your family relationships because they know how to get right to the core. But baby steps work on your own self-esteem, work on practicing and work on asserting yourself, because ultimately that is how you overcome codependency. And now that might be oversimplifying it. I recognize that a lot of this comes from, again, the good ole family issues. So that’s why, again, I always recommend finding a great therapist if this is a major struggle for you, because this is one of the most freeing things to experience once you really know how to recognize and heal codependent tendencies. My goodness, the world changes for the better.
Conclusions and Invitation
[00:34:18] So that’s where I want to wrap up today’s episode here. And of course, I want to wrap it up with an invitation. Keep an eye out for triggers this next week. We mentioned them earlier on resentment, needing to help or rescue someone, feeling bad for speaking up for yourself, or worrying what other people think about you. Put your antenna up for these and the next time you recognize a trigger, take a step back and ask yourself, is what I’m about to do healthy or is it codependent? And if the answer is not very obvious to you.
[00:34:52] Call up a friend. Call up your spouse. Call up a family member about this and say, hey, here’s a situation. Here’s what I’m planning to do. Getting that’s healthy, urging that that’s codependent. Am I still maintaining my own integrity and my still taking care of myself and helping this person? Or am I throwing this away? And hopefully that person can help you navigate that situation. Having someone on call to give feedback is a critical step in healing this and learning to heal. This is a critical step in finding greater happiness, confidence and connection in life. So that’s gonna do it for today’s episode.
[00:35:30] I’m curious, I want to know, I want to hear from you. What do you think about all of this? Do you see yourself? Do you see any of these tendencies in your own life? If so, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me on my Web site at michaelssorensen.com or just by finding me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And as always, if you’re finding this content valuable, please consider leaving a rating or review on the show. Until next time.
2 thoughts on “E7: Codependency: Your Happiness Matters, Too.”
Great article, well written, I recognized my own codependence from this article. great content.
Thank you, Linda—happy to hear that!