If you have read the previous blog post, “Are You Codependent, 6 Ways to tell”, then you may have learned that codependency could be described as “using a relationship to fill a void” and “not feeling whole and loved as an individual”. It was so simply illustrated in the children’s book by Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree, that “excessively sacrificing one’s needs in order to try to meet the needs of another” ultimately can have detrimental consequences for both people.
Do you or someone you know struggle with breaking the cycle of codependency? Most people who struggle with codependency can sometimes confuse enabling with love. They give too much and convince themselves it’s because they love the person. While this may be true, there has to be a balance. Both people in the relationship deserve to be happy and get what they need. The cycle of codependency prevents this from happening and tips the balance in the relationship where one person holds the majority of the power and influence.
5 Strategies To Breaking The Cycle of Codependency
Now that you’ve read what codependency is, you may recognize the cycle of codependency in your own life. So what can you do? In order to prevent more anxiety in your own life and help you experience the happiness and balance you deserve, here are 5 strategies to breaking the cycle of codependency:
Replace the Negative
Find the genuine, healthy sources for a positive self-esteem in order to replace the negative ones. When you feel anxious, depressed or stressed your self-esteem is affected and the negative aspects are likely to become extreme – seeming even worse than they are. You’re likely to expect the worst and focus on the most negative aspects of your situation. It can be difficult but it’s almost always helpful to try and put things into the proper perspective.
Slowly “ween” yourself
Slowly start to ‘ween’ your help from the people in your life who drain you. These are dysfunctional relationships and feeds the cycle of codependency. This might result in the ‘needy’ person abandoning the codependent individual. That might hurt and be difficult but ultimately creating healthy boundaries in your relationships is one of the important steps to reclaiming your life back and breaking the cycle of codependency.
Find productive and fulfilling activities that don’t involve satisfying other people. This can be achieved by doing things you enjoy. Find a hobby, meet new friends, join a club, or invest your time into something rewarding and healthy.
Face the facts
The people in your life need to learn to take care of themselves, take responsibility for their own problems and begin to solve them. If you stop bailing them out, they learn to handle life’s challenges themselves. The struggle for many codependents is they feel like a failure when they see someone they love fail. But being their crutch isn’t really success, it’s just sharing failure. Look at it like this: You are helping them empower themselves. You want them to join you as a partner or companion your life, not to carry them through theirs.
Learn New Skills
Codependency is treatable, and you can find relief from the cycle of codependency. Codependent relationships create guilt and care-taking behaviors that may cause you to feel sick and exhausted. The key is learning new skills, taking a close look at your behavior in relationships, and investing the time in yourself, which is necessary to make the changes you want.
Breaking the cycling of codependency can feel like an impossible task. You don’t have to do it alone. There are many resources available. I highly recommend Melody Beattie’s book, Codependent No More. If you want to further discuss how the cycle of codependency affects your life and relationships, I would suggest talking to a professional. I recommend the team of highly trained therapists at FTAJ who specialize in helping clients understand how their behaviors impact themselves and their relationships along with practical ways to manage those codependent tendencies. If you would like to schedule with one of these therapists, they can help you break the bond of codependency.