You may have that one friend or family member who will not leave your side. They want to do everything with you and for you at the same time, and are always looking for ways to please you. Although they seem to do everything for everyone else, they never spend time working on themselves. They remain strong for others and cannot control their own feelings and expectations for themselves. Although it might seem nice to have a constant sidekick, and someone willing to drop everything for you at any given moment, people who do this – unless they are catering to a sick person, a mentally ill individual, or an infant – can be seen as codependent. If you or someone you know may suffer from these traits of codependency, we are going to show you how you can help yourself, or help someone else, to get the treatment that they deserve. At the end of the day, we all need to work towards healthy relationships with ourselves and with others. So get ready to be honest with who you are, or with a loved one, and let’s get started.
Traits of a Codependent Person
The first step in treating codependency is acknowledging that you, or someone you know, is codependent. Once you get past that step, you can further work towards treating the problem. If you never address or approach the problem, however, no changes can occur. Here are some general traits of a codependent individual:
- Low self esteem: people who are codependent feel inadequate a majority of the time and cannot seem to accept themselves for the way they are. Basically, they are never going to be good enough for themselves, so they turn their focus onto making themselves as useful and needed as possible for others.
- Perfectionists: They display the need to be perfect in everything that they do. As such, anything that is not perfect is not good enough and they get frustrated and can possibly give up on a goal because of this.
- Poor boundaries: A codependent person does not know where boundaries stand, and can come across as rude or nosy because they cannot separate themselves from another person. They fail to recognize individualism.
- Poor Communication: They have difficulty expressing thoughts, feelings, or engaging in any verbal communication with someone else. Instead, they communicate through doing things for others so they do not have to talk about what might really be bothering them.
- Submissive: Codependent people can be painfully shy and allow other people to walk all over them. This could result in sudden bursts of anger, as they are sometimes not able to control their emotions and let them out properly.
- Control: This is one area that seems to get a little out of hand. Codependent people, ironically, have a hard time controlling their control over people. They want to be fully in control of others lives and even make the necessary changes in their lives to exhibit more control over someone else.
- Manipulation: Codependent people are in no way evil or out to get anyone, they simply do not know how to communicate well and express their feelings. Instead, they manipulate others to get what they want from them and to make sure that they sustain a codependent relationship with the people they want close to them.
- Depression: Naturally, while engaging in these emotionally harmful activities, codependent people are likely to develop depression and other painful emotions, such as: guilt, hopelessness, anxiety, and shame.
Treating Codependency in Yourself
If you or someone you know can relate to feeling, experiencing, or engaging in many of the above behaviors –do not worry—you are not alone. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to gradually pull yourself out of the codependent cycle. One of the first and possibly easiest things that you can do is try to focus on yourself instead of someone else. After all, you are just as important, deserving, and worthy of your own attention, love, and kindness. To start, try practicing some of these behaviors:
- Instead of worry about someone else, try sending them positive thoughts of love, kindness, and gratitude. Positivity can be expressed in other lights.
- Do not judge or get carried away over someone else’s actions. You yourself probably do not like being judged, and chances are, no one else does either.
- Only work on being responsible for your life. Focus on being accountable for your own behavior, actions, and choices.
- Write. People who suffer from codependency have a hard time expressing themselves, so try writing it out if you cannot talk it out. If you feel comfortable enough, read what you have to a close friend, family member, or therapist so that they can get a better idea of how to help you on your healing journey.
- Getting out and exercising is a great way to take care of yourself and put the focus on you. You will have the chance to sweat out any frustration or feelings that you might have. Consider joining a group fitness class or a meditation class to meet some new people.
- If at any time you feel yourself getting worked up over someone or something, walk away from the situation and take some time alone. This will help you gather your thoughts and consider the situation from multiple perspectives.
- Codependent people tend to have low self esteem or self image. A way that you can overcome this hurdle is to write some positive thoughts about yourself every day. If even this is hard you, ask a loved one to help you come up with some traits that they love about you.
Codependent people tend to be overly anxious and stressed out a majority of the time. They cope with this by falling into codependent tendencies and focusing on someone else. If you have traits of codependency, a great way to help manage and deal with the stress or anxiety that you might be feeling is through relaxation techniques. We are going to give you a technique to try out that we think you might enjoy:
- Obtain a relaxed position on the floor, in a chair, or lying down.
- Close your eyes.
- Beginning at your toes, relax each of the muscles in your body.
- While breathing normally, repeat “one” in your head for each time that you inhale or exhale.
- Remember not to control any part of your body or your breathing while you are doing this.
- Continue this exercise for 10 to 20 minutes a day.
Of course, we know it can be hard to help yourself, especially when you are used to helping someone else all the time. Here are some other ways that you or someone you know can get help for codependency.
- Attend 12 step meetings. Go online or look in your phone book to find out where there is a meeting in your area. You will always feel welcome at programs like this.
- See a licensed counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. There are plenty of professional people out there to help you through your issues.
- Pursue other hobbies and meet new people, but remember to practice healthy and safe relationships with them!
- Go to a bookstore, library, or the internet and read about codependency. You will find that you are not alone, and that there are plenty of things that you can do to heal!
You Are Not Alone!
There is no shame in codependency, only confusion and missteps. Remember that you have the power to take back control of your own life and free yourself and others from your hold. Check out many of Udemy’s helpful courses on developing and maintaining strong and healthy relationships in all areas of your life. Think positive!