Today, you’re going to learn how to break codependency habits for good.
- What Is Codependency?
- Codependency Traits
- How To Break Codependency Habits?
- #1. Being Critical of Yourself
- #2. Isolating and Hiding Out In an Attempt to Protect Yourself
- #3. Holding on to Your Numbing Mechanisms
- #4. Comparing Yourself to Others
- #5. Self-Sabotage
- #6. Feeling like a Fraud
- #7. People Pleasing and Approval Seeking
- #8. Perfectionism
- #9. Keeping a Tough Exterior
- #10. Trying to Control Everything
- #11. Bracing Yourself for Catastrophe
- #12. Blaming Others
- #13. Holding on to Unhealthy Guilt
- Get FREE Overcome Codependency Worksheets
What Is Codependency?
Codependency is the over focus on others and under focus on one’s self.
Codependents suffer from a sense of helplessness over their own emotions and wellbeing. They attach their happiness and worth to other people.
Because of that belief, they become fixated on someone else, wanting them to behave in certain ways: “If they do “X”, then I can be okay/happy.”
To get someone to change, codependents use caretaking. Behind this caretaking is a belief that “If I did enough, the other person will love me and change for me.”
However, despite their best efforts, codependents end up feeling unappreciated and resentful.
As a codependent, you may struggle with the following issues:
3. Boundary setting,
4. Love addiction,
6. Emotional abuse,
10. Low self-esteem,
11. Poor communication,
12. Lack of self-awareness.
Here is a Codependency Quiz to take and other codependency free resources.
How To Break Codependency Habits?
#1. Being Critical of Yourself
No one wants to be in a verbally abusive relationship in which the other person constantly criticizes you and makes you feel terrible. Yet, this is exactly the relationship most of us have with our own selves.
We constantly have inner dialogues that are less than loving or accepting. Like when you see yourself in the mirror, after making a mistake, or when you start comparing yourself to others.
But your inner critic doesn’t always sound like a monologue. It can also come as an overall feeling of “not enoughness”. That everyone else has it figured out but not you.
Why Does It Even Matter How You Talk to Yourself?
If being kind to other people is important, it’s even more important to be kind to yourself.
In fact not being compassionate with yourself and beating yourself up on a regular basis, takes its toll on your overall happiness and self-esteem. It even bleeds into other areas of your life.
How to Fix It?
1. Noticing the negative self-talk
Awareness is half the battle. Once you recognize what is there and when it happens, you can identify the negative talk and change it.
Recognizing the negative self-talk can be the hardest step to change it because many of us have listened to it for so long that we’re used to it and take it as our truth.
For each area of your life (relationship, friendship, physical appearance, work, parenting, etc) ask yourself “What does my inner critic say about me in this area?”
Identify which of these areas is affecting your happiness and overall well-being the most.
Your inner critic is more than thoughts running through your mind, it’s a voice that senses messages stemming from deep-held beliefs you have about yourself.
This isn’t about changing your thoughts. It’s about changing what you believe, deep down, to be true about yourself.
Be aware not to mistake your inner critic for your motivator. No one beats themselves up into happiness and success.
2. Knowing your triggers
Some of your triggers are obvious like knowing that following certain models on Instagram will make you feel inadequate. But oftentimes, your triggers are hidden.
Deep down, we have a biological need to belong. This is why we care a lot about how other people view us.
Go back to your list of different areas of your life. For each area, write down a few words you wouldn’t want other people to use to describe you. For example, you might not want your partner to see you as needy and insecure. Then ask yourself why is it so important to you that your partner doesn’t see you as needy and insecure?
This is mean to help you recognize almost instantly that when you’re beating yourself up, it’s because you’re worried about how others see you.
So when you make a mistake don’t jump up and attach yourself, simply admit that it was a mistake, apologize and move on. Everyone makes mistakes.
Notice that you don’t have to tell yourself how awesome you are. You simply admit the truth – that everyone makes mistakes, you try to fix it, and that’s it.
This is self-compassion.
3. Committing to the process
If you want to stop beating yourself up, you’ll need to recognize the voice of your inner critic, catch yourself and start to be more compassionate toward yourself.
It’s a process that you need to commit yourself to until it becomes second nature.
Choose a mantra to say whenever you hear the voice of your inner critic such as “Thanks for sharing, but I choose not to listen,” or, “I heard that, but I’m moving on.” or you can ask yourself questions like “Is this true?” or, “What am I making up about this?”
Acknowledge the self-talk and move on in a compassionate way. Don’t tell yourself to shut up!
Talk to yourself as you would to someone you love. If a friend, for example, says about herself “I’m such an idiot. I should not have made such a mistake.” Wouldn’t you tell her something like “It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes” and maybe remind her of the great things she has done before. This is how you should treat yourself, too.
#2. Isolating and Hiding Out In an Attempt to Protect Yourself
We’re social beings who crave connection. We know a lot of people, we have many friends, but when it comes to our support system, most of us struggle in this area.
Many of us tend to isolate and hide our struggles and refuse to let others see them. Maybe you do too.
When you’re facing a crisis, you don’t reach out for help. You think to yourself “No one wants to hear about my problems,” or, “I can deal with this on my own,” or, “She’s so busy and I don’t want to bother her.”
People who engage in this habit are often outgoing, social, and if you meet one, you’d think they have a great life. But deep inside, they feel lonely and anxious.
They’re afraid of looking needy, of being judged, or simply burdening someone else with their pain. They don’t even ask themselves “Shall I call her?” or pausing for a few seconds when someone asks how we are. They simply choose not to reach out.
Related: How To Stop People Pleasing?
Where Does It Come From?
Hiding out has little to do with being shy or introverted. Oftentimes, it’s something that has happened in the past that created it. Perhaps you reached out before or expected someone to there for you, only to be rejected or criticized for the way you felt. Or maybe it’s the simple fact that no one in your family talked about their feelings.
Being able to pinpoint the reason behind this habit can help you change it. But even if you cannot find a clear-cut reason, it’s fine. Other habits like perfectionism can contribute to isolating and hiding out.
How to Fix It?
Reaching out for help can tough. It requires vulnerability, and vulnerability is scary. We risk being rejected, judged, criticized – sometimes silently, but if you feel it, it’ll hurt just the same.
At the same time, you’re risking feeling lonely and isolated, which in turn leads to more negative habits such as negative self-talk, which also leads to more isolation, and so on.
With that being said, you don’t need to call up your friends right away and pour out all your troubles. Right now, you just need to think about it. Are you hiding out and isolating yourself? Do you want to regret not finding people you can lean on?
Ask For What You Need
People aren’t mind readers, so you need to start asking for what you need, and that includes support.
Begin a conversation like this: “I want to tell you something hard that happened to me lately, but I don’t need you to give me advice. I just need you to listen. Will you do that?”
Anyone who truly cares about you will be happy to know what it is that you need and give it to you.
#3. Holding on to Your Numbing Mechanisms
Who doesn’t want happiness, bliss, optimism, and love? Everyone is searching for eternal happiness. But when it comes to difficult feelings like sadness, shame, fear, disappointment, and stress, most of us shove them away and do anything to forget about them.
We’ve gotten so good at numbing our emotions.
The truth is the harder you push the difficult emotions and the more you run from them, the less happiness you’ll experience. But when you learn to deal with all the feelings, you become more resilient and feel happier.
The reason why we’d much rather bypass than deal with them is that it hurts. And when we’re aware of what will hurt us, we typically stay away from it.
But emotional pain can be like physical pain. It gets our attention and warns us that something is wrong and needs to be changed. It’s like someone coming up to you telling you “That person has been mistreating you for a while. It’s time to set some boundaries and speak up.”
All the Ways We Numb
To numb our feelings, many of us resort to food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, work, internet (scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, etc), love (usually unhealthy ones), busyness, etc.
You might use one or many of them. The point is to acknowledge the fact that you’re numbing your feelings and become conscious about how you’re doing it.
Numbing Versus Comfort
It’s hard to recognize our numbing mechanisms because they’re the same we use when we need some comfort. The key to tell whether you’re numbing or simply comforting yourself is when you lose your sense of self-control and move into disassociating territory.
For example, instead of comforting yourself at the end of a bad day by spending some time on Facebook for a few minutes, you find yourself spending hours mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
You need to ask yourself, “what is self-care for you?” No one except you knows when you’re numbing your feelings and not simply seeking comfort.
How to Fix It?
Feeling your feelings is a learned process. You’ll need to learn to do things a different way, and that takes practice. Below are some tools that will help do that:
1. Controlled emoting
Pick a time when you won’t be disturbed and let your emotions out. Get old letters or photographs, dig around in these old memories and let yourself cry.
According to Laura Probasco, a licensed clinical social worker, “Controlled emoting and/or trauma release can be a crucial part of the healing process.
As humans, we store our trauma and emotions in our memories, which are usually trapped or pushed down to protect ourselves from the reality of our pain.
Giving yourself the permission to go back and revisit these thoughts provides the ability to not only confront them but to heal.”
2. Accept that you’re allowed to feel your feelings
Sometimes, we compare our hurt to someone else’s and decide that it isn’t as bad as theirs – and therefore, is unworthy of feeling it. So it remains unexpressed.
But stuffing down your feelings, simply because someone else is suffering more than you, will backfire. And that serves no one. By not allowing yourself to feel pain, you’re not easing other people’s suffering.
3. Talk your feelings out
It might your therapist, a family member, or a friend. Whoever you trust to hear your pain and see your vulnerability. This isn’t about pouring out all your dark secrets, this is about getting the support you need.
If you can’t find someone you trust, 7cups of tea is an online service with thousands of volunteer listeners stepping up to lend a friendly ear.
#4. Comparing Yourself to Others
It’s easy to fall in the trap of comparison. Whether it’s a friend, a colleague, a profile online, or a stranger walking down the street, you can’t help but find something about them to compare yourself to.
Consciously or unconsciously, you convince yourself that they have something you don’t, or are someone you can never be. You end up feeling bad about yourself.
The truth is, the people you’re comparing yourself to are, purposely, only showing off the best moments and parts of their lives and themselves.
How to Fix It?
It’s almost impossible to stop comparing yourself to others. But the goal isn’t to eliminate this habit, but rather to manage it.
1. Become intimate with your success
Many people are uncomfortable about the idea of feeling pride in what they’ve accomplished. They see it as bragging and not being humble.
But this isn’t about telling everyone about it. It’s about getting up close and personal with your own accomplishments and feeling actually proud of yourself.
This will help you manage the comparisons that are bringing you down.
Make an inventory of your successes and achievements. They don’t have to be huge successes like winning the Pulitzer Prize.
Graduating from high school, or quitting smoking are also accomplishments worth taking pride in.
2. Control what you can
Initially, you start following models and gurus to get inspired and improve your life. You want to start working out, so you follow workout experts.
After a while, you find yourself doing little to no workout and soon you start comparing yourself to them feeling inadequate and assuming that their lives are better than yours.
If following these people is doing nothing to improve your life, stop following them.
Even in real life, there might be people in your “peripheral” area of your friendships to unfollow, too. Give yourself permission to stop hanging around them.
The key to managing your comparison habit is to realize you’re doing it, so you can immediately choose not to go down that road.
When you catch yourself doing it, use a mantra to get your attention and pull you out of the comparison trap. It could be something like “Thanks for sharing, but I choose not to listen,” or, “Well, that just happened.”
There comes a point in our lives when we start feeling worthy of wanting what we want and going after it.
Maybe you feel ready for a healthy, mature relationship, or making more money in your career. You feel pleased with yourself.
But then, even though your relationship is going well, you start thinking about all your failed relationships. You worry about being seen for all your flows. So you find yourself hiding and distancing yourself.
Or maybe you get a promotion at work and you start telling yourself that you don’t deserve to get promoted and worry that you probably are going to screw it up.
This is self-sabotage.
It’s as if you expect things to fall apart anyway and you’re simply trying to be in control of your life by creating the inevitable, whether consciously or unconsciously.
One reason why people sabotage their lives, is because reaching our goals means that we’re being vulnerable. We might fail and not reach the goal. But we might also succeed and people will have things to say about it, or it will make them uncomfortable.
In this situation, instead of going for it, we choose the most familiar path: staying where we are and self-sabotaging. Typically we don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s also uncertain.
So when we stay the same we know what the outcome will be, and that makes us comfortable.
Another reason why you might self-sabotage is that you don’t love yourself. Unconsciously, you’re gathering evidence to show yourself that you’re unworthy and anything good.
How to Fix It?
1. Admit It and Name It
Look at different areas in your life (relationships, work, health, money, etc) and ask yourself “What am I actually avoiding?”
Someone who might have been cheated on in his relationship, might avoid trusting everyone. Instead of looking at his own issues in relationships, he chooses to keep his distance, but he also keeps picking the wrong partners.
Getting clear on what exactly you’re afraid of is the first step to heal and get what you want in life.
2. Take action
Practice taking imperfect and brave action. Realize when you want to fall into a self-sabotaging behavior and choose to lean into the uncertainty and discomfort.
Apply to promotion instead of passing it up, ask your new friend to hand it out instead of spending another night mindlessly watching TV.
You might fall back to your self-sabotaging ways. But keep in mind that this is about progress, not perfection.
You might have found yourself accomplishing something great and feeling proud for a few minutes, only to immediately wonder when everyone will find out how undeserving you are of this accomplishment.
You might have gotten a promotion only to tell yourself that, “They probably were under pressure from upper management to give the promotion so that’s why I got it.”
This is called the imposter syndrome. It’s when people have a persistent belief in their lack of abilities and competence. They are convinced that their accomplishments are undeserved and chalk up their achievements to chance and other external factors.
This is part of your inner critic and it’s more common than you think.
Why Do You Have It?
Even if you grew up in a “healthy” family, no one comes out of childhood and adolescence completely unscathed. Therefore, many experiences could have created your imposter complex.
Maybe your family ignored your success to keep you humble and focused on the less than perfect grades to help you improve. Perhaps you work in a field where you find yourself surrounded by men and feel like you need to work twice as hard to have your ideas and opinions heard.
Or maybe it came from being in a culture that minimizes the success of women. So you believe that it’s improbable that you could be smart and accomplished.
In short, even though it’s not your fault, it’s now up to you to change that belief system and stop seeing yourself as a fraud.
How to Fix It?
1. Acknowledge it
Getting over the imposter complex has a lot to do with your inner critic. But if you read the description of the imposter complex and thought that you can relate, then you’ve already the first step in acknowledging that you’re struggling with it.
2. Get real
Realize that when you’re diminishing your accomplishments, you’re being irrational. At least, accept some of your accomplishments and give the people around you some credit by knowing that they’re unlikely to be fooled.
3. Watch your language
Pay attention when you’re talking about your skills and accomplishments. Do you find yourself using words like “simply,” “just, “or, “only”? If so, you’re probably undermining yourself and your accomplishments.
Again this isn’t about being an egomaniac or taking credit for things that aren’t yours. This is about owning what you have done and accomplished out loud.
4. Accept positive feedback
When you receive positive feedback, simply accept it. Don’t attribute it to the help you got from someone else, or think of past mistakes and failures.
Assume that the person is sincere in their feedback.
#7. People Pleasing and Approval Seeking
People pleasers are typically very nice. So they do everything they can to keep everyone around them happy. They would say yes to everyone, make all the plans, do people favors, and so on.
They worry that if they say no people will judge and reject them.
While people pleasers are usually seeking approval from others, not all approval seekers are people pleasers.
Approval seekers are constantly worrying about what other people think. Their self-esteem and confidence are determined by the way they imagine others perceive them. This is where people pleasing comes in. When approval seekers make others happy, they’re in the clear for approval.
Where Does It Come From?
Every parent wants their children to be friendly and nice to people. But many of us have been taught not to say our opinions or make others feel uncomfortable and make sure the people we care about are happy.
How to Fix It?
1. Their feelings are their own
Many people find it hard to say “no”, not just because they want to please people, but they’re actually afraid of what people will think of them if they say no. They’re afraid others might feel hurt, get angry, etc.
So to avoid the “what ifs”, they simply choose to say yes.
The solution is to remind yourself that “you are not responsible for other people’s feelings.” Their feelings are their own and you have no control over them.
2. Don’t take things personally
People pleasers and approval seekers tend to take things very personally. Whether it was a passive-aggressive comment from their spouse or feedback from their colleague, they start wondering, is he mad at me? Did I do something wrong?
By taking other people’s words and actions personally, you risk falling into victim mode and making everything about you when it’s not.
At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that:
– It’s human nature to care about others and jump to the conclusion that maybe us.
– While you should blame yourself, it’s not always 100 percent the responsibility of the other person.
– When we feel hurt by someone’s words, it’s not the words that hurt but the fact that they have rubbed on a wound we already have. In other words, the words have acted as triggers to issues we already have but didn’t address before.
Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, writes, “We take things personally because it’s a habit. Not taking anything personally does not mean that you will not have a reaction or you will not take action. But when you take action you have clarity; you know exactly what you want. When you take things personally, you do things you don’t want to do, say things you don’t want to say because emotions are controlling you. When you have clarity, it is easier to make choices.”
3. Set Boundaries
There are a few misconceptions about boundaries. Boundaries are not about being combative or aggressively confront someone. They’re not ultimatums or threats.
Boundaries are what you deem acceptable and unacceptable. They’re like guidelines for your life. They’re about making what you want and need in your life as important as what the other person wants and needs. They’re also well thought and delivered in a kind way.
Saying no is uncomfortable. It takes practice and effort. But setting boundaries is necessary, not just to secure your happiness, but also to build healthy relationships.
Many people see striving to be perfect the same as succeeding and reaching goals. But perfectionism, usually, has more to do with avoiding pain or rejection or being “less than”, than simply striving for success.
Perfectionism allows shame to run the choices we make everyday and control how we behave. It makes us live in fear and we end up feeling bad ourselves.
Where Does It Come From?
Many people were handed a legacy of perfectionism by our families. The message is: unless you’re perfect, you’re not good enough and we don’t accept you.
If your family was different, perhaps you never felt the love and attention you needed, so you worked on being perfect to get others’ approval.
Tracing back to where your perfectionism started will help you challenge your beliefs and change them.
How to Fix It?
1. Challenge your beliefs
Perfectionists think that if they let go of their perfectionism, they’ll become plain lazy. The idea of stopping to be perfect means to give up on their work ethic, appearance, parenting, everything.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can still strive for excellence and greatness without aiming for perfection.
Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, explains the difference. While aiming for greatness is self-focused (How can I improve?), striving for perfectionism is other-focused (What will they think?).
In other words, this is about who you’re doing it for. Is it so you can be proud of how you did everything? Or is it so you can impress others and avoid the possibility of them criticizing or rejecting you?
2. Learn to deal with criticism
Perfectionists, generally, tend to respond defensively to critical feedback. They allow criticism to take over their entire day and more.
Instead of blaming yourself when being criticized, consider who gave the feedback? Is it a loved one? If not, you’re allowing a stranger’s opinion to dictate how you feel about yourself.
Also consider if the feedback is actually true and whether or not it’s something you can actually fix.
The point is, pay attention, get curious, and get clarity.
3. Set realistic expectations
Perfectionists tend to set long lists of goals. However, they don’t make the list for themselves. They make it for others.
Instead of focusing on their accomplishment, they tend to focus on the feelings they thought they would get when everyone knew they have accomplished their goals.
So when you set goals for yourself, ask yourself would this goal still mean as much to you if no one cared or even knew about you completing it?
#9. Keeping a Tough Exterior
We live in a culture that equated being emotional with being hesterical. Hiding our emotions became the new definition of staying strong. We constantly, try to push our emotions down as deep as we can hope that the feelings will go away.
Staying strong works – until it doesn’t. Being strong can be a good thing and serve you when you most need it. As humans, we’re born resilient. But when people tell you to be strong, they’re actually telling you not to cry too much, to the point where it gets uncomfortable for them – the audience of your pain.
But here’s the thing: it’s okay to fall apart sometimes and cry when you need to, be angrey when it comes up, and simply let the feelings wash over you. Strong doesn’t mean pushing down your emotions into the depth of your soul. Strong is about facing your feelings.
How to Fix It?
The first step to overcome the habit of avoiding your feelings is to realize when you’re engaging in them. This is when your self-talk starts telling you to “suck it up,” or, “hold your head high.”
Your inner critic is afraid of looking weak and vulnerable. But understand that this behavior isn’t going tosolve your problems you – at least not in the long run.
2. Face your feelings
Avoiding our feelings is one way we use to trick ourselves into thinking that we’re in control.
Being strong is about walking toward the neagitve emotions of sadness, grief, regret, fear, and getting curious about them and feeling them.
When feelings come up, we are faced with two options:
1. Push the feelings down. It’s still hard because it takes effort to numb our feelings.
2. Express them. This option is even harder. No one want to go down that road, crying their eyes out and experiencing pain.
The first option is easier than the second and is the familiar one. You’ve probably been behaving this way for a very long time that it became a second nature to you. But it can backfire.
The second option is the right way to “being strong”. You choose to face your feelings instead of numbing and igoring them, to ask for help instead of saying “I’m fine”.
Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.
#10. Trying to Control Everything
We like to live in certainty. Some may even argue that we’re addicted to it. This is why many of us would go to great lengths to try to control everything – including people.
The truth is there’s only so much you can control before we turn into control freaks who have little to no boundaries when it comes to knowing when to let go, delegate, and trust.
In life, if anything unexpected comes up, they become anxious and sometimes angry. At work, if they ever delegate to someone, they’ll be standing at his shoulder as they watch and comment on the task delegated.
So where is the line between being efficient at work and not controlling everything?
What’s Underneath It All?
People who struggle to let go of control are afraid of uncertainty. Many might also struggle with perfectionism. They want to make all the rules, be right and have all the answers. They want to look perfect all the time and lead perfect lives. To have this, they need to control – everything.
How to Fix It?
Letting go of control isn’t about learning how to be indifferent to everything. It’s about letting go of the need to fight, resist, and act like your life depends on you having all the control over everything and everyone.
1. Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice
Many controlling people love to give advice, most often unsolicited. Having a “no advice” policy will help you break your controlling habit.
You need to stop giving people unsolicited advice, even if you are sure they are screwing up their lives.
Most of the time, people you give advice to, don’t follow it, even if they asked for it in the first place. Just let them know that you’re there if they needed help and trust that they’ll ask for it when they need it.
2. Develop self-trust
Controlling people don’t trust their own emotions, abilities, or even instincts. They struggle with trusting themselves and other people.
When you learn to trust yourself and others, you won’t feel you have to force things to be your way. You need to know that you’ll handle whatever life throws at you – as long as you know you’ve made the right decision, at that particular time.
#11. Bracing Yourself for Catastrophe
People who tend to catastrophize would have things going well in their lives when they start thinking, “I wonder when all this is going to fall apart?”
Catastrophizers feel uncomfortable when things go really well. Instead of relaxing and enjoying the awesome stuff that’s happening, they keep rehearsing tragedies in their minds. They simply don’t know how to embrace joy.
Although, as humans, we strive for happiness and joy, many of us are too familiar with feelings of disappointment and grief, that fully embracing joy feels so uncomfortable for them.
But if we dig deeper, the underlying issue is worthiness.
Catastrophizers don’t believe that they deserve all this happiness and love in their lives.
Rejections and disappointments can stick around. So when you face the remotest possibility of feeling rejected or disappointed again, you imagine the worst scenarios.
This is a natural reaction that can prevent more pain, so don’t be too hard on yourself. But when you find yourself planning for the next disaster, check to see if you’ve been triggered by an old scar.
Gratitude is a great way to calm down your racing thoughts and enjoy the moment. Take the time to write down every day 5 things you’re grateful for. And as you go through your day, notice the small joyous moments and feel gratitude for them too. The key is to pay attention.
This will help you see your life as infinite blessings and feel more deserving for the love and joy you experience in your life.
#12. Blaming Others
Many people use blame as a self-protection mechanism. They hope that it’ll shield them from looking bad or facing their problems and taking responsibility.
But blaming holds you from tackling the real problem and facing your own issues. No matter how comfortable it feels, it keeps you stuck.
How to Fix It?
1. Take inventory
The first step is to notice the situation that makes you blame people.
You might find yourself constantly complaining about your boss to everyone, instead of having a conversation with him about it and fixing things.
Paying attention to the things you tend to complain about can show you when you blame others.
2. Focus on the solution
When we complain and blame others, we’re focusing on the problem instead of actively finding a solution. But oftentimes, finding a solution means facing your feelings and risking being vulnerable.
The solution might include things like having to set boundaries, leave a toxic relationship, feel your feelings, have an honest conversation, etc.
#13. Holding on to Unhealthy Guilt
As human beings we exist not to achieve perfection but to learn and grow.
No one can possibly know the right thing to do or say in every situation. No matter how much we learn, there will always be times when do or say the wrong thing.
Those of us who are conscientious and compassionate with themselves and with others, will feel remorseful, apologize, make amends, and move on.
Other people will get stuck with their feelings of guilt, lacking the ability to forgive themselves.
Guilt is a healthy emotion that allows us to reflect on our actions, learn, and make amends. Healthy guilt makes you aware of your accountability.
But when the intensity or duration of guilt does not fit the intensity or duration of your offense, guilt becomes unhealthy. It also becomes unhealthy when you have done nothing wrong, but distort a situation in your mind and irrationally believe that you have.
Many of us would beat themselves up over something we did or said, when the people involved quickly forgot about what happened. We end up punishing ourselves through guilt, not realizing that the only person we ever hurt was ourselves.
How to Fix It?
The following are some tips to help you release unhealthy guilt:
1. Write down everything you have carried guilty feelings for. Don’t judge the guilt, just write it down.
2. Consider the items on your list and mark everything you believe is true guilt by placing a checkmark next to it.
3. Next to each entry, write down what makes you believe you were guilty and what you can do, if anything, to fix the problem.
4. If you cannot fix the problem, affirm why the guilt does not belong to you and it is time to let it go.
Some people find it helpful to negate their guilt by sharing their kindness and compassion and volunteering or doing charity work.
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- Portions of this article were adapted from the book How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t, © 2018 by Andrea Owen. All rights reserved.
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- Codependent relationships: Symptoms, warning signs, and behavior (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Codependency of the Members of a Family of an Alcohol Addict – ScienceDirect
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