Codependency, Divorce/Breakup

Healing From A Codependent Relationship: 18 Ways to Conquer Codependency

Codependents and emotional manipulators have always been irresistibly drawn together into dysfunctional relationships.

The relationship begins as a seductive dreamlike state, only to unfold later into a mixed state of love, pain, hope, and disappointment.

Your “perfect” lover transforms into someone you barely recognize.

Their once attractive, alluring traits are replaced by self-centered and selfish demeanor.

The relationship is likely short-lived and highly disappointing.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to heal from a codependent relationship, and start enjoying healthy relationships.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Self-Orientation Continuum

We all fit somewhere on the continuum of self-orientation.

Self-orientation is defined as the manner in which we love and care for ourselves and other people in a relationship.

When we are more concerned with the needs of others, while placing little importance on our needs, we have an “others” self-orientation.

On the other hand, we have a “self” self-orientation when we place more importance on having our own needs fulfilled, while ignoring the needs of other people.

Codependency and emotional manipulation disorders are two opposite personality types that exist on the extremes of the self-orientation continuum.

What Is Codependency?

The Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines codependency as: “A psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition.”

In other words, codependency is a disorder of selflessness, passivity, and personal powerlessness.

Codependents are naturally giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of others.

They repeatedly find themselves attracted to partners who are a perfect counter-match to their uniquely passive and submissive attitude.

Codependents confuse caretaking with love. Their role as the martyr who is endlessly devoted and loving is an extension of their yearning to be loved and cared for as children.

They yearn to be loved, but because of their chosen partner, they habitually end up feeling unappreciated and used.

Although they are unhappy, they pretend to enjoy the relationship, while harboring feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness.

They are also convinced that they will never find someone who will love them for who they are. Their low self-esteem manifests itself into a form of learned helplessness that keeps them stuck with their emotional manipulator partner.

They believe that being alone is the equivalent of feeling lonely, and loneliness is too painful for them to bear.

Codependency is not equally intense with everyone.

For some people, codependency is integrated into the relationship without constituting a real problem. For other people, codependency becomes very often an out of control issue and attracts toxic people.

What Codependency Is Not

Some people are labeled “codependent” simply because they are taking care of a sick relative or helping someone.

Codependency is about the act of taking care of someone. It’s about the motive behind the act.

Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulators (someone who is diagnosed with: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), or chemical or behavioral addiction) are self-absorbed and boldly selfish.

Although emotional manipulation disorders are distinctly different from one another, they all share a narcissistic attitude – entitlement and self-consumption.

Addiction, despite not being an underlying psychological disturbance, can be responsible for psychopathological or dysfunctional behavior, compelling addicts to behave similarly to any of the three emotional manipulation personality disorders.

The emotional manipulator, like the codependent, is attracted to a partner who feels perfect to them – someone who allows them to control and lead, while making them feel powerful and appreciated. Someone who lacks self-worth, confidence, and who has low self-esteem – codependents.

Dysfunctional Relationship

All parents, whether they are psychologically healthy or unhealthy, provide through their treatment, an automatic relationship guide for their children’s future relationships.

A person, who was deprived of unconditional love during their childhood, especially during the first five to six years, will likely grow up to be codependent and be drawn to a narcissistic partner.

The magnetic power of this dysfunctional relationship keeps these seemingly opposite partners together despite their pain and hopes of changing each other.

Codependents are naturally drawn to emotional manipulators. They feel comfortable and familiar with a person who knows how to control and lead.

Conversely, emotional manipulators are drawn to codependent partners because they allow them to feel secure, in control, and dominant in a way that brings them much attention and praise.

Can you heal from codependency?

Although the broken relationship guide received from their parents may seem permanent, as humans, we have remarkable transformative potential.

We are capable of healing and rising above the seemingly indisputable impact of our childhood.

Psychotherapy, 12-step recovery program, and a change of lifestyle can make it possible for the codependent to build (repair) their tattered self-esteem and begin to enjoy love, reciprocity, and mutuality.

Are You Codependent? 8 Signs of Codependency

1. You Focus Your Life on Others

Your attention is directed towards others; thinking about them, anticipating their needs, thoughts, and judgments, and doing everything to adapt your lifestyle based on their needs.

The intrinsic deal is: “I give you my help and love and you give me your closeness to make a stable relationship.”

As a result, the distance of the partner is experienced with real pain and frustration. This only pushes the codependent to increase their effort in order to avoid any risk of losing a relationship. This pushes away healthy people but attracts manipulators.

2. Your Partner’s Needs Are…Too Important

You are willing to meet your partner’s needs, even if you have to deny your own needs.

In the most extreme cases, this type of caretaking results in conduct named the “Savior Complex” — That is, the unsolicited help of someone who insists on giving it to you.

However, this giving isn’t as selfless as it seems. In general, if we give a lot, we expect to receive a lot.

In exchange, the codependent expects closeness and a stable relationship. If it does not happen, the codependent is left in painful frustration.

3. You Seek Happiness Outside of Yourself

The question “What is happiness?” may be difficult to answer, but for most codependents, the answer is “I’m happy if you are happy.”

Other people’s happiness gives meaning to the codependent. As a result, they don’t spend much time and energy on understanding how to achieve happiness and fulfillment.

Falling in love can make the codependent feel really happy. It’s an ideal situation where they can finally feel in the right to concentrate on a person without the risk of being criticized about it.

4. Your Boundaries Are Not Clear

In the codependent relationship, the concept of boundaries is ambiguous and unclear.

In fact, according to the codependent logic, boundaries must not exist at all, given that their happiness and sadness are based on how the other person feels. They worry about the problems of others and take it as their responsibility to fix them.

5. Your Unhappiness Is Different

For codependents, unhappiness in others is translated into an element that attracts them. It gives them a noble reason to be together and take care of those who suffer from it.

However, when the codependent is experiencing unhappiness, the reaction is completely different.

Unhappiness is experienced as an unforgivable distraction from what is happening in others and from what they perceive as their main mission in life: living for others and through others.

As a result, the codependent would diminish their sadness in a way that makes it less important to deal with and resolve. This is usually done by blaming the other person. So the focus of attention shifts from their unhappiness to the actions of others, in a way that makes the other person always responsible for their emotional state.

6. You Are Empathetic

The codependent’s empathy leads them to immediately identify the difficult situations the people around them are going through.

The codependent would use this to be with others and ensure that they are not left alone.

7. Your Relationships Trigger Anxiety And Depression

The codependent experiences recurring fear of loss, abandonment, and detachment.

These fears usually trigger anxiety and depression.

8. The Esteem And Love of Others Are More Important Than Self-Esteem And Self-Love

In the codependent’s mindset, self-esteem and self-love equal conflict that may put risks into the relationship.

As a result, the codependent doesn’t really like winning in a conflict as it possibly will damage the self-esteem of another person. Instead, they would manage conflicts in more indirect and subtle ways, such as passive-aggressiveness.

Unfortunately, such behaviors are a dysfunctional way to manage conflicts and repressed anger and can affect both the victim and the abuser.

Fortunately, the symptoms of codependency are reversible. It requires commitment, work, and support.

signs of codependency

Healing From A Codependent Relationship

#1. Examine Your Last Relationship

Consider your last relationship, and ask yourself the following questions:

Why was I drawn to this person in the first place?

Did I ignore the red flags?

Did I give away my power and sense of self-worth to this person? Why?

We often are shocked when a relationship ends, or when a partner cheats on us, but when digging deeper, we usually discover it was not all that shocking.

There were signs, gut feeling, overstepping of boundaries, and a trail of red flags indicating that something wasn’t right but we chose to ignore them.

Only when the relationship crashes do we finally pay attention to the signs and admit that things didn’t and haven’t been working for a long while.

It’s up to us to decide if we want to heal from codependency and say “enough is enough,” “I want to feel good with the people I love and respect” and “I am no longer available for toxic relationships.”

Most of the time, deciding to heal occurs when our suffering and anger outweigh the fear of being abandoned.

#2. Connect With Yourself

Before connecting with others, you must first connect with yourself.

Connecting with yourself is about becoming someone who is centered and less likely to be distracted easily by what’s happening around him.

Spending time with yourself doesn’t mean doing an activity alone like reading or watching TV. It means focusing on what’s going on inside, getting to know yourself, and discovering rich and nourishing inner resources.

Some of the best techniques that will help you connect with yourself are meditation, spending time alone, and journaling.

Related: How To Overcome Solitude Phobia: 4 Ways To Get Comfortable Spending Time alone

1. Practice Meditation

Meditation helps you find balance and inner peace. It’s especially helpful to manage your day-to-day stress. It helps you control your mind and emotions.

2. Spend Time With Yourself

Spending a few minutes every day in your own company, is another way to connect with yourself.

Getting to know someone requires time together.

You have to commit to spending more time alone to become friends with yourself so that later when you’re around others you can check in with yourself and not get lost in someone else.

This could be part of your meditation sessions, or it could be done as part of your self-care routine.

3. Daily journaling

Writing your feelings and thoughts in a journal helps you connect with your inner self.

You can also use prompts to help you begin like:

  • “Right now I’m feeling . . . because . . .”
  • “If I could talk to my younger self, I would say …”
  • “For me self-love means…”
  • Things I can do to help my mental health are…”
  • “What do I like most (and least) about myself?”
  • “What excites me the most?”
  • “What nourishes me most?”
  • “What was my most painful experience? Did I learn from it?”
  • “What was the biggest challenge I overcame? What did I learn?”

Related: 72 Journal Prompts For Self-Discovery and Self Connection

#3. Develop Self-Awareness

Start paying attention to your internal experience throughout the day.

See if you can notice how you feel while someone is talking to you.

  • Do you silently blame or criticize yourself or others?
  • How often do you agree when you don’t know?
  • Do you talk to fill an uncomfortable silence?
  • Do you ask questions instead of talking about yourself?
  • Do you apologize often?
  • Do you deflect compliments?

This should be done with an attitude of curiosity, without judging yourself.

Listen to your body and the internal emotional information it can provide.

Try sitting quietly. Take deep, relaxing breaths and bring your awareness into your belly or heart.

Notice what’s going on. Notice the temperature, color, sounds, and movements. You can focus on an issue in your life and notice your bodily sensations around it.

Related: 6 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness Throughout The Day (and Find Your Inner Peace)

#4. Build Your Emotional Vocabulary

Your feelings are part of your internal feedback system. They’re your compass in life so it’s important to pay attention and listen to them.

Emotional intelligence includes being aware of your emotions, feeling, naming, and expressing them.

Anxiety, guilt, and worry are milder forms of fear. Jealousy can be a combination of anger and fear. See how many feelings you can identify.

list of emotions

#5. Honor Your Feelings

Although feelings aren’t logical and may sometimes seem irrational, there’s usually a good reason for them.

Ignoring your feelings will most likely intensify them.

Acknowledging your feelings doesn’t mean you need to base your decisions on how you feel, you can allow yourself to feel sad while doing the things you have to do.

Honoring your feelings means responsibility for them, without blaming others. No one makes you feel something without your consent.

Positive beliefs about your feelings:

  • I have a right to feel my feelings.
  • No one can tell me what I “should” feel, even me.
  • I don’t have to defend my feelings.
  • All my feelings are okay, even anxiety and painful feelings.
  • Allowing myself to feel my emotions is healthy.
  • My feelings are a valuable feedback about what’s happening in my world.
  • What I’m feeling will eventually pass.

Related: 6 Simple Ways to Manage Difficult Emotions and Control Them

#6. Change Your Limiting Beliefs

In order to create lasting change, you need to change your beliefs, not just your environment or your behavior.

You can move to another city, delay replying to texts so you won’t appear too desperate, but you don’t change your beliefs, any change you make won’t be sustainable.

When you shift your beliefs, an automatic ripple effect to the outer aspects of behavior and environment is created.

You might not notice the results in a week or a month, but consistent practice over time will lead to significant transformation.

1. Becomes Aware of Your Negative Beliefs

The following is a list of negative beliefs you may have:

  • “I have no value on my own therefore I shouldn’t exist for myself.”
  • “My value comes from the people who agree to stay by my side in exchange for my dedication to them.”
  • “I must be constantly present in the lives of the people who are important to me in order to ensure prominent place in their lives.”
  • “The only thing that matters is having people’s affection and acceptance, in exchange I’m willing to give my love and help without any reservations if required.”
  • “I have to fill you with love, if I don’t, you will abandon me.”

If you find it hard to convince yourself that these are negative beliefs, consider the people that left you because they perceived your love as dense and complicated and the times you felt betrayed by people whom you considered ungrateful.

2. Create Positive Beliefs to Replace Your Old Ones

The best way to change your beliefs is to create affirmations that, when repeated day in and day out, will replace your old beliefs.

Examples of these affirmations:

I’m worthy and lovable the way I am.

I’m good enough.

I prioritize my own needs first.

3. Positive Affirmations Alone Aren’t Enough

Change happens when thoughts and behavior are in alignment.

It’s not enough to affirm to yourself that you’re worthy, you need to treat yourself as if you’re worthy. You need to start taking care of yourself and prioritizing your own needs.

You change by turning your belief into experience.

Related: 10 Powerful Techniques To Control Your Negative Thoughts

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#7. Identify Your Basic Emotional Needs

Your previous relationships can also provide insight into what your needs are.

When you identify your own basic emotional needs and work on meeting them, you will likely engage in relationships that are complementary and supportive of where you are.

This doesn’t mean that you need to meet your needs by yourself. It simply means that you need to take responsibility for these needs and acknowledge that you are your own primary caregiver and must meet your own needs as much as you are able.

This is done through self-care, and compassionately treating yourself, especially when you make mistakes and feel inadequate. This also means setting healthy boundaries with others and practicing being assertive enough to say no when you need to.

Common Emotional Needs Include:

Acceptance, affection, appreciation, belonging, closeness, communication, community, companionship, compassion, consideration, consistency, cooperation, empathy, inclusion, intimacy, love, mutuality, nurturing, respect/self-respect, safety, security, stability, support, trust, warmth

For example:

Need: connection

I can get my need for connection met by

* Incorporating a daily mindfulness practice (connection with self).

* Having lunch with a friend once a week (connection with friends).

* Performing at least one act of kindness each day (connection with the community).

We all have needs, and each person’s needs are personal and based on their history. These needs are also fluid and may shift depending on your life stage. So make sure you regularly check-in with your needs.

This way connecting with others will come from a place of wholeness, not starvation and lack.

Related: Healing The Mother Wounds: 9 Powerful Ways To Heal Your Inner Child

#8. Define Your Priorities and Values in Life

Take some time to define what components you’d like to include in your life.

Whether it was personal growth, friends, leisure, work… make a list of these components and visualize what you would like each part of your life to look like. Then list the things you should be doing in order to make that visualization a reality.

If you take the personal growth area, you might see yourself reading books, attending workshops and seminars, taking a class… take action on it, and being by adding these tasks in your calendar.

If you find yourself at a workshop not being able to concentrate and overcome by the wish you were with your ex, don’t let it weaken your commitment and affirm to yourself that you’re here to learn!

Slowly but surely, the neediness will disappear, and the task at hand will become more enjoyable.

If you take the area of friends, visualize yourself inviting them over dinner or having a terrific evening out.

Pick the phone and arrange with them to hang out. With enough commitment, you’ll soon let go of wishing you were with your ex and start building healthy relationships.

Try This

To identify your values, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What makes you the angriest about things in the world?
  • Which organizations or charities do you, or would you, support?
  • What mentors or public figures do you respect or admire? Why?
  • Which religious beliefs do you agree and disagree with? Why?

List of positive characteristics and values

Appreciation of others · Artistic ability · Awareness of environment · Assertiveness · Balance · Being part of a community · Being in a team · Capacity to change and develop · Chilling out · Collaborating with others · Connecting with people · Creativity · Excitement · Financial management · Family commitment · Freedom · Friendship · Fun · Generosity · Helping others · Honesty · Honour · Humour · Independence · Individuality · Intelligence · Integrity · Intimacy · Kindness · Learning from experience · Looking after myself · Love · Musical ability · Networking · Not taking myself too seriously · Organizational skills · Physical health · Physical fitness · Relaxed approach and attitude · Reliability · Religious lifestyle · Risk-taking · Self-awareness · Self-expression · Sensuality · Sexuality · Sharing · Solitude · Social conscience · Standing up for rights · Spirituality · Stability · Success · Understanding

#9. Create Goals For Yourself

For each area of your life, create specific goals that will help you maintain these components of your life.

You may not be able to cover each area every day. An important work project might take much of your time.

The goal is to have an overall balance, so you won’t find yourself dependent on one single area of your life.

Some people, despite having many things in their lives, only have one area that means everything to them. Make sure that you’re fully committed to every area of your life.

In other words, consciously, give everything you’ve got to each area of your life.

Related: 7 Proven Ways to Set Goals and Achieve Them

#10. Dealing with Feelings of Shame

Shame exists on a spectrum, with healthy shame at one end and toxic shame at the other.

Healthy shame is saying, “I did something bad.” Toxic shame, on the other hand, is saying, “I am bad.”

Toxic shame can be physically paralyzing and mentally lethal.

The best way to deal with feelings of shame is to have compassion for yourself instead of self-punishing, and to allow yourself to be vulnerable with a safe person.

How to be compassionate towards yourself?

Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend.

When you catch yourself judging and criticizing yourself, acknowledge that this is your inner self-critic at play, and challenge that voice with more compassionate self-talk.

When you first practice self-compassion, it might feel unnatural. It’s unlikely to generate feelings of warmth, but that’s a sign that you need more practice.

Sharing your difficult feelings with a safe person and experiencing empathy help reduce feelings of shame.

Related: 10 Signs You Were Shamed In Childhood

#11. Raise Your Self-Esteem

You get to choose focus on what puts you down or on what lifts you up.

Stop waiting for others for recognition and praise and start giving yourself that. In fact, your own acknowledgment and praise will last more than that which you receive from others.

Make a list of your successes, even the seemingly small ones. This will back up your positive affirmations.

Praise yourself as you would praise a friend.

Related: Raising low self-esteem: 18 Ways to Build High Self-Esteem

#12. Practice Self-love

Loving is a combination of an attitude of acceptance and compassion and acting lovingly toward yourself.

Many people share the misconception that self-love is egotism or narcissism, but narcissists actually loathe themselves. Their ego is compensation for a lack of self-love.

Nor does self-love take away from your ability to love others. In fact, the more you love yourself, the more able you are to love others and allow yourself to receive their love.

Notice when you’re having negative thoughts about yourself and try to treat yourself with compassion.

Notice when you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted and find ways to care for yourself.

Practicing a self-care activity for 10 minutes a day is a good start.

Related: How to Start Loving Yourself Again? 7 Ways to Start Self Love Journey

#13. Express and Assert Yourself

Once you identified your feelings, values, and needs, the next step is to express and assert yourself.

Assertive communication is about clearly and politely stating what you think, feel, need, or want. You can also explain why.

Assertive communication is respectful, direct, and nondefensive.

Communicating feelings

Many people confuse thoughts and feelings in speaking.

For example, when a friend is late to a meeting, telling him, “I feel you were inconsiderate” is not an expression of your feelings. It judges his behavior without telling him how his behavior affected you.

The rule is: if you can substitute the word “feel” for “think,” then you’ve expressed a thought, which is often a judgment about the other person.

Instead, try saying, “I felt hurt (or “disregarded”) when you didn’t show up on time.”

The more vulnerable you are in expressing your feelings, the more receptive your listener will be.

Communicating needs

Communicating your needs can be frightening, especially when you’re not used to it.

Many codependents believe that should be able to instinctively know and anticipate their needs, and if they ask for it, they may devalue it, saying, “It doesn’t count because I had to tell you.”

Start practicing asserting your needs, by saying something like, “It’s important to me that you __,” or, “I’d really appreciate it if you __.”

You may also let the person know the positive effect of meeting your need, “If you __, it would make me feel closer to you.”

Related: How to Be More Effective in Relationships (Effective Communication)

How to Let Go of Codependent Attachment?

Codependents become overly attached — not out of love but out of need. They need the other person to be a certain way so that you can feel okay.

Change occurs when you take an honest look at your codependency patterns of controlling, reacting, and worrying.

Why Codependent Attachment Is an Issue?

While it’s normal and healthy to get attached to a family member or a romantic partner, the codependent attachment is excessive and causes them pain.

Boundaries in a codependent relationship are blurred. The other person’s opinions and feelings have a great influence on the codependent’s opinions and feelings.

If you’re codependent, you may find yourself unable to be happy when the other person isn’t happy, or worrying about the other person’s problems.

What Nonattachment Look Like

Nonattachment or detachment as Al-Anon and Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) call it is the antidote to codependent attachment.

When you’re nonattached, you don’t control or obsess about the other person. Instead, you show compassion and give support.

You have no need to change other people but are respectful of differing points of view.

You honor their need for space and you are able to enjoy your time alone.

Nonattachment doesn’t take away your feelings and concern but channels them in a healthy, more compassionate, and loving way.

The key to nonattachment is honoring the other person’s separateness.

This could be done through:

  1. Setting appropriate boundaries
  2. Letting go of unreasonable expectations
  3. Accepting reality
  4. Focusing on yourself

#14. Start Setting Healthy Emotional Boundaries

Boundaries are an expression of self-esteem and self-love. They define where you end and others begin, protecting you from others and preventing you from violating others’ boundaries.

If you didn’t learn how to set boundaries growing up or if your parents invaded boundaries, you might feel uncomfortable setting boundaries now.

When your emotional boundaries are poor, you take on more than 50 percent of the responsibility in a relationship and you probably still blame yourself when that doesn’t work.

You also lack boundaries when you blame or tell others what they should do or make someone responsible for how you feel, denying the separateness between you.

Setting healthy boundaries begins with getting to know yourself, your feelings, and your needs, and asserting them.

What Are Your Responsibilities?

You’re responsible for your own feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and the consequences of these behaviors – other people are responsible for theirs.

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean you have to blame yourself, nor does it make you a bad person. Taking responsibility is about admitting and acknowledging that “I did or said” something.

Try This

1. Make a list of the things for which you feel responsible, including your family and work responsibilities.

2. If you’re taking responsibility for other people’s chores, or there is an imbalance that you resent, talk to those individuals about assuming responsibility for themselves.

3. Review your list of basic emotional needs. For each need, write down a plan of action you can take for meeting your needs.

Related: How to Firmly Establish and Enforce Healthy Emotional Boundaries?

what healthy emotional boundaries sound like

#15. Let Go of Unreasonable Expectations

Having expectations can be a major source of pain in a relationship.

Having an agenda about how your partner should behave or the kind of person you want them to become will likely cause disappointment and resentment.

Ask yourself “Are my expectations reasonable?”

To answer that question, consider whether the person is actually capable and willing to meet your expectations.

Were your expectations met in the past? If not, what does this tell you about the other person and about yourself?

If you clearly and repeatedly communicated your desires, it’s unreasonable that more requests or nagging will get the person to change.

What expectations could be considered as reasonable?

It’s reasonable that each person in the relationship meets their own responsibilities. It’s also reasonable to be treated respectfully.

And while it’s reasonable to look for someone compatible with you and who meets your criteria, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to change in order to meet those criteria.

#16. Accept Reality

If you tend to have fantasies about how you’d like your partner or the relationship to change, then you probably are denying your reality and are trying to escape your unhappiness by living in the future.

Accepting your reality is a process that begins with awareness.

Notice your behavior and see if it’s achieving the results you want, or is actually counterproductive.

Understanding acceptance

Acceptance is about acknowledging what is.

Acceptance is about taking charge of your life and responsibilities.

It’s not resignation or passiveness and it doesn’t mean you like or approve of the facts. Acceptance is simply acknowledging that these facts exist.

Why you need to start accepting reality?

Before you can change anything, you need to accept that it exists in your life. The alternative to acceptance is denial, which puts you in a position of being a helpless victim.

How do you practice acceptance?

The first thing you need to do is to come to terms with the fact that you’re powerless when it comes to other people and how they choose to behave and that the only person you can change is yourself.

Once you take responsibility for yourself, you can figure out the effective action you can take.

Related: Overcome Suffering In Your Own Way: 4 Keys To Relieve Suffering

#17. Focus On Yourself

The best way to stay nonattached to someone else is to focus on yourself and set time to spend time alone, pursuing interests and hobbies that nurture and stimulate you.

This will raise your self-esteem, help you define correct boundaries, and discover what gives you joy and fulfillment.

#18. Confronting Emotional Abuse

We only accept a little less abuse from others than we accept from ourselves.

The more you raise your self-esteem, the better you’ll get at detecting abuse and confronting it.

Emotional abuse is a manipulative tactic the abuser uses to control you. If you focus on the content of the conversation, you’ll end up falling into the trap of trying to explain yourself and responding rationally – you lose.

Instead, address the abuse first. Notice the abuser’s tactics and notice your feelings at these times.

Remind yourself that you’re entitled to more respect and practice saying “No” and setting limits.

Avoid defending or explaining yourself. Instead, try the following:

  • Ask for clarifications. “Would you please explain what you mean when you say _ .”
  • State your feelings. “I feel hurt when you call me name.”
  • Set boundaries. “You’re entitled to your opinion, but I don’t see it that way.”
  • Be direct and firm. “Don’t talk to me that way,” “Don’t use that tone with me.”

Related: How to Overcome Effects of Emotional Abuse? (and Heal Them)

Change Is a Process

When you begin your healing and change process, expect things to get worse before they get better.

When you stop avoiding and numbing your feelings and start facing them, you begin to feel the pain or shame that your dysfunctional behavior was protecting you from.

But if you can sit with that pain and tolerate those raw feelings and process them in a healthy way, you will no longer need the dysfunctional behavior and you will be able to enjoy a healthier relationship not just with other people, but most importantly with yourself.

Relapse is an inevitable part of that process. Don’t let the relapse hijack your self-confidence. Instead, use self-compassion to get yourself back on your feet.

Think of progress as climbing a mountain. Often times you feel that you’re in the same place you started – it’s the same view, but the truth is you’ve climbed higher and came so far.


Is Codependency a Disease?

That codependency is a disease that was first suggested in 1988 by psychiatrist Timmen Cermak.

Although Disease may sound morbid, codependency is only a condition with progressive symptoms that impair normal functioning.

Alcoholism was termed a disease in 1991 by the American Medical Association (AMA) along with drug dependencies.

Since then, experts have applied the medical model of disease to sex, food, and gambling addictions, and also codependency.

Does Codependency Affect Physical Health?

A growing number of studies has shown that poor mental health can be a risk factor for ill health and chronic illness. (*)

The chronic stress of codependency can wear down the body’s immune and nervous systems and cause health problems, including heart disease, digestive, and sleep disorders, muscle tension and pain, ulcers, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency is a survival mechanism used by the child in response to abuse, neglect, or inconsistently applied rules.

Codependency helps the child get the love he needs feeling responsible for others’ happiness and learn what it takes to always please others.

While these beliefs and behaviors may have helped the child survive and make life more bearable, as an adult, these survival strategies become counterproductive – They need to be upgraded or completely changed.

How Taking Care of Someone Can Be An Issue?

While there is nothing wrong with taking care of each other within relationships, caretaking becomes problematic when it is used as a means to control a relationship and get the love and attention we crave.

Codependent relationships are based on the need to be together rather than on the will or pleasure of being together.

Caretaking vs. caregiving

Caregiving comes from abundance. It gives freely.

Caretaking, on the other hand, comes from need and deprivation. It comes with strings attached.

With codependency, there may be more “taking” than giving.

What a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

Perhaps no one will ever be able to give the perfect definition of a healthy relationship, because even love and relationships are not perfect.

But in a healthy relationship, you enjoy the joy and pleasure of being together without having the need to “cling” to one other.

When we choose to love only for the shared pleasure this means we choose to love ourselves first, in our totality, not just the part that we like.

Should Love Be Conditioned Or Unconditional?

The answer depends on who is our love for.

Healthy love between adults must be selfless but conditioned on mutual love.

This means you give love to receive love, rather than giving your love to receive attention or dignity.

Our children, not being able to return our love consciously, they have the right to take for themselves all the unconditional love that we can transmit to them, without having anything in return but to make them grow healthy.

How Does Healthy Caregiving Looks Like?

Healthy caregiving is when you respect others’ boundaries and separateness and offer support without an urge to fix their problems, realizing that it’s not your job to change their lives and trusting that they can fix their problems and deal with their pain.

When you give, you give freely, without expectations or strings attached.

What’s Next? Raising low self-esteem: 18 Ways to Build High Self-Esteem

Healing From A Codependent Relationship: 4 Ways to Conquer Codependency

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codependency Healing From A Codependent Relationship 18 Ways to Conquer Codependency


  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book Breakup Bootcamp: The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, © 2020 by Amy Chan. All rights reserved.
  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People who Hurt Us, © 2013 by Ross Rosenberg. All rights reserved.
  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book Codependency For Dummies, © 2012 by Darlene Lancer. All rights reserved.


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