Codependency is an incredibly common issue among individuals of all backgrounds. Unknowingly, it’s often easier to place the emphasis on relationships or a need for approval in our lives, rather than learning to feel content with ourselves and within our own skin. During this process, self-worth can become completely depleted, as we constantly look outside of ourselves to feel validated. Codependency can manifest in numerous ways, including a strong reliance on approval from another person, placing the happiness of someone else’s above your own well being, needing continuous validation or physical contact, or always being overly helpful or judgmental when it’s not required.
Though the challenge of overcoming codependency isn’t easy, it is possible to attain inner peace, happiness and a feeling of personal security without relying upon the approval of others. Here are some tips for healthier and more balanced living, where you can break ingrained cycles of codependency and begin to value yourself more fully.
The path toward self-acceptance begins with understanding why the need for validation is so strong. Gently recognizing that this behavior has found its way into your life as a defense mechanism or a coping strategy will help you not to beat yourself up or place too much blame on yourself. Often, this evolution of behavior stems from past experiences, and accepting that past memories that have shaped your present will enable you to gently move on from them.
Reconnecting with yourself is now where recovery begins; taking the time to be mindful and get to know yourself can begin the healing journey. Embracing the idea of self-love, rather than focusing on the need for someone else’s love can bring a perspective of calm and peacefulness. Spending time accessing your true feelings and discerning what has been suppressed is important: learning to sit with discomfort, rather than finding external means to avoid it.
Dredging up these buried emotions can be painful; however, over time, acknowledging these areas that make us human can help to truly nurture the self and a feeling of peace can be accessed. Establishing clear boundaries is also an integral part of learning to be strong and independent, so that the cycle of codependency can be prevented from repeating itself. Practicing assertiveness, both within yourself and in external relationships can start to dissolve the imbalance of codependency, since it can be difficult to feel secure if status quo, expectations and the direction which relationships are heading are unclear.
Learning to live without the need for constant reassurance enables us to focus on pursuing our own dreams and goals, without depending on if others approve or not. Doing things which elicit joy will bring up endorphins, which are naturally released from activities we find fun and pleasurable. Releasing any underlying guilt, such asthinking ‘I don’t deserve this’ or ‘I have to be responsible all of the time’ will help keep any codependent tendencies at bay.
Setting realistic standards for yourself is the key — it’s understandable to want to strive for more than your best, but remember that perfection is an illusion and a goal that can never be effectively attained. Learning to appreciate yourself and be content with who you are and how far you have come is essential; once this recognition takes place, it is obvious that no one will complete you; you are already whole.