Often, people have noticed a pattern in their life, where relationships that seem ideal quickly become toxic and partners that seemed like Mr. Right soon become Mr. Impossible.
The reality for many people is that codependency is often difficult to identify.
Many codependents are professionals and very good at what they do, as long as they are able to avoid considering what is going on in their relationships.
In my book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie, (half off till Feb 18) I talk about my experiences with multiple failed, and toxic relationships and the sudden awakening I had to see that codependency was driving these unhealthy choices.
It is hard to suddenly see the truth, particularly when you are in a relationship that you are desperate to make work.
For many people, the justification for being overly involved in trying to seek approval from others is couched in terms of simply being too kind or caring. However, it can be narrowed down to codependency.
Issues that are typical negative experiences in codependency:
- Feeling isolated and alone in a relationship as the other partner seems oblivious or unwilling to meet your needs.
- Feeling an obligation to do whatever the partner wants, even if what is wanted is not something you feel or desire.
- Putting the needs of the partner above your needs in all or most situations.
- Inability to set boundaries or to say no, even if those things are against what you believe and see as right or fair.
- Feeling that saying no to the partner may end the relationship.
- Seeing yourself only as a part of a relationship and not as a unique individual.
- Pouring all of your physical, emotional and mental energy into a relationship and getting nothing in return.
Recognizing the issue is the first step, and then working with counselors and therapists to make changes is the next step on the road to recovery.
Turning the tide
There are several options or strategies that codependents can use to start to make positive changes in life. Getting out of the destructive relationship and learning how to think about ourselves and those around us is an important internal change.
Changing how we think impacts how we act, and this all starts with making the choice to bring positive energy into our lives.
1. Positive self-talk
Everyone carries on their own internal monologue.
For those with healthy self-esteem, this monologue provides encouragement, praise, and support. For those with poor self-esteem, it translates into self-nagging and self-doubts. Turning this internal talk around begins with recognizing a negative thought about self and turning it into a positive.
For example, you didn’t make a mistake, you were brave and took a chance on something new, learning new information you can use going forward.
2. Become mindful
Mindfulness is a big buzzword today, and it doesn’t mean meditating with incense or spending hours thinking in a quiet room.
Mindfulness is becoming aware of what is going on around you and in your head and noting the thought while allowing it to pass without judgment.
It is a clearing of the mind that can be done anywhere and at any time. It is learning to be non-reactive but rather to understand how we want to respond in a positive way.
3. Be who you want to be
By acting in ways that are true to who you want to be, you become that person.
By choosing actions that build self-esteem and make us feel good about ourselves, we become more comfortable in seeing ourselves as just this person.
Expressing gratitude to others, doing specific and focused kind things to help people around us, learning to say no and set boundaries and stating our own wants and needs are all a part of becoming a person with a healthy sense of self-esteem.
There are positive changes you can start to make in your life today. Mental changes are difficult, but by putting them into action,you can make an amazing difference in your life.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Sherry Gaba