Overcoming Codependency in Your Relationship

Overcoming Codependency in Your Relationship

Millions of men and women today will wake up, get out of bed, and do everything in their power not to rock the boat in their relationship.

They might be dating, married, or living with a best friend… But there’s a running similarity in these relationships. They are extremely codependent, afraid to be rejected or judged by the most important people in their lives.

Below are the three most important tips to help shatter the codependent nature of love and friendship.

Get real with yourself

The first step is to become honest, maybe for the first time in your life, that you’re afraid to rock the boat. That you walk on eggshells with your lover or best friends. That your identity is wrapped up in making sure everyone likes you, and no one dislikes you.

The above are just a few definitions of the term codependency.

In 1997, I went through 52 straight weeks with a friend of mine who also is a counselor as she helped me shatter my own codependent nature. Until then, in all of my intimate relationships, if it came to me rocking the boat I would do anything and everything possible to not upset my partner. That might mean drinking more. Or escaping into work more. Or even having an affair.

You see, as a former co-dependent, I know all too well what it feels like when you want everyone to like you, love you. When you don’t want to be rejected. Judged. When you hate confrontation.

So step number one is to write down on paper the ways that you avoid confrontation with your lover and your friends. This will be a wake-up call for many. It’s the starting point of healing.

Don’t get into arguments

Once you figure out all the different ways that you avoid confrontation, back down from arguments, or don’t even get into disagreements, even when they’re called for, you can start now to do another writing exercise to help you heal.

In this step, you’re going to write out a dialogue that you would like to have with your lover or friend. You’re going to state your desire, in a very firm way, that you really don’t want to go to the party on Saturday night, because you don’t feel that it’s necessary to be going out and drinking as frequently as your partner wants to.

After you write your statement, you’re going to then write a series of justification for why you believe the way you believe.

This exercise is about getting grounded and focused so that when you have the discussion you have all of your bullets lined up in your mind of what you’re going to say to the person.

Some people even practice reading this dialogue in front of a mirror. Watch your body language. Stay strong. Don’t back down. It could take quite a bit of practice before you become comfortable in doing it in the real world. And that is OK.

Set boundaries

Learn how to set boundaries with your lover and or friends with consequences. In other words, you don’t want to just nag. You want to actually have a consequence that if they continue a behavior that is unhealthy for you, that you are going to actually pull the trigger, which is the consequence.

Here’s a great example. A number of years ago a couple started working with me because the husband had a tendency on a monthly basis to get drunk,  the last Saturday of every month. He saw no issue with it. However, his wife saw it from a different angle.

The day after getting drunk, he would sleep all day. When he awoke, he was angry with the kids and with her. For the next several days, while he battled through an intense hangover, he was irritable, impatient and downright nasty.

In our work together, I had them draw up a contract. In the contract, it said that if he drank any time over the next 90 days, that he would have to leave the house, find another apartment or home to rent for a 90 day period of time.

As you can tell, this was the consequence. For 25 years she had been telling him that if he drank one more time, she would divorce him. If he drank one more time, she wouldn’t be picking up the kids after school and it would be his responsibility to take time off from work to take care of the children. But she never pulled any of the consequences.

With the contract in hand, he broke his side of the agreement. The very next day? He moved out to an apartment. 90 days later he returned, and for the past four years, he has not had one drop of alcohol.

Take your time learning how to become a strong, independent person. Practice the above steps. I promise you, as a former co-dependent, life will be a little rocky at first, but you will regain control and your self-esteem and confidence will go through the roof. It is totally worth the effort.


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David Essel, M.S. is the best selling author of 9 books, a counselor and master life coach and inspirational speaker whose work is endorsed by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, Wayne Dyer, Kenny Loggins and Mark Victor Hansen. David accepts new clients monthly via Skype and phone sessions from anywhere.

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