Counselor and author Earnie Larsen defines codependency as “self-defeating, learned behaviors that cause a diminished capacity to initiate or participate in loving relationships. Codependent people are typically place their worth in others and only feel “full” when they communicate with the person they are codependent on. Codependency can be emotionally draining for both parties involved. The codependent person doesn’t want to be codependent, and the person being depended on loses a lot of freedom, too.
I didn’t realize quite how much as I struggle with dependency until a few months ago. A friend pointed out my reliance on others and helped me realize how it can make others feel. Since then, I’ve been on a journey to break my reliance on others so that I can be my healthiest self.
Here are three ways I’m working toward breaking my codependency:
One of the most common ways to combat codependency is to attend psychotherapy. Seeing a therapist allowed me to voice my concerns about my dependency on others. With my therapist’s help, I am creating a plan to change my behavior. My therapist provides encouragement, guidance, and reminders along the way. She reminds me that although my progress may feel slow, I’m not in a race to change myself. I personally believe that attending regular therapy sessions is one of the best tools for anyone battling codependency.
2. Communicating Openly
Openly communicating with loved ones can also help us overcome our codependency issues. Personally, I find that open communication calms my anxiety and helps me maintain accountability. When I openly communicate with important people in my life, I ensure that we’re on the same page without assuming their thoughts or feelings. These people can also help me recognize moments when I slip back into dependent behavior patterns so that we can take steps to combat them together.
3. Developing Independence
Healthy relationships balance connection and independence. Although it’s a work in progress, I’m slowly learning to trust myself more. I know that I possess the tools within myself to independently work through my everyday life. I just need to remind myself that I can manage difficult moments on my own without relying on a specific person. The more I take the time to think through situations and decide whether or not I can handle them alone, the more I develop a healthy level of independence. Some days are easier than others, and sometimes I do reach out to people, but I’m trying to remember that even slow progress is still progress.
Although I still rely on a select few people from time to time, I am taking small steps towards changing my ways. I know that breaking any pattern of behavior takes time, and my codependency is no different. If you also struggle with codependency, know that you can take steps to break the cycle for yourself, too. You can do this. I am learning to believe in myself, and I believe in you, too.