If you have a pattern of making your relationships more important to you than you are to yourself, you may be codependent. When you are codependent, you tend to always put yourself last, constantly seek approval from others, and try to manipulate situations to your benefit.
Because the cycle of codependency often repeats itself, you can find it challenging to break the cycle without professional codependency treatment. However, even without codependency treatment, there are some things you can do to end your codependent behaviors and learn to put yourself and your needs first.
Ways to Overcome Codependency
While treatment for codependency is often needed, especially if you are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you can start working on breaking the cycle in the following ways:
- Get in tune with your needs: Though there are times when selflessness is warranted, completely ignoring your needs in order to please someone else does not qualify as selflessness. Your needs and your health, both physical and mental, should always be the priority. Get in tune with what your needs are so that you can work on putting them first. This may mean sitting down and making a list, or meditating on what you want out of your life. Once you are aware of and more focused on your own needs, it will be harder for you to ignore them and always put the needs of others first.
- Let go of bad relationships: No matter how much you care for a person, not every relationship is a good one. If you are codependent, you may often find yourself in unhealthy relationships – whether romantic or otherwise – where you are putting the needs of that person first. Let go of those relationships that cause you stress, hurt, or are emotionally neglectful and focus on your relationships with people that are mutually satisfying and that give you a sense of peace. This may be hard to recognize for people who are codependent, but taking stock of your relationships and only putting effort into the good ones can help you to break the cycle.
- Develop a healthy social life: One reason you may not want to get out of your codependent relationships could be that you fear you will be alone. Instead of relying so much on relationships to make you feel fulfilled, get involved in activities that you enjoy and be social. Volunteer with a local charity or sign up for a short-term college course. Developing an active social life is also a way of putting your needs first because you will look for activities and social settings that you, alone, enjoy.
- Do not suffer: If you are experiencing abuse, whether physical, emotional, or verbal, you should end your codependent relationship. Yes, it can sometimes be challenging to make a relationship work, but if it causes you more suffering than joy, it’s not worth it. If you don’t feel strong enough to end a destructive relationship on your own, seek the help of someone you trust or a treatment professional.
Treatment for Codependency
Even if you begin to break the cycle of codependency on your own, you will likely need to enter professional codependency treatment to get to the root of your issues, build your self-esteem, and learn healthier relationship skills.
When you enter codependency treatment, you will participate in individual and group therapy that will help you learn to put your needs first and stay away from destructive relationship patterns. With professional codependency treatment and some determination, you can successfully break the cycle and begin to have more fulfilling relationships — both with yourself and with others.