Codependency is a self-destructive disorder that is typically passed down through families. A codependent person is unable to access his or her innate self for internal cues and instead organises his or her thinking around another person, process, or substance.
1. Recognize the symptoms of codependency. There are numerous indicators. One of them is a lack of functional boundaries. People in codependent relationships interfere with others by invading emotional space, allowing others to invade theirs, and having difficulty distinguishing their own feelings, needs, and responsibilities from those of others. You realise you feel awkward not offering assistance when asked, or you are the primary provider of comfort or other support for a person close to you, or you feel pulled in many directions by those closest to you.
2. Investigate books on codependency and its effects on family and relationships. Look for information on the Internet to help you understand the causes of your relationship problems.
Codependent parents, for example, may struggle to let go of parenting and providing for their adult children, or they may rely on their grown children in unhealthy ways, reversing the parent-child dynamic. Moving away from either dynamic is a step in the right direction toward establishing healthy personal boundaries. Even if your parent claims that you are a “bad” son or daughter, this does not imply that you are.
3. The best way to get out of a codependent relationship is to focus on yourself and your health instead of the other person. When you prioritise your desire to grow, mature, and become a healthier person, your codependent relationship will change.
Be aware that doing this work will destabilise the relationship and make things more difficult before they improve. Consider yourself and the person with whom you have a codependent relationship roped together and standing on ladders next to each other. As things stand now, you’re both stabilized—you’re both on the same rungs of your ladders, and the rope around you’re both taut. You are aware of the unspoken rules that govern your interactions.
When you start getting healthy and moving up your ladder, the other person in the relationship will feel the pull of the rope and try to pull you back down, possibly even moving down her or his ladder a rung or two to get you to move back to where you were. This is completely normal. Continue your efforts to mature, grow, and become healthier. The rope has the ability to stretch.
4. Eventually, the other person will have to start getting healthier as well, or the relationship will have to be reconsidered. (And, in general, most people will choose to get healthier, making the situation less codependent.)
5. However, if the other person does not come to respect your needs and/or growth, the best option is to maintain your boundaries. Find ways to make decisions that are not influenced by their needs. In the worst-case scenario, limiting contact may be required for personal growth.
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