If you are naturally codependent in relationships, what do you do about it? How to outgrow your wishful thinking that taking care of someone else, even at the expense of yourself, will somehow fix your loneliness, sadness and fear.
What Does It Mean To Be Codependent In Relationships?
The first thing to do is to really understand what codependency is. We are social beings, and we need other people around us to love and be loved by. This is such a normal, natural thing. Of course, you want to be able to depend on other people.
When does this become codependency, instead of healthy dependency? When you start to take care of someone else at the expense of yourself, you know you’re in dangerous territory. You are codependent in relationships.
You might start thinking that you must fix the situation, then it will be ok. Then things will go back to being loving again. Wanting to be loved and taken care of so badly that you will put up with bad behavior is a big part of being codependent.
You might be so afraid of being alone that you will try to make it all ok. You get so focused on meeting your partner’s needs that you ignore your own. You might not realize that they aren’t meeting your needs.
This is part of wishful thinking, hoping that if you ignore yourself, your needs will be met. Or thinking that you can control things. So, you stop setting boundaries and over focus on controlling others.
Focus on yourself and pursuing interests and goals of your own. Developing yourself as a person is important when you’re trying to stop being codependent in relationships.
Childhood Abandonment, Neglect and Abuse
Once you start to understand how you are codependent in relationships, you can then start to think about how this started. This means understanding what you learned growing up and how it has shaped your understanding of how a relationship works.
You might have learned that the way to get attention and love was to take care of your parent or caretaker. If I take care of them, they will pay attention to me. If I don’t figure out how to get attention, I will be lonely and sad. Your caregivers might have been unable to prioritize you and your needs—many times in spite of good intentions.
It is extremely detrimental to a child to be neglected or abused. Love and care are absolutely imperative for children to thrive. As a result, a child will do anything to get the attention they need to survive.
Childhood Caretaking Repeats In Adulthood
A childhood spent taking care of your parent can set you up for falling into care taking in adulthood. You might think that it’s the only way to get love, since that was true growing up. Sometimes children try to get attention, to no avail.
When something starts when you are so young, it is very hard to stop it. Caretaking and fixing is a way that you covered up your own loneliness and fear of not being worthy of love. This is a feeling at your very core that you aren’t lovable. A feeling you run away from by continuing to be codependent.
Children assume that it’s their fault that they aren’t getting the love they need. As an adult, it’s important not to blame yourself. If your caretakers had a difficult time loving you the way you needed, this is not your fault.
Common Fears If You Are Codependent In Relationships
Fear of disappointing someone or of being disliked are common issues for codependents. You may not like this possibility, but you can practice tolerating it without fixing it. Instead of trying to control others, spend your time and energy connecting with our own feelings, needs, wants and value system.
Other people will figure it out for themselves once they know what your boundaries are. Let them deal with their own challenges, and you can focus on your own.
You will also have the added payoff of giving others the message that they are resourceful and can take care of themselves, too. Others are capable of solving their own problems, and as you do that more and more, you build self esteem and self worth. You are saying “I know you can do it on your own” and “You are strong!”.
Worrying about what others think can really be debilitating. Remember that you can’t control what others think. It is wishful thinking to expect that you will get your needs met this way.
It’s so easy to burn yourself out by over extending yourself. If you make a mistake, give yourself a break. You do not have to be perfect to be loved. Realizing this can help you learn not to be codependent in relationships.
If you feel resentful, frustrated, taken advantage of or unfulfilled, it’s time to explore what you like, what’s important to you and what your personal goals are. Time to discover and take care of yourself.
You’re probably afraid of being criticized, rejected and abandoned if you focus on yourself. But, overly focusing on others and losing touch with yourself is a way that you abandon and reject yourself. You do to yourself what you are most afraid of others doing to you.
Breaking The Patterns Of Being Codependent In Relationships
Being able to break this pattern, and realize you aren’t getting the love you want, is one goal of stopping codependency in relationships. You can start to realize that you are taking of care of someone and trying to please them despite their bad behavior towards you.
Here are some positive affirmations to try:
- I can say no and still be a good person.
- I value myself, regardless of what others think.
- I can do what is right for me.
- I do not have to be perfect to be lovable.
- I can’t control other people, I can only control how I react.
- I deserve the same love and kindness that I give to others.
- I can have my own opinions, ideas, values and goals.
- I am a unique person, deserving of love and care.
You may have experienced love bombing when you first meet someone. The person showers you with so much attention, promising you the world.
At this point, you can start to notice your own wishful thinking that this person will cure all you loneliness and finally satisfy your need for connection. Notice that this might just be love bombing, and this person doesn’t know you well enough yet to promise you their total devotion. It’s too much, too soon.
Sometimes love bombing can happen to suck you back in after you’ve been treated badly. Again, watch out for your wishful thinking that everything will now be ok. You do not need to allow someone to treat you terribly.
You stay in the relationship because you want it to go back to how it was when they were attentive and caring toward you. Back to when they were love bombing. A pattern of inconsistent reward has been created.
Inconsistent Love Is Addictive
It turns out that inconsistent love becomes very addictive. You keep hoping that things will be better, and every once in a while, it does get a bit better. You keep waiting for things to change more permanently, way past when it would be reasonable to expect positive change.
This is like gambling. You might win and get your partner’s love one time out of twenty. Then the next time you get love one time in thirty seven. And then one time in three. You just never know.
Inconsistent love keeps hope alive and sets you up for putting up with way too much negative behavior. It keeps you codependent in relationships.
Tolerating Difficult Feelings
It’s so hard to tolerate those powerful feelings of unworthiness and shame that come up when you work on not being codependent in relationships. Part of recovery is to slowly learn to feel your feelings and reclaim your sense of self.
EMDR And Neurofeedback
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Neurofeedback can both help with the process of coming to terms with what you’ve gone through and dealing with the difficult feelings involved. I can help you navigate and reprocess the loneliness, fear, and shame that is often lurking below the surface of being codependent in relationships.
Putting effort into helping yourself, instead of someone else, takes time and care. Self compassion is so important during this time. As you work on not being codependent in relationships, be kind to yourself.
If you are interested in strengthening your healthy relationship skills and feelings of self worth, please contact me. My email in firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 310-314-6933.