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Are You Codependent?

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Do you find you accept responsibility for a loved one’s emotions or actions? Are you constantly
trying to please others? Do you neglect your own needs and have difficulty setting realistic
personal boundaries? Do you often feel resentful, yet have difficulty stepping away from a
dysfunctional relationship?

These are some of the signs of being codependent with others. Codependent people look for
external cues from others to tell them how they should feel, behave, think, and so on. While most would agree that sensitivity to others is a admirable trait, codependent individuals tend to take that to an extreme because of an inability, or lack of desire, to create healthy boundaries.
Healthy boundaries are important. They draw a line of distinction and responsibility between our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and those thoughts, feelings and behaviors of others.

While it may take time to break lifelong patterns of codependency, there are things you can do
to overcome it.

1. Recognize Denial
The first step to changing our behavioral is to be honest with ourselves, and acknowledge the
problem. There is a very good chance you have rationalized your codependence over time, and
while it can be intimidating to admit to being involved in an unhealthy relationship, honesty is the first step towards your healing.

2. Learning from Your Past
The next step on your path to recovery is to take a look at your family history to uncover
experiences that may have contributed to your codependency. Were there events early in your life that led to you to developing codependent tendencies? This can be a difficult process and one that involves reliving childhood emotions. Working with a trained counselor can help provide a safe place to work through these memories.

3. Switch Your Focus
In order to truly work on ourselves, we first must detach from that which may be occupying our thoughts. For those who are codependent, this would likely involve giving up the over-involvement or preoccupation with trying to change, control or please someone else. Switching your focus to your own self-growth will mean letting go and acknowledging we cannot fix problems that are not ours to fix.

4. Learn Self-Care
Learning self-care is absolutely essential in the path to prioritizing your needs. It’s important  to become aware of your own thoughts, feeling and needs, and learn how to communicate them in a relationship. In order to form healthy relationships with others, we must first form one with ourselves.

5. Learning to Say “No”
One of the best ways to set healthy boundaries is to learn to say “no” to situations that are
detrimental to your own well-being. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it,
the easier it will become.

Seeking the guidance of a therapist will be beneficial as work on becoming less codependent. Counselors can help you safely explore your painful feelings and experiences and
learn healthy ways of relating to yourself and others. If you or a loved one is codependent and
interested in exploring treatment, consider reaching out to schedule time with one of our
counselors.

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"It is never too late to be what you might have been." ~ George Eliot