There is a particular joy that comes from making a loved one feel special. On occasion, that may mean silencing how you feel, although, to many, it still seems worth it to ensure you are meeting your partner’s needs. Many women believe that it’s their responsibility to keep their partner happy. Often at the cost of their very selves.
There’s a difference between making a sacrifice for the sake of compromise and violating your boundaries. When those concessions become a habit, it is a slippery slope into codependence. Overcoming those tendencies involves a much more strenuous climb back to balance in your relationship. Still, it can be achieved with a commitment to following through.
This article will let you know how to break codependency habits after recognizing that they’re present.
What is codependency?
To learn how to permanently break codependency habits, we’ll begin by taking a closer look. Though its definition has evolved from describing instances seen entirely in relationships where one or more partners are in active addiction, over time, the word has come to include a more expansive set of behaviors. Codependency is broadly defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a person who has a close relationship with somebody in which they rely too much on each other emotionally, especially when one person is caring for the other one”. The moment when the desire to give someone what they want over honoring your own needs is the moment a relationship becomes codependent.
Where do I begin in codependency recovery?
As with all things, we must start at the beginning. Consider how your relationships began, how they developed, and where you find yourself today.
To start healing codependent tendencies, you must first find where they exist. When you consider decisions made in your partnership of any scope—from where you plan to move to what you’ll be having for your next shared meal—observe the space you make for yourself. In considering your loved one’s preferences, do you overlook your own? Is there equilibrium in the way weight is given to these considerations?
Awareness is both a passive and active step in reclaiming your own standing. Where you lost the thread of remembering to care for yourself in tandem with caring for others is where the work begins. Finding that place is the first step in unraveling the codependent habits and finding healthy roots in your relationships.
Check-in with yourself
Everyone needs and deserves a support system that includes people who offer love even when it’s challenging to offer it to ourselves. However, if that love or validation is substituting for your own on a full-time basis, it could mean trouble. It’s time to get back to your roots, reconnect with your own thoughts and feelings, and answer some fundamental questions: What do you want? What matters to you? What do you need from your partner?
Whether it’s removing yourself from the codependent relationship or just establishing boundaries to make time to reflect on your own needs, to break codependent habits you will need to have a plan. You will need to get down to the nitty-gritty with yourself to untangle the traditions that alter your partnership and turn it into reliance. This can be messy and uncomfortable, but it’s critical to differentiate between compromise and self-sacrifice in your relationships. Using tools like mantras, self-check-ins, or even worksheets can help you examine and alter your behaviors to actively choose the former.
Reframe your priorities
Depending on your attachment style, the way you feel love and the urgency with which you respond to emotions in your relationships may vary. Secure and healthy attachments make it simpler to recognize and adequately weigh how power is divided within the relationship. In more anxious or insecure attachment types, everything can feel like an emergency. You may be rushing through emotional processing toward solutions to alleviate discomfort for your loved one, fearful of their anger or that they may leave you. Remember, discomfort is not an emergency, nor is it our enemy. Neither is fear. You cannot plan through your fear effectively, but you can burn yourself out trying.
Count your small steps
It can be difficult to see progress as you’re making it, so learn to count every step forward as a success instead of just the end goal. Make a note of each victory you achieve, no matter the scale, toward self-reliance. Empowering your self-worth is a beneficial energy expenditure. All progress, even little progress, counts. Take that step forward and celebrate every time.
Put your oxygen mask on first
Just as we’re told when boarding airplanes, it’s crucial that you put on your oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else. No matter how counterintuitive it feels or how much supporting others makes you feel useful, there is no good to come of it if you do not also care for yourself. Make your needs a priority, and do it ruthlessly. Putting yourself in harm’s way to provide care to others does not benefit anyone.
Codependency is often a collection of habits that shapes itself around pure intentions, but it’s a slippery slope. Re-prioritizing the way love and energy are doled out in your world can be a frustrating and painful experience, but it’s the first step toward a healthier and more fulfilling future. Start at the beginning and work diligently toward a life without those codependent habits. There is no one you need to love harder than you protect yourself, and you are worth the energy that may cost.