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Recovery Suggestions Codependency

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13- Recovery Suggestions Codependency

 

As with any other type of addiction, recovery from codependency requires vigilance and a willingness to practice a new set of principles and behaviors on a daily basis. This article provides reminders and practical recovery suggestions that have proven effective in helping maintain recovery from codependency.

 

1. Stop living like a victim

2. Trust yourself

3. Feel your feelings

4. Be compassionate with yourself

5. Stop tormenting yourself

6. Stop self-doubt

7. Stop reacting

8. Detach emotionally

9. Become self responsible

10. Prioritize your needs and wants

11. Exercise your rights and choices

12. Face reality

13. Stop other dependence

14. Set boundaries

15. Practice honest communications

16. Depend on yourself

17. Depend on your God

18. Live your life in recovery

  Codependency Recovery Suggestions

 

1. Stop living like a victim

  • As children we learned to survive life by adopting certain dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors, which we have carried into adulthood. But this does not mean we are defective or less than others. Yet many codependents think they are irreparably damaged, living as victims, as if not entitled to enjoy life. Living upon such self-denigrating beliefs, it is no wonder we rely on others to provide our sense of worth and wellbeing.
  • Remind yourself each day that you are not a victim but a worthwhile human being entitled to the best life has to offer. There is nothing wrong with you, except that you are affected by a type of behavioral addiction called codependency. By gaining awareness of your condition, you have already started your journey into recovery. All you need to do now is to use its tools and resources to change your beliefs about yourself and behave differently. Make a commitment to yourself in your refusal to live like a victim each day.

 

2. Trust yourself

  • Most of us have been taught from a young age to distrust our very beings – our inner compass — and we grow up believing we cannot rely on our thoughts, feelings or instincts. Because we consider other people more qualified than ourselves to assess our worth, we accept their harsh judgments of us without question. This inability to honor and trust ourselves places us in a submissive position, which further feeds our dependence on others for our self-esteem.
  • Learn to have faith in yourself. Trust your own thinking and believe your reality. Your instincts will tell you what to do and how to handle any situation life throws at you.

 

3. Feel your feelings

  • We codependents learn to distance ourselves from with our emotional lives to the point where we are no longer in touch with our feelings. Such a splitting off from a vital part of ourselves can usually be traced to childhood. For instance, if we expressed a strong emotion while growing up, we very likely were either ignored or shamed or told we should not feel that way. The result is we grew up distrusting our feelings and emotions; always suspecting that what we were experiencing was somehow wrong or inappropriate. Now as adults in our codependent state, we find it easier simply to deny our feelings, never expressing them. Not feeling any emotions has become our way of coping with life. When our alcoholic husband looses his job again, when our drug-addicted son steals from us, or when our friend betrays our trust, we put up a front and pretend nothing is wrong. It is easier for us to deny our feelings of pain, hurt or sadness than to face the hard truths about our life circumstances.
  • If our aim is to free ourselves from misery and codependency, then we need to start acknowledging our emotions. Feeling the appropriate feelings about life circumstances will give us the indication for the best course of action and what we need to do to take care of ourselves. We don’t need to walk through life numb and mute anymore; we can feel our feelings and learn to express them appropriately.

 

4. Be compassionate with yourself

  • Because we may have been denied sufficient love or nurturing as a child, we need it all the more so as to recover from codependency. The unfortunate truth is that we treat ourselves in the same abusive manner we were treated as children. Part of our work in recovery from codependency is to nurture and value ourselves. So learn to become the caring parent to yourself today. It may be a foreign concept to many of us having not much experience of it, but it is our responsibility to learn to love ourselves.
  • Engage regularly in activities that bring you a sense of love, care and compassion for yourself. Love yourself for who you are. Affirm yourself. Accept yourself with all your faults, feelings and weakness. Be proud of yourself for your resilience, strength and abilities. Stop finding faults with yourself; instead, become the compassionate and nurturing parent to yourself.

 

5. Stop tormenting yourself

  • Our favorite pastime is tormenting ourselves, focusing constantly on that which is not right in our lives. “I would be happy if only I was not so weak, if my husband treated me well, if my son was not an addict, if I had a better job, a better car, a nicer home ….” The list is never ending. Even if something good does happen, we somehow manage to turn it into a negative by worrying that it won’t last! We are specialists at finding fault with everything and everyone in every situation or event. We are professional negative perceivers of life. We are experts at tormenting ourselves with all that is wrong with us. We shame ourselves for not being who we think we should be. We feel guilty for being who we are. We are in a constant state of anxiety and fear, always bracing for the crisis that is going to unravel our lives. We punish ourselves for every decision we make, believing it is not the right one. We blame ourselves for the problems those close to us are suffering from. Never at ease or at peace with ourselves, it is no wonder we are miserable and find the need to focus our time and energy on other people so as to escape our life.
  • It is time to stop tormenting ourselves and change our attitude towards our lives and ourselves. Even though our childhood experiences may have led us to adopt a negative attitude, we are adults now and have the ability to change the way we feel about ourselves. Make a commitment that you will no longer allow the dark past to rule your life. Change your attitude towards yourself to one of love and confidence. Remind yourself of the good and the positive in every situation.

 

6. Stop self-doubt

  • We have too little faith in ourselves and our ability to make good choices. When we make a decision to do something, we immediately doubt ourselves, wondering whether we did the right thing or worrying about how it might affect others. We drive ourselves mad by obsessively analyzing the smallest decision, as if each step is fraught with danger. What if I am making the wrong decision? What if it proves to be a mistake? How will this decision affect the rest of my affaires? Will I have to live with the consequences of this decision for the rest of my life? On and on our thoughts twist and turn until self-doubt leaves us exhausted and paralyzed. When we do decide to act in a way that is in our best interest, our people pleasing traits assert themselves and we worry if our decision will make others not like us. So we doubt ourselves and wonder again. How will my decision impact others? Will they be angry with me? Will they not like me? Will they treat me badly? Will they reject or abandon me? And on and on until our thoughts takes us to such confused places that we leave it others to decide what is best for us. The problem with us is that whatever decision we make is never the right one anyway. We shame and criticize ourselves for whatever we do in life. This is our codependency, at its core and its root our self esteem.
  • Don’t allow self-doubt to plague you. Make a decision based on the information at hand; one that you deem is in your best interests — and then stick to it! Have confidence in your cognitive abilities and assure yourself you are doing the right thing. Don’t change your mind back and forth once you have decided to do something. Whatever decision you make, the outcome will be right if its intention is in your best interest.

 

7. Stop reacting

  • As codependents we are in a constant state of anxiety and stress because we are always reacting to others. We do not feel secure and confident in ourselves. The state of our mind and the quality of our lives is determined by how others treat us, not by how we ourselves feel. Somebody complements us or treats us well and we feel elated. We respond by doing anything they want, without asking ourselves if it is something we really want to do. Another person treats us badly, so we get angry and react impulsively without considering whether we are acting in our best interest — or merely trying to get even. Although it is natural to be affected by people and circumstances, as codependents our lives are defined by extreme impulses and reactions. Seldom are we calm enough to pause and coolly weigh what action to take for our best interest.
  • Overreacting impairs our mental functioning. We are operating from a hyper alert and anxious state in which we fail to consider our options and best course of action. Next time you find yourself compelled to react to a person or an event, just wait. Give yourself time to realize your options and what works best for you against the facts at hand.

 

8. Detach emotionally

  • Most codependents find it difficult to separate themselves emotionally from others. They don’t know where they start and the other person ends. We lack boundaries and so we enmesh ourselves in the lives of our relationships. Unbidden, we take responsibility for their wellbeing, then feel angry and depressed when our own lives feel meaningless and unfulfilled. Being emotionally attached to others inevitably leads us to engage in controlling behaviors. In a doomed effort to feel good about ourselves, we try everything possible to make others live the way we think they should. The result is always the same: volatile and chaotic lives for all around.
  • Learn to detach yourself emotionally from your relationships. Remind yourself that your happiness is not dependent on how others choose to lead their lives. Learn to focus on improving the quality of your own life and show others the respect and allow them the freedom to do the same with their lives. The more you let go and emotionally detach from others, the more energy you will have to take care of yourself and recover from your codependency.
  • For further information and suggestions on how to emotionally let go of others, please refer to: Addict’s family Emotional detachment

 

9. Become self responsible

  • Many of us behave as if we were still children, imagining that other people are responsible for the care and quality of our lives. We deny our strength and discount our abilities in the vain fantasy that by acting powerless other people will feel obliged to look after us. But other people are as fallible as we are, with their own faults and wrestling with their own problems. They are bound to disappoint us and in any case they are not responsible for our wellbeing.
  • There is no Prince Charming coming to rescue us. Only we can be our own hero and take responsibility to rescue ourselves from our codependency and for achieving a good life.

 

10. Prioritize your needs and wants

  • Along the way we came to believe that we are unworthy and that the lives of others are more important than our own. So we spend our time and energy catering to their needs and wants — and in the process completely abandon our own. Continuing to live by what we learned as children, some of us are oblivious to the fact that we do indeed have needs and wants, or that we are even entitled to any. The result is we put other people’s needs and wants above ours. This often results in us taking responsibility for their lives, which comes across as meddling. Not only do we feel empty for not catering to our own needs and wants but we also feel resentful for our “martyrdom” not being appreciated.
  • In any situation ask yourself what you have to do to satisfy your needs and wants before catering to those of others. The more you focus on looking after yourself, the more you allow others to lead their lives as they wish.

 

11. Exercise your rights and choices

  • You are no longer a child operating under the rules and confines of your family, but a grown-up with rights and choices. You don’t need to do something just because someone tells you to do it, or because you want to avoid being reprimanded. We are not second-class citizens but worthy human beings with equal rights. We don’t deserve to be treated as less than, and we do not need to put up with any behavior that is abusive or inappropriate.
  • In any situation remind yourself of your rights as a worthy human being and recognize that you have choices. Then make a decision based on what works to your advantage. This is not being selfish or inconsiderate towards others, but merely you recognizing your worth and integrity. Acting in ways that are to your best interest, reduces your emotional enmeshment with others, which in turn motivates them to look after themselves.

 

12. Face reality

  • Give up the fantasy that if you behave in a way designed to please others, you will be taken care of. This is a codependent way of thinking that robes us of our authentic identity and demeans our self worth. It is also, in truth, a form of dishonesty. We are behaving in self-denigrating ways in an attempt to manipulate those around us. We are not being true to ourselves, but instead are trying to manage outcomes to suit ourselves. Such behavior may have worked for us when we were children. If we were good, maybe we would not get abused. If we were helpful, our addicted parents might do a better job of looking after us. But this belief system is working to our detriment as adults. It is diminishing our self worth and making our relationships dishonest.
  • Base your decisions on facts and that which is in your best interest — and let go of your assumptions and fantasies regarding the reactions of others. You are not God, and you cannot predict how your decisions will impact others! Others may not like your decision, it’s true, but that is their issue — and as adults it is up to them to deal with it. What matters is your recovery from the disease of codependency and your endeavor to honor yourself. Be wary of thinking: “I shouldn’t,” “it is disrespectful,” or “it is uncaring.” Very likely, that’s your codependency talking. Instead become polite and caring to yourself for a change.

 

13. Stop other dependence

  • Your source of happiness and well-being is within you. Depending on others for our emotional well-being can make us feel lost and confused. When we give others the power to define how we feel, we wind up on an emotional roller coaster, which makes our lives become unmanageable. Someone is good to us, so we feel happy. Then they mistreat us and we feel sad. They shout at us and we seethe in anger or fear. They ignore us and we feel alone. Although it is natural to be affected by how we are treated, allowing it to rule our state of mind and our conduct in life is due to our lack of identity and integrity.
  • We have the power to feel good about our ourselves and lives regardless of what other people say or do to us. The source of our joy and peace is within us. It is the relationship we have with ourselves and how we treat ourselves that determines our well-being. We become less affected by how others may treat us when we have a loving and caring relationship with ourselves. Recovery from codependency is when we let go of our neediness and dependence on others for our sense of well-being.

 

14. Set boundaries

  • Reflect on the ways you have been dependent on other people and ask yourself what has been the end result. Have you felt fulfilled, or have you felt disappointed and resentful? How has the other person reacted, the person you have made yourself dependent on? Have they given you what you have asked? Have they treated you with respect or with neglect? The more we lack healthy boundaries and rely on others to fulfill any aspect of our lives, the more our relationships become unhealthy and dysfunctional. When we depend on others to fulfill our needs and wants, inadvertently we are putting ourselves in the role of a needy child. This in turn gives others the power to assume the role of the adult who is at liberty to take advantage or mistreat us.
  • People in our lives will treat us with equality and respect when we establish healthy boundaries and are not needy or emotionally dependent on them. When we fulfill our own needs and wants, when we take responsibility for our own lives and allow others the same freedom, our relationships will become healthy and interdependent. We can live in conjunction with others in a manner that is mutually equal and supportive for all.

 

15. Practice honest communications

  • There is a saying that goes codependents don’t say what they mean and don’t mean what they say! This is because we don’t know how to communicate honestly and directly. Growing up in dysfunctional or addicted families, we seldom experienced healthy communication. Most of us witnessed our family members using all sorts of manipulations and covert mechanisms to get their needs and wants met, so we have adopted the same means to interact with others. We people please, we plead, we show affection, we cry, we cajole, we sulk, we help, instead of simply and directly expressing our needs and wants. Being fearful of other people’s anger, or of being rejected or abandoned, we often repress our true feelings and keep quiet instead. Our people-pleasing traits also make it hard for us to assert ourselves. We often believe by expressing ourselves honestly, we might not be liked. But if we hope to recover from our codependency and have functional relationships, then we need to learn how to communicate in healthy ways. This requires us to value ourselves enough to summon the courage to express ourselves directly.
  • Practicing healthy communications is a frightening prospect for most of us, and we will not become experts overnight. Dysfunctional ways of communicating are ingrained in us, and the undoing of that takes time and practice. Start with expressing your needs and wants directly over small matters and see what happens. You will be surprised when people not only understand you better, but respond by honoring your wishes. Remind yourself that it is not your fault – and also not your concern – if someone reacts disrespectfully to a reasonable request by yourself. That is their issue and does not mean you made a mistake by being direct and honest. The key to healthy communication is your determination to be true and honor yourself above all.
  • For further information and suggestions on how to practice effective communications, please refer to: Addict’s family Constructive communications.

 

16. Depend on yourself

  • Though other people may have betrayed or abandoned you, make a commitment not to betray yourself. Become your own best alley in life and depend on yourself. This means challenging the detrimental beliefs you have about yourself, beliefs that most probably are deeply embedded and difficult to erase. But remind yourself again and again that you are good. You are suited for life. You are fit for reality. You can handle any situation life throws at you. You are neither weak, nor stupid, nor incapable, nor desperate, and you definitely are not a mistake. Yet we hurl these charges at ourselves constantly, and these thoughts provoke guilt and shame, making us hesitant to depend on ourselves.
  • Depend on yourself. Depend on your inner power and strength. You can trust your judgments and decisions. You can honor yourself. You are valuable and capable. Breathe in confidence and know for a fact you can trust and depend on yourself.

 

17. Depend on a God

  • Your reliance on a power greater than yourself — or God — will provide you with a strong sense of emotional security that reduces your neediness on others. When you accept that there is a God who cares for you and who does not want you to suffer, you can more easily let go of your dependency on others for your sense of security and wellbeing. You can learn to depend on Him in the knowledge that whatever is happening is for your own good, even if it may not seem that way at the moment.
  • Many of us don’t believe in God, thinking either that He does not exist or that He simply no longer cares for us. In fact, we may believe that he has abandoned us. But the truth is that it is you who has abandoned yourself, not God. It is you who has given your life over to the care of other people, and the result has been your misery. God wants each and every one of us to have an authentic and good life. He does not want us to be martyrs, victims or caretakers. He does not want us to suffer in codependency. Depend on the God of your understanding. Trust that He has a plan for each and every one of us. The more you let go of control and depend on Him, the less your need to depend on others.

 

18. Live your life in recovery

  • Most of us in our codependency have reached the point where life has become miserable, something simply to be endured. We dread each day, trying to get through it as quickly as possible and as numbed out as we can be. We find some relief by focusing on other people’s lives, fixing them so that we don’t have to face our own pain and problems. We have managed to survive life using the methods we learned while being raised in dysfunctional or abusive family systems, and so we continue on the same basis in our adult life. We are not enjoying our lives and most of us don’t dare to harbor any hopes or aspirations for future. We feel envious of other people who seem to be in command of their lives; achieving their goals and making their dreams come true. And we pity ourselves and our miserable lot, wondering where it all went wrong.
  • We don’t need to live with codependency anymore. There is a way out. There is a solution, a path to a better way of life. It starts with the acceptance of our condition and acknowledging that we have a distorted view of ourselves in that we believe ourselves worthless and lack self esteem. Then we come to understand its roots and symptoms, where our faulty beliefs originate from to then realize it is within our power and our choice whether we want to continue life on these beliefs. Many of us seek the help of a therapist at this stage, though not required as simply working the 12 Steps of Codependents anonymous and attending its meetings has enabled many of us to find the tools to live a new and better way of life free from codependency on a daily basis. There is hope. We have the power, the choice and the ability to create the life we want. When we admit we are powerless over our others, when we start taking responsibility for the care of own lives, and ourselves then we have started our journey into recovery from codependency.

  

  • For details of some of the Farsi speaking Codependent anonymous meetings throughout the world, please refer to: Farsi Meetings

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