How To Overcome Codependency and Save Your Relationships

After recognizing codependent traits, it’s normal to seek an understanding of how to overcome codependency. You may be asking yourself what causes codependency and if there is a cure? The good news is that there are steps to overcome codependent behaviors and tendencies. However, defining codependency is essential before discussing boundaries and treatment options.

What is the Root of Codependency?

Codependency usually derives from childhood trauma. Children who grow up in dysfunctional families are likelier to foster codependent relationships. Dysfunction can be different things in different houses. However, many homes have substance abuse, domestic violence, abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse as commonalities.

What are the Characteristics of Codependency?

There are various characteristics of codependency. Personal life experiences and personality types influence how codependent traits manifest. However, a codependent person typically exhibits several of these symptoms or signs,

  • False self-image. Low self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Pleasing someone else to the point of no longer having a sense of self.
  • Caretaking – you feel responsible for catering to every whim of the enabler.
  • Lack of boundaries.
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism.
  • The need to control others’ feelings and behaviors. Needing to feel needed.
  • Poor communication skills.
  • Lacks self-confidence in decision making.
  • Constantly seeking approval and reassurance.
  • Often feels like a victim.
  • Chronic anger.
  • Taking care of a loved one or enabler’s needs they are capable of doing on their own.
  • Extreme fear of abandonment and rejection.
  • Confusing love and pity.
  • Ignoring or denying problems.
  • Being excited by chaos and drama seeking.
  • Do not like being alone and tolerate unacceptable behavior to avoid being alone.
  • Difficulty expressing emotions and suppressing feelings out of fear or guilt.
  • Withdrawing from hobbies and passions to spend time with their enabler.

Is Codependency a Mental Illness?

Codependency is not a mental illness or disorder. However, it’s often co-occurring with personality disorders, including narcissistic, dependent, and borderline personality disorder. In addition, people who grow up in homes with caregivers with these disorders often become codependent.

Can You Cure Codependency?

No magical elixir or pill gives you the immediate satisfaction of being cured of codependency. However, because codependency is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned. Healing from codependency involves identifying your codependent traits. Then, start making the necessary changes for how to overcome codependency.

How To Overcome Codependency

Some people discover how to overcome codependency through articles and books. Others, from environmental changes such as getting a non-caretaking job or achieving sobriety (1). These strategies of overcoming codependency are things you can implement and practice yourself. 

Setting Boundaries

All positive relationships demonstrate healthy boundaries, trust, and respect. Essentially boundaries establish what you will and won’t accept in a relationship. So learning how to set boundaries and vigorously enforce them is necessary for overcoming codependency. There are seven types of boundaries to set, including physical, sexual, financial, emotional, spiritual, time, and non-negotiable, otherwise known as deal-breakers (2). Some examples of boundaries include,

  • I need daily quiet time to myself.
  • I’m not cleaning up after you.
  • I want to spend time with family on the weekends.
  • I’m not financially supporting your alcohol addiction.
  • I’m not comfortable with physical touch in public.
  • I will not support your substance use.
  • I’m uncomfortable sharing social media passwords.
  • I don’t want to watch Star Wars.
  • I won’t get into the vehicle with you when you’ve been drinking.
  • I need time to meditate and pray every day.

Communicating your boundaries is the first step in enforcing them. Furthermore, boundaries are not only for intimate relationships but all your interpersonal relationships.

Learning to Say No

Learning to say no is an integral part of learning how to overcome codependency. The first step in saying no is establishing boundaries. Your inability to say no will create a hard time. So when is the appropriate time to say no? According to Psych Central, you should ask yourself these questions to start the discovery process,

1. Will saying yes prevent me from focusing on something that’s more important?

2. Does this potential project, opportunity, or activity align with my values, beliefs, and goals?

3. What are my core values, beliefs, and current goals?

4. Will saying yes make me even more tired or burnt out?

5. Will saying yes be good for my mental health? Or will it worsen my symptoms?

6. In the past, when have I said yes and then ended up regretting it?

7. When am I more likely to accept a request I’d rather decline? How can I reduce these challenges?

Psych Central

Resisting the Urges to Fix and Rescue

Codependent people have an overwhelming need to save people. As a result, they try to control and fix things without solicitation to do so. This unhealthy version of helping is rescuing (3).

So it’s critical to identify and resist the urges to fix, control, and save others. When you find yourself in a fixed mindset, remind yourself that you cannot know what the other person needs or wants; only they genuinely do (4). Let go of trying to control things that are impossible to control.

How To Overcome Codependency by Stopping Negative Thinking

Everyone has an inner voice. However, when that voice becomes obsessive and critical, it can lead to ruminating thoughts. So how do you stop negative thinking? Dr. Lisa W. Coyne suggests practicing these four simple steps: pause, notice the difference, label your thoughts, and choose your intention (5).

1. Pause the Moment

When you find yourself dwelling in negative thinking patterns, take a moment and pause. Use your five senses to focus on the world around you in the present time.

2. Notate the Difference

Note the difference between engaging your surroundings with your five senses compared to being cemented to your thoughts. Pay attention to what is happening inside your mind and ask yourself if it serves your mental health.

3. Label Your Thoughts

If it doesn’t, reflect on each thought and label them as what they are rather than your initial perceptions. Also, try to distance the ideas from the thinker and label them accordingly.

4. Choose Your Intention

After completing the necessary steps of pausing, noting the differences, and labeling your thoughts, you get to choose your intention. So, will you continue to struggle mentally, or will you decide to take a step toward overcoming negative thinking?

Learning How to Identify Your Feelings and Needs

Identifying your feelings and needs is critical for establishing boundaries and understanding what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship. In addition, it allows you to care for your needs and fix codependent behaviors.

Spending Time With Yourself

Learn how to be comfortable spending time alone. Codependent nature dictates a constant desire to be around a person or people. So it’s vital to separate yourself from that practice and get into a new habit of being comfortable spending time with yourself. When we are alone, we can genuinely identify our emotions and needs. Letting go of the fear of being alone is vital to having a healthy relationship with yourself.

Nurturing Your Own Hobbies and Passions

Part of a codependent relationship is sacrificing spending time on your unique interests to spend time with an enabler. So part of unlearning that behavior is rededicating that time to entertaining your hobbies and interests. Taking the time to rediscover your interests and dislikes helps teaches you about who you are, what you want, and what’s important to you in life.

Practicing Self-Care

Practicing acts of self-care is part of how to overcome codependency. Codependents extend themselves so much for other people that they neglect their self-care. Self-care means many things to different people and reflects physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. Take time to access what needs you have that you are neglecting and begin to nurture them. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s self-love and necessary.

Asking for Help

Stop trying to do everything for everyone, all by yourself. No one is capable of such demand, and you’re losing yourself in that process. Asking for help is the first step in breaking passive communication, which heavily fuels codependency (6). To develop this habit, ask your loved ones for small and simple tasks such as rinsing their plates before putting them on the counter.

Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

Practicing mindfulness is a fantastic way to pull you out of your head and get you to focus on the present. Also, meditation and mindfulness tools help reduce stress and anxiety while helping you become less reactive. Which all aid in overcoming codependency. Psychotherapist Sharon Martin has an audio-guided meditation to help heal codependency. It may be worth a listen.

Popular Reading – What Causes Codependency and How to Break Free in Recovery

Work Through a Codependency Workbook

Several codependency workbooks assist you with exercises to conquer codependency. Melody Beattie is famous for introducing the world to codependency with her book Codependent No More. She has since released a Codependent No More Workbook. To follow along with to get the most out of it. The workbook helps you apply what you’re learning.

How To Overcome Codependency With Therapy

Therapy is a great place to learn how to overcome codependency. Therapists are mental health specialists who are educated and trained in helping people identify codependent traits. Then, to assist them in overcoming their codependent behaviors.

Benefits of Therapy for Codependency

There are various benefits to getting professional help to heal codependency, including,

  • Speaking to someone trained in helping you identify your codependent tendencies.
  • A therapist can help you understand how you developed these codependent patterns.
  • A therapist can help you recognize and accept repressed feelings and suppressed emotions.
  • They can help you improve interpersonal relationships.
  • Teach you how to be supportive without enabling codependent behaviors.
  • A therapist can help you establish healthy boundaries.
  • A therapist can determine what treatment will work best for you, such as group, family, or cognitive behavior therapy.
  • A professional ear to help diagnose co-occurring personality disorders when applicable.

Therapy can be in-person or virtual. However, online therapy services are more readily accessible and more affordable in some cases. For instance, if you do not have health insurance. If you’re interested in exploring online therapy, here is a coupon for 20% off.


The 12 Steps to Recovery From Codependency

An alternative, or addition to therapy, is Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA). CoDA is a 12-step meeting-based program that works on the twelve steps and traditions, which resemble the 12 steps and traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). CoDA is a support system for overcoming codependency. It is not a professional treatment plan for how to overcome codependency. However, many, like all 12-step programs, many people experience wins.

How To Overcome Codependency in a Toxic Relationship

Implementing these practices for defeating codependency is vital in undoing the toxicity of some relationships. However, if you’ve implemented these strategies and the relationship remains toxic, it’s time to bounce. On the contrary, you may have success in couples therapy.

However, once a relationship has reached a level of toxicity, it can be challenging to return. Furthermore, if the codependent relationship involves any verbal, physical, mental, or sexual abuse, that is not to be tolerated. Those relationships are not suitable and are damaging. It will never be a healthy relationship, and you need to let go of that unhealthy relationship for your safety and health.

How To Overcome Codependency Summary

Discovering how to overcome codependency is crucial for a sense of self and healthy relationships. There are various ways to conquer codependent traits. Once you’ve identified your symptoms, it becomes easier to manage them. You can do several things, including self-care, setting boundaries, and learning how to say no. In addition, therapy is a good treatment for codependents.

A therapist can help you identify your traits, tendencies, and behaviors. To maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and others, it’s imperative that you work on overcoming and healing your codependency. Please share to spread awareness so that others learn how to overcome codependency and have healthier relationships and lives.

Popular Reading – How To Control Mood Swings: 10 Effective Ways


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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.

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