Healing from codependency can be a struggle, but it’s crucial for your future happiness. Below, you’ll find my list of 33 quick tips to heal from codependency.
In my role as a life coach, I am often helping people improve the quality of their self-esteem and the relationships with those closest to them.
That’s why I’m keen to share this guide with you.
So, let’s dive in.
What Is Codependency?
Codependency is an excessive psychological or emotional reliance on another person. The word is often used to describe a reliance on a romantic partner, but it could be on someone else. (See Hostile Dependency – A Complete Guide for more examples).
The word ‘codependency’ is often used to describe a ‘codependent relationship’, where two lovers are so reliant on each other that they’re seemingly unable to function independently.
The most common type of codependent relationship is where one half of a couple is struggling with a mental health issue (depression, addiction, anger problems), while the other stays to try and fix them.
Although this might sound romantic on the surface, the unwell partner usually mistreats the caring partner, who only stays because they’re so terrified of being single.
Can A Person Recover From Codependency?
A codependent romance can have a lasting impact on the psychology of the caring partner, whose already low self-esteem tends to be damaged further by the unwell partner.
It might seem impossible to convince them to get out of a codependent relationship, even if they know they’re unhappy in it, but the steps below will help them to escape their partner and improve their sense of worthiness.
What About The ‘Unwell Partner’?
The unwell partner suffers in these relationships too, if only because their partner enables their toxic behavior by remaining with them.
The unwell partner can escape codependency by seeking help for the mental health issue that’s troubling them.
Usually though, it will take their partner leaving (or at least threatening to leave) before they’re inspired to make any changes.
As such, this article will focus on the mental health of the caring partner and what they can do to find the courage to leave the unwell partner.
How Do You Get Out Of Codependency?
A person with a healthy level of self-esteem would escape a codependent relationship at the first sign of being mistreated by their partner.
For a codependent person, it’s easier said than done.
The following tips will help give them the strength to leave their relationship and not be sucked into more codependent relationships in future.
1. Explore Your Identity
A codependent person rarely has a strong sense of identity. In many cases, their whole sense of identity and self-esteem comes from their relationship.
So, grab a pen and paper and answer the following questions;
- What is positive and unique about yourself?
- What do you love about yourself?
- What are your hopes, goals and dreams for the future?
This task won’t be easy for everyone, so consider asking a friend, family member or even a life coach to help you.
2. Work On Your Self-Esteem
The previous task won’t be easy if you’re struggling with low self-esteem, as most people in codependent relationships are.
Ultimately, it’s a lack of self-love which keeps people in codependent relationships where they’re mistreated.
A lot of the tips in this guide will help you improve your self-confidence, but I’d also recommend checking my list of 31 hacks to love yourself.
3. Set Boundaries For How People Treat You
If people break these boundaries, tell them that you won’t accept being treated that way. If those same people continue to over-step your boundaries, cut them from your life.
Codependent people often struggle with setting boundaries, because they believe on some level they deserve to be mistreated. Some would rather be mistreated in dysfunctional relationships than to be single.
4. Ask For What You Need
Codependent people are so focused on serving others that they never consider their own needs. They certainly aren’t great at asking others for what they need.
It’s not that your needs should be more important than those of other human beings, but they are at least as important.
When your needs aren’t met, you end up feeling depleted, resentful and unfulfilled. Also, it puts you in a worse position to serve others.
So, get in the habit of asking for what you need without shame.
5. Communicate Assertively
When you’re a people-pleaser – as most codependent people tend to be in their relationship at least – you tend to ask for what you want in a passive or apologetic way. That’s no way to be taken seriously.
So, sharpen up those communication skills and get in the habit of communicating assertively.
6. Learn To Say No
This is something else that people-pleasers struggle with. You need to learn that there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘no’.
7. Treat Yourself With Kindness
It’s a broad statement, which could entail eliminating negative self-talk, indulging in self-care and forgiving yourself for making mistakes.
8. Treat Yourself To Some Me-Time
Giving yourself some alone time constitutes self-care. Read a good book. Soak in the bath. Enjoy one of your favorite hobbies. Give yourself a break from serving others. Replenish your energy.
A person suffering from codependency needs to learn to enjoy being alone, and the best way to do that is to create more alone time for themselves.
9. Express Yourself
Repressing your emotions rarely does anyone any good. Become comfortable with expressing your feelings rather than keeping them bottled up.
10. Realize What You Deserve
Codependent people struggle to believe they’re worthy of love or attention. That’s how they end up in relationships with selfish attention-seekers who mistreat them.
To leave an unhappy partnership, a person needs to believe they deserve better. This list of low self-esteem solutions could help.
11. Understand Where Your Codependency Might Have Come From
If you grew up in a codependent or abusive family, you’re more likely to accept a toxic relationship. This is because you weren’t given a reference point of what a healthy relationship looked like. Those who didn’t receive love as a child tend to be more desperate for it from anyone as an adult too.
It’s worth exploring any type of past trauma you may have suffered in childhood or early adulthood. A licensed therapist is qualified to help you dive into your past to explore why you might be indulging in codependent behavior.
12. Realise Things Aren’t Going To Change
In a codependent relationship, it’s common for the caring partner to hope that the unwell partner will eventually see all the love they’re receiving and start to give as much in return.
In reality, your partner is unlikely to curb their emotional abuse while you’re treating them well. You might actually be enabling their behavior by continuing to love them as you do.
The only way they’d be motivated to change is if you leave, or at least threaten to do so.
13. Remember You Can’t Help People Who Don’t Want To Be Helped
You can point out other people’s problems – and hope they don’t take things personally. You can try to help or suggest they seek therapy. But they have to want help.
Even if you force them into a therapy session, they won’t take the advice seriously unless they want to. Ultimately, they have to make their own choices.
Even if you fix other people’s problems for them, they’ll still have to want to stop themselves falling into the same trap.
So, rather than staying in your relationship and encouraging your partner to seek help, the best way to help them is often to leave.
14. Spend More Time With Friends And Family
This will fill you with joy and confidence, while giving you more references of how a person who loves you should treat you.
Abusers often try to isolate their partners from their loved ones, so they lose touch and get less references like this.
15. Take Note Of Other Couples
If your parents weren’t in a loving relationship and you’ve never been in one, you may be more susceptible to codependency because you’ve never been exposed to healthy adult relationships.
If that’s the case, make a note of observing other couples in your social circle, so you can get a stronger idea of what a loving relationship looks like.
16. Stop Rationalising
Victims of codependency often rationalize their partner’s toxic behavior.
“They’ve had a tough day.”
“I annoyed them and they lashed out.”
Stop this. If your partner oversteps your boundaries, that’s a red flag, no matter what. If they keep doing it, you shouldn’t be with them.
17. Get Used To Putting Your Mental Health First
If you need time to replenish your energy, that’s enough of a reason to not do something.
18. Give Yourself A Small Break
If you need time away from someone who is draining you, that’s perfectly acceptable. Remember, your emotional well-being comes first.
Relationships are about compromise with equal give and take. If they won’t give as much as you, it’s time to find a better relationship.
20. Stop Gaining Your Self-Worth From Helping Others
It’s good to be kind and help others, but this shouldn’t be your only source of self-worth in your life. See my guide on people-pleasers for more on this.
21. You Don’t Have To Give Advice
If a loved one is struggling with a mental health problem, you shouldn’t have to be the one giving advice. You can offer emotional support, but the only advice worth giving is for them to seek professional help. You don’t have to feel guilty about not helping them further, since you’re probably not qualified to do so.
22. Forgive Yourself
We all make mistakes. Emotionally healthy people are able to forgive themselves. Perhaps you’re feeling guilty about the role you played in shaping your partner’s emotional well-being. That’s not enough of a reason to stay with them.
Meditation has a huge range of mental and emotional benefits. For codependency sufferers, it could be a useful exercise to make them more comfortable being alone.
It will make you more present to the moment, quietening the endless streams of self-critical negative thinking. It’s this inner voice that makes people feel so uncomfortable in their own company.
24. Remember You’re Not Responsible For The Actions Of Others
A lot of codependency sufferers feel responsible for the toxic actions of their partner. This is rarely the case. In most cases, their actions are not your responsibility, so you have no reason to feel guilty for leaving them.
How To Heal From Codependency After A Breakup
It has been mentioned enough times, but the most important step to start healing from codependency is to leave your codependent partner. Here is a short list of things to do to aid your recovery after you’ve taken that step.
25. Don’t Leave The Door Open For A Reconciliation
When you break up, tell them exactly why and make it clear that you’re finished for good. Don’t leave the door open for a reconciliation, as this will just tempt an unwell partner to keep contacting you and trying to manipulate you back into their control.
26. Don’t Contact Them
Apply the no-contact rule without exceptions. You’ve proven you’re susceptible to their manipulation and control, so don’t give yourself an opportunity to fall under their spell again.
27. Ignore Their Calls And Messages
If it’s a clean break, you should have no reason to hear from them again. If you have commitments like a child or a mortgage, explore if a friend or family member might be able to pass on their messages, at least during your early stages of codependency recovery.
28. Be Aware That Leaving Your Partner Isn’t Enough
If you don’t work on your own feelings and self-esteem, you’ll be susceptible to fall into codependency with someone else. That’s a vicious cycle you dont want to sign up for!
29. Have Better Standards For Future Partners
And don’t be afraid to leave if they mistreat or try to control you.
30. Seek Support From Friends And Family
Recovery from any problem is easier with support from your loved ones.
31. Consider Counseling
Codependency can have a lasting impact on your psychology moving forward. Help from a therapist, counsellor or licensed psychologist can help you get over this.
32. Don’t Rush Back Into A Relationship
Your search for love can take a back seat until you don’t feel uncomfortable on your own. Focus on yourself for a while. You need to learn to love yourself before you can truly love another human being in a healthy relationship.
33. Realize It Is Possible!
Plenty of people have made a recovery from codependency and you can too! Positive thinking will take you a long way.
What Does Healing From Codependency Look Like?
When you’re healed from codependency, you’ll feel confident in your own skin, regardless of whether you have a partner or not.
You’ll no longer be plagued with constant thoughts of your ex.
Once you do find a partner, you’ll be able to love them with all your heart. At the same time, you’ll have the mental strength and self-compassion to leave the relationship if they mistreat you.
Signs You’re Healing From Codependency
- You’re no longer obsessed with your partner.
- You no longer desperately seek external validation from a partner.
- You’re happy in your own skin, regardless of your relationship status.
- You set and enforce boundaries for how people treat you.
- You’re ready to cut anyone off who oversteps your boundaries.
- You don’t repress negative feelings towards your partner.
- You’re more in control of your emotions. They’re not too dramatically affected by anyone else.
Codependency Healing From Narcissistic Abuse
A narcissist is someone who has no empathy for other people’s feelings, only caring about their own feelings and their own life.
They often like to control people in their life to get what they want from them. As such, they are likely candidates to become the unwell partner in a codependent love story.
You can learn more about recovery from narcissistic abuse in my guide on how to emotionally detach from a narcissist.
Healing From Codependency Resources
Healing From Codependency Books
- Codependent No More – Melody Beattie
- Boundaries – Henry Cloud
- Women Who Love Too Much – Robin Norwood
- Facing Codependence – Pia Mellody
Codependency Recovery Worksheets
This worksheet by Treehouse Recovery has some useful information.
Overcoming Codependency Exercises PDF
This PDF by Sharon Martin features more useful ideas and exercises.
Any Questions Or Final Thoughts?
Thanks for reading my blog post. I hope it will help you start recovering from codependency and eventually break free.
If you have any questions or opinions about this topic, please write them in the comments section below.
It will be great to hear from you. I’ll make a point of offering support and replying to as many comments as I can.