Learning how to fix codependency is completely possible. In this article, you will learn effective strategies to fix codependency to feel happier and have healthier relationships.
If you have ever felt confused about the definition of codependency – you’re not alone. There are many definitions out there. However, to learn how to recover from codependency, it’s helpful to have a unified definition.
For this article, the definition of codependency comes from my book, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle.
In this book, I define codependency as a pattern of “prioritizing others’ needs, expectations, or problems over one’s own mental and physical health” (p. 6).
How to Fix Codependency: Look Within
Traditionally, codependency has been seen as a concern that exists in romantic relationships. However, a person who struggles with codependent symptoms will do so whether they are single or in a romantic relationship. The symptoms exist within them rather than having to do with their partner or anyone else in their life they may want to change.
Therefore, the path to fixing codependency is actually quite empowering! You simply need to start looking within rather than to the other people in your life to feel better.
No One Else Needs to Change to Fix Your Codependency
Often people with codependency will try to figure out how to change, or heal, others to feel better.
But this is a trap.
Because codependency itself is a pattern of prioritizing others over yourself, it doesn’t go away simply because someone else changes. Instead, the target will move precisely because one of the core symptoms of codependency involves issues with reality. This leads people to chase happiness outside of themselves.
Other People Can’t Make You Happy
In reality, happiness is a state of mind which must come from within to last. Finding happiness in others is always impermanent.
A person in codependency chases happiness outside of themselves. Then even if they get what they want, the goal for happiness changes. For example, if a person wants a promotion to feel fulfilled and happy, they don’t suddenly become satisfied once they get this promotion. Instead, they may decide that this promotion “doesn’t count” until they get another promotion or work for a more prestigious company.
Or if a person finds that the non-committal person they’ve been dating agrees to be exclusive, they may suddenly decide that’s not enough. They may now want their partner to make more time for them and so on.
Finding Your Own Happiness
Most people in their codependency find their minds go blank when asked what brings them joy. They also often find that they don’t know themselves anymore (or never did). This is completely understandable. After all, if you are experiencing codependency, you spend much of your time and energy focused on others. It’s no wonder that you don’t yet know what will make you truly happy. That’s ok.
The first step to finding your own happiness involves building a loving relationship with yourself. This is done with the practice of cultivating self-awareness and committing to self-care.
Fixing Codependency by Caring for Yourself
To fix codependency, it’s necessary to provide yourself with some of the loving attention, care, and time you’ve given away to others.
Initially, in the healing process of codependency, it’s common to feel guilty or selfish providing yourself love and care. Please know this is completely understandable. Often, codependency stems from experiences which made you believe that you must sacrifice yourself to please others to ensure you won’t be abandoned, rejected, or hurt.
Practice having compassion for the fact that you may not want to focus on yourself or even feel bad about taking this time. At the same time, you must still act on self-care even if you don’t want to.
Committing to Self-Care
In reality, self-care is not selfish. In fact, caring for yourself is one of the most loving things you can do for others. This is because when you fill your own cup up you have more room to be present for those you love. Without feeling balanced and nourished, you can’t have healthy relationships with others. Instead, these relationships become about finding approval rather than true connection.
When you are fixing codependency, self-care often seems intimidating or impossible to commit to so it’s important to focus on baby steps. You can learn the six steps for effective self-care in the article, “How to Take Care of Yourself – 6 Simple Self-Care Strategies.”
But most basically, find one small way you want to nourish yourself such as getting more exercise. Instead of overcommitting to going to the gym 5 days a week, start much more simply. For example, you could begin taking a 20-minute walk once a week first.
Identifying, Setting, and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries
Another step for codependency recovery featured in my book, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle, is about the importance of setting boundaries.
Often, when developing boundaries, it’s clearer to see where our boundaries may be lacking. Any situation which drains you or fills you with resentment is an opportunity to set boundaries.
If you never make time to practice self-care for instance then you have an opportunity to begin to set boundaries around your time. If you want to take a walk once a week for now, you will need to set the boundary with yourself of keeping this commitment. You may also need to communicate with others i.e., your coworkers that you will be out of the office during your lunch break and unavailable to ensure you have time for that walk.
You Always Have Choices and Options
Your boundaries create a clear line of separation between you and others. At first, this concept is overwhelming or scary for many people in their codependency. After a pattern of people pleasing, beginning to feel your natural separation can feel lonely. However, with practice, it can feel very empowering to remember that just because someone wants something from you doesn’t mean you’re obligated to sacrifice your time, energy, or wellbeing for them.
When you’re connected to your healthy boundaries system, you know that you get to make choices and you always have options.
For help visualizing your healthy separation from others to feel your own feelings and see your options, you may use this visualization from this free excerpt from my book.
You Can Fix Codependency
Recovering from codependency is completely possible. It does take time and commitment but with daily practices, you will heal.
The first steps to fix codependency are to make the commitment to focus some of your time, energy, and care on yourself. You do this with a daily practice of self-care even if you just commit to a few minutes a day at first. As you lay the foundation for a loving relationship with yourself through self-care, you start to set boundaries. You do this around your time at first. Then as you gain more commitment to your own wellbeing, you set these boundaries in your relationships in other ways. There are many resources to continue to heal and set boundaries. You may find lots of support in the free articles on this blog.
You may also choose to check out my books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle, and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence.
In September 2023, my newest book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will also be available.
In the meantime, I’m sending you love on your healing journey!
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her third book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will be released September, 2023.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to email@example.com or DM her on Instagram.
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