Codependency recovery can feel overwhelming but to simplify this you will learn various tips to do so in this article. My book, The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence, will guide the information in this article.
Codependency Recovery is Possible
This article will focus on codependency recovery. If you first want to learn more about what codependency is please read the article, “The meaning of codependency and how to find healing.” Fundamentally, codependency occurs when a person overly prioritizes other people over themselves. This can manifest as people pleasing or fixating on solving others’ problems to give a couple examples.
Healing from codependency is possible with commitment to practicing various steps and skills. The goal of recovery is to become interdependent. When a person is interdependent, they are both self-sufficient and intimate with others. In their self-sufficiency, they know they are responsible to firstly, care for their own needs. Then as needed they know they must communicate these needs with others clearly and kindly. An interdependent person understands it’s human to have needs from others. They also know they are not a burden. They know it’s a sign of a healthy relationship to communicate your needs.
Strategies to become interdependent
In my book, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle, I outline the five steps of recovery. These steps include developing better boundaries to stop seeking approval from others as much and to learn how to have healthy relationships with others.
There are many skills you can use to practice these steps. In this workbook, you learn skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to guide the practices of recovery. CBT is a highly effective therapy model at supporting people in overcoming negative thought patterns to change their life. This approach is valuable as codependency is often reinforced by negative thoughts. For example, a person in their codependency may falsely believe that communicating their boundaries will lead to total abandonment.
Codependency Recovery Tip #1: Set measurable goals for yourself
Recovering from codependency requires a lot of courage and dedication. Often, with this passion to heal, people set goals such as never being codependent again, loving themselves, or having healthy boundaries. These are all wonderful goals yet, as they are both large and vague, it can be hard to achieve these goals.
In The Codependency Workbook, you are encouraged to consider your long-term goals but to break it down into smaller short-term goals. You can complete a short-term goal in less than a year. For example, if you want healthy boundaries, you could set the short-term goal of identifying and setting one boundary with your partner. Then, your long-term goal could be to set authentic, healthy boundaries as needed.
Codependency Recovery Tip #2: Challenge and Replace Your Negative Thoughts
In codependency, a person commonly has many negative thoughts. These thoughts may criticize themselves, fixate on others’ lives and problems, or be highly anxious. It does take time to heal a pattern of negative thinking but a good step towards recovery is to begin this work.
There is much to say on this topic and a good portion of The Codependency Workbook addresses negative thinking patterns. The first step for healing your thought patterns is to become more aware of your thoughts which reinforce codependency. These thoughts could be related to taking what other people say personally, commonly thinking about the worst case scenario, or being rigid in your thinking just to name a few.
The first step is to become aware of your “thinking mistakes” as they are called in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The most common thinking mistakes in codependency are described in the workbook. Once you are aware of yours, then you can practice managing them using the various exercises in The Codependency Workbook. One such approach is to put things into perspective by exploring the facts of the situation.
Related: What is self-compassion?
Codependency Recovery Tip #3: Be Mindful of Your Triggers
Anxiety and codependency often are interconnected. Therefore, it’s necessary to become aware of your triggers for anxiety. For example, a person may become so anxious in their codependency to be single, that they stay in relationships they know are not healthy. When a person becomes aware that this is a trigger for their anxiety and codependency, they can then find strategies to work through this to support them.
In the workbook, one way to work through these triggers is to practice exposure therapy. Basically, this is working up towards your biggest trigger with smaller steps. If you’re nervous to assert yourself at work, lets say, then one smaller step could be to let your server know if they overcooked your food first. Another strategy is to plan ahead for you will respond to the situations that make you nervous.
Codependency Recovery Tip #4: Develop Conflict Management Skills
A person is often scared of conflict in their codependency. This may lead to them being a people pleaser. However, to overcome this, they must accept the truth of human relationships that misunderstandings and anger will arise at times. Learning how to accept this truth and manage conflict skillfully is essential for learning how to become interdependent.
In The Codependency Workbook, you are provided numerous case studies to consider to highlight a healthy, interdependent way to manage relationship problems. You will consider your own needs. Once you know your needs, you can both communicate these while being a thoughtful listener.
Healing from codependency
It is truly agonizing living in codependency as the constant backdrop of life is insecurity, anxiety, and resentment. However, recovery is completely possible. I’ve recovered from codependency and have helped countless clients recover as well. At the same time, please be gentle with yourself as you begin to recover. It takes time, commitment, and practice to heal.
You will make mistakes as you recover, and beyond, as this is human. However, when you are interdependent you are more accepting of your emotions. You understand the value of self-care and let go of the idea that it’s selfish. You soothe your own emotions. These practices of self-care and self-soothing are self-love in action. You then are able to find ways to accept your setbacks with grace while still working to be present to those in your life.
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. Your name and any other identifying information will always be kept confidential.
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