How to Stop Being Codependent (15 Smart Ways)

by April Maccario

Codependency is a difficult subject to understand if you have never heard of it. Learning how to stop being codependent takes a lot of self-discipline and motivation to make changes

Typically, you learn how to be codependent through the relationships you have been in throughout the course of your life.

So, how can you begin overcoming codependency best?

To begin with, understand what codependent relationships look like. Often, when seeing a codependent relationship, you’ll see one partner “emotionally carrying” the other. For example, at a party, one partner may be unable to have conversations without the help of their partner. This type of reliance means there is a kind of codependency happening between two people.

One person is counting on the other to help them be able to function. This isn’t always a bad thing, as many people have strengths and weaknesses. However, when these dependencies grow to be unhealthy, this is when codependency rears its ugly head. 

Once you recognize your pattern of codependent relationships, check on your relationship expectations. Learn what healthy boundaries look like, so you can begin to see them in your life. Finally, work through any issues with a mental healthcare professional. But there’s more!

How to Stop Being Codependent

1. Learn to be self-confident

Since we aren’t born with self-confidence, it’s a skill you can learn - provided you believe in yourself. Practice talking to yourself in the mirror, building your own confidence with the words you say during self-talk, and believe that you are enough. In other words, you only need yourself to get through each day; you don’t have to depend on others. 

For some people, this is a physically impossible idea because they suffer from a disability or some other illness. For this article’s sake, this is speaking of those of us who struggle with happiness, as we rely on others to make us feel a certain way. Instead, look inward for your happiness. Don’t expect emotions to be filled by another person.

Keep in mind that we do all need people, but we don’t need someone else to make us feel confident. Sure, it helps, but it’s not the only requirement to feel true happiness.

2. Challenge yourself with goals

challenge yourself with goals

If you have recognized that you struggle with codependency, you should learn how to overcome this. Once you have realized it and decided to do something about it, you can create small goals for yourself to achieve that will ultimately lead you toward your goal of being completely independent.

For example, if you struggle with social anxiety, you might want to challenge yourself to reach out to someone each day, even if only for a moment. 

You may want to say, “Today, I will talk to someone on Facebook or at the supermarket for 10 minutes.” This has given you a tangible goal to try to accomplish each day. Build from there, challenging yourself more and more as time passes. 

3. Learn to make your own decisions

Frequently, people in a codependent relationship expect someone other than themselves to make their decisions for them. While this may not be physically harmful, for argument’s sake, relying on someone for your self-care or other needs, things you could handle yourself, can make your relationship dysfunctional. 

4. Motivate yourself with daily affirmations

This can be an especially advantageous exercise if you give it a real shot. Tell yourself that you are able to do anything you set your mind to. In other words, you are able to do anything! Be motivating, and use the power of positivity to make each day a new experience - an adventure! Find a list of affirmations online to help get you started!

5. View yourself as an individual person

It’s easy in long-term relationships, especially in a close marriage, to “mesh yourselves” together as a single person. You do the same things and may even think the same things. This doesn’t mean you are the same person. 

Rather, you are each a single individual capable of your own thoughts, actions, and feelings. Find acceptance in this, and you will go much farther than relying on another person for your happiness and completeness as a person.

6. Accept responsibility for yourself

You may feel like much of your behavior is not your fault. In fact, you may easily be able to pinpoint which relationships affected who you are today. However, just because you feel like that (and perhaps, it’s true) doesn’t mean you aren’t to blame. Accept responsibility for the things you have done, are doing, or will do in the future.

It’s much easier to deal with things that are within your control than it is to push the responsibility onto another person, which shifts the blame and accountability elsewhere. It’s much wiser to own what you have done and do something about it!

7. Broaden your horizons

Sometimes, to become less codependent, you need to work on yourself and what you have to offer the world. How can you best learn to stand on your own two feet? Consider adopting a new hobby or passion. Find out why everyone’s talking about Marie Kondo. The point is that you should try new things with new people to better balance yourself.

8. Determine if you rely on someone else for your happiness

In order to determine if you have a codependent relationship, you’ll want to examine the dynamics between you and the person you are in a relationship with. Is there enabling or unhealthy meshing happening with one or both of you? What needs to change for you to rely only on yourself for the way you feel?

9. Stop allowing others to determine how you feel

stop allowing others to determine how you feel

You may have someone in your life who puts you down, calls you names, or disregards your feelings. This may make you feel very insecure, unbalanced, or depressed. Watch how people in your relationships treat you and how you respond to what they say or do. No one should have the complete power of control over you or your relationship.

There should be a give and take in all of your relationships. If you allow someone other than you to control the way you feel, there’s something wrong in the relationship. It’s normal to feel down if your partner had a bad day, but it’s not okay to let someone ruin your day by calling you a name or something equally harmful

Have healthy people who treat others with respect in your life. Don’t let negative people dictate your mood, or you may feel down more often than you would like to. Create your own destiny by carving out a healthy path just for you each day. Use your positive affirmations to build yourself up when someone tears you down. 

10. Check out some valuable self-help books

Some of the top books right now on codependency include the New Codependency by Melody Beattie and Conquering Shame and Codependency by Darlene Lancer. Melody Beattie has several books on the subject of codependency that should point you in the right direction, along with many exercises to help you cope with codependency well.

11. Join a 12-step program

Many people don’t see 12-step programs as being useful or relevant to their situations. If you have become a codependent person and want to know the best ways to stop this behavior, learning straight from the mouths of other codependents is probably your most accurate source of information. A codependent person can give you first-hand advice!

It’s hard to just stop being codependent; you need others there for support - people who have already tried to stop being codependent on their own. They know what you have to face, conquer, and stop doing. They have direct experience and can best guide you on how to stop being in a codependent relationship or to stop the behavior altogether.

Not all support programs are equal, either. If you find that doesn’t do the trick for you, try a different one. Some codependency groups are combined with other 12-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous. Often, these groups are known as “Celebrate Recovery” and are held at local churches. Sometimes, a big group can be less overwhelming. 

12. Learn something new every day

Many times, people who struggle with boundaries in relationships combine their personalities with those they are closest to. Instead, you should try to be an independent person with independent thoughts and experiences. Watch the news for a cycle or check out a news-worthy website each day to keep up with current events.

By learning something new each day, you become your own person, someone with unique, individual ideas, dreams, and interests - different things to focus on. This will not only help your current relationship, but it should benefit all the relationships you are a part of. You really have little to lose by giving this a try, right?

13. Turn experiences into adventures

Each day, with every experience you go through, you are creating what you will out of it. Maybe, to you, the car you are in just passed a boring old tree, but perhaps to a different person, it’s a beautiful green butterfly filled with magical creatures. The perception of what you experience in life is completely up to you, so look closely at your surroundings.

So, how does being creative help with your codependent relationship? Many people in these kinds of relationships have trouble with their self-identity. They don’t know what to talk about or how to start a conversation with someone new. Having greater adventures or experiences that you turn into adventures will give you more to talk about. 

14. Expand your education or personal knowledge

expand your education or personal knowledge

Like the last point, this is a great way to have more than one topic to talk about with the person in your relationship or someone you want to get to know better. Have a variety of subjects to talk about. This will not only make you more interesting, but it will ease any social anxiety you may be feeling because you’ll feel more confident in what you say.

15. Seek professional help

As with any mental health concern, if you fear you are headed down a dark path, it’s always smart to see a mental health professional before anything bad happens. There really is no harm in giving it a try; with the right therapist, you may discover coping skills you have never heard of or thought of. The benefits are quite bountiful. 

FAQs

What are the signs of a codependent person?

There are many signs associated with having codependency, including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, high stress, and difficulty expressing oneself emotionally. If you are experiencing difficulty in assessing your own self-worth, you may benefit greatly from seeing a mental health professional, such as a trained therapist.

What is the cause of codependency?

Some people develop the traits of a codependent person as they mature. Many times, codependent behavior is learned during one’s youth. Often, as we become teenagers and young adults, we develop addictions to substance abuse along with codependency issues. Multiple addictions become quite common as we grow older. 

What are the 12 steps of codependency?

The twelve steps of the Co-Dependent’s Anonymous Program begin with admitting you are powerless and that your life has become unmanageable, and end with carrying the message to others who need it while practicing these principles throughout all of your affairs.

What is codependency?

Codependency often is used to describe an unhealthy relationship, characterized by having one caring, high functioning individual with a significant other who exhibits more destructive behavior. Combined, these two people form an enabling relationship, where one person is dependent on the other for his or her happiness.

What does a codependent relationship look like?

If you are in a codependent relationship, you (or your loved one) probably depend on someone other than yourself for your well-being. You may depend on family members or friends to make you feel happy or complete as one unique individual person. Instead, you should look inward for happiness.

To Sum Things Up...

As you’ve now learned, being in a codependent relationship can be very unhealthy. If you see relationship red flags, pay close attention so you don’t make the same mistakes more than once. If you see any serious warning signs, like severe depression, make sure you seek help right away!

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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