Codependency: how do we let go?

by | Sep 9, 2020

“Codependency” happens when one becomes dependent on another person or controlled by the needs of another person. Recovery from codependency is key to having healthy relationships.

Often the codependent may say that if my partner or child would just change, I will be ok; however, codependency is a sign that you are not living a life in personal balance. The focus becomes on “the other” as either the source of happiness or unhappiness in life.

People become addicted to other people in the same way that we become addicted to alcohol or drugs or other compulsive behaviors. “Seeking” something outside of you is not the way to feeling whole or happy.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that emphasizes the belief that with the latest new medication, exercise, diet, podcast, etc., that we are going to find the answers that we are looking for to fix what is wrong inside of us.

Along with that is the theory that if I find the perfect partner, or if my children are on the ideal path and are doing well, all will be good with me, right?   Our experience with “the other,” meaning another person, can be disappointing and limiting if we are not in a good personal space with ourselves.

The capacity for joy comes within us first and not just from our experience with another person. If we can’t experience joy within ourselves, no partner or other relationship can create happiness within us.

Happiness between two people gets created when both can find a familiar place together to create it. Often it comes from an offering or invitation to join into a pleasing activity; a smile or a laugh can be infectious!

One person makes the offer, and either the other(s) step into that moment or the moment is missed.  People become addicted to drugs, nicotine, food, sex, and other things to satiate needs. Just as people become addicted to these things, we become addicted to the feeling of being in love.

We all know there is nothing better than meeting someone new and the roller coaster of butterflies and excitement that comes from a new relationship. The “love hormone” oxytocin is released during the romance stage of a relationship, so in essence, we are experiencing a lift in brain chemistry similar to drugs.

Once that phase of the relationship has passed, we move on to a more mature part of the relationship, and that’s where the work of really getting to know each other begins. As soon as we have declared love for another, the vulnerable state of an open-heart begins.

Often in love, we are filling up needs that come from longing for connection that may stem from unmet needs in childhood. We bring ourselves with all of our previous life wounds to relationships as adults.

Codependency develops when we seek in another person what is missing in us – wanting a relationship to heal the loneliness, insecurities, fears, anxieties, and depression from the past.

To reach true satisfaction in our connections with others, we need to bring a complete version of ourselves as a person to a relationship, thus bringing the capacity to connect and experience happiness with others.

Just like the idea of the perfect diet or medication is the fix for the part within us that needs help, our culture reinforces the belief that if we find an ideal partner or companion that our life will be complete. Without peace in ourselves, we may look for too much in another person.

It is a set up for the other person; looking for companionship is different than looking for a person to complete our lives and fill us up emotionally. The fantasy that we will find perfection in another person is just that a fantasy – people are human, and have their flaws.

Partners and loved ones can enhance our lives, but if we are looking to be held up or fixed, or are seeking only what we want, it is asking too much from another person and may set up feelings of constant disappointment and fear.

Accepting people as they are will allow for happier connections.   On developing a healthier approach to relationships Know who you are and be known. Partners, children, friends, and anyone else we find ourselves in a relationship with are there to share experiences with us. Joy comes from the shared space that gets created when people participate in a relationship.

Knowing yourself and your values and what you like and dislike are essential to being happy in a relationship. Sharing with your partner about what your values are, what motivates you, what brings you peace – these are important to communicate so that your partner knows who you are.

Identify your wants and needs so that you don’t keep your loved ones and partner guessing or making assumptions.   Speak your truth with an open heart The way to get needs met in a relationship is to be open and honest when you feel something that needs to be communicated.

Learning to notice when you need to talk something and then speaking up for yourself can change the dynamics in a relationship. Communicating from the most honest and heartfelt place inside of you will bring others closer to you.

Connecting comes when people take risks to share openly and honestly about the truth that lives inside all of us.   Have healthy boundaries come from having that sense of your wants and needs.

Conflict can occur in a relationship when one person has not set a boundary that needs to be set. If I feel that another person has not respected who I am or what I want or need, I need to say something.

Just the act of saying “no” that does not work for me, or I don’t agree with you is setting a boundary. When we always go along with another person, we can become deferential to others, which sets up a power dynamic.

If this continues, resentment can build in a relationship.   Let go of expectations Expectations of others can be a set up for disappointment. Everyone has their wants and needs in life and sometimes what I may want conflicts with what you want.

If I expect you to do or say something and you don’t want to, my expectations are not fulfilled. The truth is that people get to be who they are, not who we want them to be. I can ask something of another person, but that person gets to decide whether they choose to do it.

Bring joy and create invitations Having happy moments in relationships depends on all involved to bring something of themselves to the relationship.

If you want to feel joy, bring it! One way to create moments in relationships is to create invitations for fun and spontaneity with your partner and loved ones.

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