How to stop being co-dependent

Co-dependency robs you of your autonomy and control.

Human beings are social creatures; we cannot exist in a vacuum or in isolation from others. This means that we rely on others for survival and success. We rely on doctors and psychologists for our health and well-being, we rely on farmers for the food we eat, and so forth. Although depending on others may be good in some instances, it’s bad in others.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes co-dependency as excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction. Co-dependency robs you of your autonomy and control. It’s also used to describe a pattern of prioritizing the needs of relationship partners, or family members over personal needs and desires. If you think  you’re in a co-dependent relationship and need to break away, here are a few tips to help you:

Observe your behavioural patterns

Look closely and observe patterns you have created that have allowed you to be in co-dependent relationships. What we allow continues. Being observant of past behaviour will help you trace some of the reasons why you have allowed certain behaviours to continue.

Set boundaries

Once you have successfully identified behavioural patterns that have allowed you to be in co-dependent relationships, start setting boundaries of what you will and will not allow. This may not be easy when you have already made people feel comfortable with your support. However, if you have to, be firm and stand your ground.

Learn how to say no

Saying no can be really hard, especially if you don’t intend on hurting or disappointing others. However, if you’ve made an observation that your co-dependent relationships were a result of your many yeses, it is time to step back and practice saying no.

Prioritise your own feelings

If you’re truly uncomfortable with doing something, simply don’t do it. Before attempting to offer your help, ask yourself the real reasons why you’re offering help and whether or not you are comfortable.