Codependency refers to a relationship where a person is too needy or dependent upon another person. Codependency is more than just being clingy to a person all the time. Codependents will basically plan their entire life to please the other person (the enabler) at the expense of sacrificing their own needs and well being. They lose themselves in the process as they derive all their happiness, self-esteem, and self-worth from meeting their partner’s needs.
I remember when I was in my early-20’s, someone I was in a serious, long-term relationship with had suddenly broken up with me out of nowhere. There weren’t any signs that he was unhappy. In fact, we had even just returned from a wonderful trip together. I was completely blind-sighted. It actually felt like emotional whiplash. I felt confused, hurt, angry, and I was heartbroken. At the time, I couldn’t understand what happened. We met and entered a relationship a few months after his younger brother committed suicide. He was coping quite well with the situation at the time, but I had wanted to be his emotional support for whenever moments of grief surfaced. I felt it was my duty as his partner to be there for him. It felt natural to prioritize his needs over mine, as I had thought that’s what being in love meant. And it is, but I didn’t quite realize how over and beyond I had gone. I felt he was allowed to be in a bad mood whenever he was because he had to cope with his sibling’s sudden death in his 20’s. I definitely put his feelings before mine because I felt his feelings weighed more. I made myself available to him 24/7. I canceled my plans just to wait around. I began to choose slower, safer options around everyday things and dimmed my light (which was the opposite of my personality back then) so that I could meet him at his pace and comfort level. Though it could’ve ended less abruptly, I was glad that it did come to an end as it gave me the opportunity to reflect on myself and come to terms that I wasn’t happy with myself or the relationship either.
I didn’t realize how I was losing myself and had little to no boundaries when it came to him. I also didn’t know I had measured my self-worth around his love for me at the time. After we broke up, I learned from a therapist that I was in a codependent relationship with him. At the time, I was attracted to people who were deeply emotionally wounded because of my strong desire to be there for someone, and the amount of help I was able to give, and the attention I received from them determined my self-worth. It was a pretty twisted realization, but a huge one, and healing around it changed me forever. Learning to heal from codependency as someone who is an empath was hard. Where do you draw the line, and how?
But it was time for me to step up and take care of myself better before I could consider entering any new relationships and for them to have a good shot at being healthy. I committed myself to focusing on what I called “Project Me” and not date at all to avoid any distractions. I needed to focus on self-healing and rediscovery of who I was. I got so intrigued with the process along my healing journey that I decided to take another year off and another, and it wasn’t until four years later that I even considered dating someone again. I was much more whole, better, more confident, and self-aware. I felt enough as I was and wasn’t looking for external validation anymore. I was clear on what I wanted and needed and what I was happy to give, without giving myself away. I practiced healthy boundaries, and my partner did the same. That new relationship after my four-year no dating break was drastically different from all the others I had been in before. It was massively healthier, balanced, and wholehearted. There has been ample love, trust, and deep respect for each other. We support each other, empower each other, communicate well and feel secure. We give each other a healthy amount of time apart doing the things we individually love, and when we spend time together, we’re much more present for each other. He has since been my life partner, and we’ve been together for nine years and counting. Of course, it’s not always blue skies and sunny all the time, but the important thing was we were both willing to put in the effort to work hard on our relationship, which was and could never be the case in any codependent relationship. I dove deep into some wonderfully effective practices during my holistic healing journey through codependency, which I’m sharing more about below. It was also partly this experience that I’m so grateful for that contributed to my interest in energy healing again after being introduced to it when I was young.
It is essential to know that depending on another person is different from codependency. Two people relying on each other for love and support is a positive thing. In a codependent relationship, a person usually feels a lack of worthiness or even feels worthless unless the other person needs them. The enabler is simply satisfied from getting their needs met by the codependent.
Signs of Codependency
It may be hard to differentiate a person who is just very enamored with another person with someone who is codependent, but a codependent frequently will:
Stay with someone in a relationship mainly due to fear of abandonment even when the enabler is doing hurtful things
Only find happiness or satisfaction in doing things for the other person.
Always anxious about the relationship because of their desire to continually make the other person happy.
Exert all their energy and spend all their time giving everything that the other person is asking for.
Abandon their own principles or conscience to do what their partner wants.
Will not express their own needs and desires because they feel guilty thinking about themselves in their relationship.
Most of the time, a codependent thinks that the only way he or she could gain the other person’s love is if he or she always put the other person’s needs first. On the other hand, the enabler just gladly accepts this, and so the cycle continues. Both parties can also be codependent. When left unaddressed, codependency can worsen, and their relationship with other people, their career, and everyday responsibilities can suffer due to their extreme dedication to one person. The good news is, a person can heal from codependency.
Mindful Ways to Heal from Codependency
Healing begins from within. It starts when we acknowledge that there is a problem and learn to care for ourselves. Codependents must give compassion to themselves and set a goal to change their mindset and act differently.
Mindfulness and meditation are useful healing tools as they can help reduce anxiety and enable you to focus on taking care of yourself. Both these tools certainly helped me. Mindfulness is the practice of keeping a nonjudgmental state of complete awareness of your thoughts, feelings, or experiences on a moment to moment basis. Mindfulness can help you stay hopeful by focusing on the present, instead of getting caught up by the guilt of the past or worries about the future. Meditation will help you be less reactive as you are training yourself to think about what matters to you instead of getting distracted from what’s going on around you.
Here are holistic, mindful, and meditation-related techniques you can do to overcome codependency:
Pay attention to natural pauses in your breathing to connect with your thoughts. Codependents neglect their own wants and desires. One of the meditation benefits is that it forces you to be alone with your thoughts and silence your mind. Begin by sitting down or lying down in a position you are comfortable with and close your eyes. Be aware of the physical sensations, feelings, smells, sounds, and thoughts that come up, but do not attempt to do anything about it, and breathe normally. By learning to be mindful of your own feelings and thoughts, you get a chance to explore what you really want and shift the focus from the other person’s need to your own.
Let go of negative thoughts so you can stop worrying about the approval of others. Lie down or sit down in a position you’re comfortable with. Close your eyes and start breathing as you normally would. Pay attention to your breath and notice its movement into your nose and out of your body. Feel how it leaves your body, and softly say “breathe” to yourself at the start of every inhalation and exhalation. When your mind wanders, acknowledge those intrusive thoughts as “not breathe.” Let go of the thought without judgment and focus your attention on your breathing. Continue this until you are done meditating. When you learn to let intrusive thoughts come and go and recognize them as they are, you will learn to manage the negative thoughts that keep you stuck in codependent behaviors.
Learn self-love so you would no longer be dependent on the love and approval of others. Connect with yourself and foster the self-love you deserve by meditation. Sit or lie down. Close your eyes and when you are ready, quietly practice affirmation phrases such as: “May I be happy.” “May I be free from fear.” “May I be filled with loving-kindness.” It’s important that these phrases resonate with you so word them in a way that is comfortable to you. Repeat the phrase or phrases that mean the most to you for two to three minutes. It might feel a little awkward to do this in the beginning, but if you’re manifesting in a way that is authentic and true to you, it’ll become second nature, trust me. Doing this will allow these seeds of self-love to grow and blossom within you over time, slowly changing the way your subconscious operates too.
Start a journal where you can record your thoughts on self-compassion. Come up with ways you can practice self-compassion and act upon them. Having self-compassion will help you convince yourself that you deserve to be loved and have your needs met.
Aside from mindfulness and meditation practices that you can do on your own, I’d like to invite you to explore emotional healing too. If you’ve identified yourself as someone who could be codependent or have already determined that you’re in a codependent relationship through a therapist, then it’s vital also to locate the reason for it.
What brought on codependency?
When did it begin?
Where did it stem from?
Who contributed to it?
How has it affected you?
Though it might require a ton of mindful exploration, forgiveness work, and emotional healing, I’ve found one of the most useful and effective ways through energy healing sessions. Through short 60-90 minute sessions that my then energy healing practitioner, now mentor, had facilitated, I left each session feeling significantly lighter, less hurt, and I had more clarity. I felt more inspired and more empowered. I was able to heal from wounds and see how unhealthy patterns had contributed significantly to these wounds. It was up to me to choose to heal from them to live differently and more meaningfully, and no one can do anything about it unless I made that choice. I had to learn how to love myself first and discover who I was (detaching from cultural, social, and familial standards) before committing myself to a healthy, functional relationship. And it was profound, life-changing, and in my case, career-changing. I’ve been lucky to have coached and facilitated Reiki Healing and Intuitive Energy Healing sessions for clients in codependent relationships or those coming out of one.
Healing can be done anywhere and through various methods. What I’ve shared above is what I’ve seen to be effective through my clients and from my personal experience but if these methods don’t speak to you, find something that works for you. What’s most important is your desire to heal within and commit to healthy changes first. More and better will come along the way.
If you’re curious to find support through energy healing, you can click here for an in-person appointment or online distance healing session.
Freeing yourself from codependency behaviors are crucial in getting the love and satisfaction you truly deserve in a relationship and being true to who you are.