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Codependency: Relationship difficulties between family members and between friends.
- Understand signs of codependency. There are many signs and most of them are related to boundaries. Like boundaries with personal "physical" space (ie. standing too close to someone in an elevator) people in codependent relationships interfere with others by invading emotional space. When you realize you feel uncomfortable when asked for help, a person close to you is always needing help and you are the main provider for comfort or any other support, or feeling pulled in many directions by the people closest to you.
- Explore books about codependency and its effects on the family and relationships. Look for material on the Internet and gain an understanding on the causes of the relationship difficulties.
- Codependent parents, for example, may rely on their grown children in unhealthy ways, reversing the parent-child dynamic. Pulling away from this dynamic is a positive move toward establishing healthy personal boundaries. It does not mean that you're a "bad" son or daughter, even if the parent claims that this is the case.
- Learning how to communicate our needs can help set those needed boundaries. When feeling frustrated, say "I feel frustrated."
- If your needs aren't respected, don't allow the intense needs of the other person to determine your own
- The best way to move out of a codependent relationship is to stop focusing on the other, and to focus on yourself and your health. When you put your need to grow, mature, and become a healthier person first, that will create a shift in your codependent relationship. Be aware that doing this work will destabilize the relationship and make things harder before it makes them better. Imagine you and the person with whom you have a codependent relationship are roped together and standing on ladders next to one another. As things are now, you are stabilized--on the same rungs on your ladders and the rope around you both is taught. You understand the unspoken rules of how you interact. Now, when you begin to get healthy, begin moving up your ladder, the other person in the relationship will feel the pull of the rope and try to pull you back down, may even move down her / his ladder a rung or two to get to you move back to where things were. This is normal. Continue your work to grow, mature, and become healthier.
- Eventually the other person will have to begin getting healthier as well or will have to rethink the importance of the relationship. (and generally, most folks will choose to get healthier, thus making the whole thing less codependent)
- If the other person does not come to respect your needs and/or growth, however, the healthiest choice is to maintain your boundaries and make choices that are independent of their needs. In worst-case scenarios, curtailing contact may be necessary for personal growth.
- Watch out for increased drama as you try to grow and mature, and to defend your healthy personal boundaries.
- Watch out for public attempts at sabatoge, which really is a codependent way for the other person in the relationship to embarrass or shame you into moving back down the ladder.
- It will hurt to move up your ladder of health, and it will feel like you are hurting the other person. Think of it more as the pain of healing an old wound, knowing the end result will be better for everyone concerned.
- Be honest about what you are doing and why, but know that you will most likely not be understood by the other, who will be so focused on pulling you back into old patterns.
- Codependent individuals, particularly partners and family members, may act out, blame you, or be manipulative in order to maintain their power. This is particularly true as you try to pull away and re-define your boundaries. Be prepared and hold firm to your health. Adults are responsible for their own well-being. They may not overcome their Codependency, but they will survive your move toward health.
- If you feel that they truly are acting out in response to your healthful progress in ways that are dangerous, encourage them to seek counseling.
- How to Be a Good Parent
- How to Have a Good Family Life
- How to Be Respectful of Your Family
- How to Aid a Sick Family Member
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