How to Recover From a Codependent Relationship
In a codependent relationship, both partners rely too heavily on each other for a sense of self-worth and often support each other’s harmful behaviors. Once you have realized a pattern of codependent relationships in your own life and have taken steps to end those relationships, it can be challenging to recover.
But healing is possible if you define your personal boundaries, discover your purpose and build your self-esteem.
Work on Yourself
Leaving a codependent relationship means you’ll be confronted with aspects of yourself that you have been afraid to face before. Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., writes on the Psychology Today website that in order to recover from the relationship, you must face your fears. Often, codependent relationships involve partners encouraging each other’s harmful behaviors, such as substance abuse, excessive spending, isolation and other habits that develop in order to cover up pain or trauma.
Examine your current behaviors and habits, preferably with a therapist, to better understand what your codependent relationship was helping you to avoid. Keep a journal that tracks your daily emotions and behaviors and note when you find yourself taking part in harmful behaviors. Figuring out your emotional triggers is central in recovering from a codependent relationship.
Discover Your Purpose
Once you have left a co-dependent relationship, you might find that you have lost your sense of purpose, since people in codependent relationships often see taking care of the other person as their source of meaning.
This loss of meaning can be a particularly difficult part of recovery. To heal from this loss, work on finding meaning outside of romantic relationships. Doing volunteer work to help others, finding a creative outlet and connecting to a spiritual tradition are all ways to find meaning.
Work on Boundaries
Codependent relationships often have poor boundaries. Boundaries refer to ways in which you set limits for behavior that you will accept from yourself and others. For example, if a friend consistently asks you to help him financially and you accept, you might be setting poor boundaries around money.
People recovering from codependent relationships need to examine their boundaries and determine out what kind of behavior they are willing to put up with.
Low self esteem is a common problem with people who are recovering from codependent relationships. To build your self-esteem, notice when you engage in negative thoughts or allow those thoughts to overwhelm you. Do you often have negative thoughts and emotions about yourself and your capabilities?
If so, challenge those thoughts by intentionally thinking more compassionate and loving thoughts about yourself instead. Challenge yourself daily to find one positive aspect of your personality or positive action.