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By: Aleesha Washington, LPC

Would you consider yourself a nice person? Maybe someone that is giving or selfless? Although those are excellent qualities sometimes when they are done at the expense of your own comfort and happiness they become unhealthy behaviors. Maybe you have low self esteem, struggle with perfect performance, feel you must give people advice, have issues with control,

Or have a difficult time relaxing? You might have unmanaged co dependent traits.

Codependency is defined as characterized by excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction. This is the type of relationship we may see on shows like, “My 600-lb life” where there is an enabling party and one that suffers from the habit of overeating.

In each codependent relationship there is a giver and a taker. The giver suffers because they are slow to prioritize themselves because of the inner desire to be needed or chosen. These individuals have a difficult time stepping away to allow others to help due to issues of control. They often overwork, have a lack of boundaries and entertain one sided or abusive relationships. Codependent people think that they are helping others from the goodness of their hearts but they’re actually trying to manipulate the outcome of certain situations. It is unfortunate but someone with codependent traits often will give and serve others even when their physical health, mental health, and finances are at stake.

How can someone manage co dependent behaviors? Recovery options for codependent people consist of a few steps .

1. Get back to yourself

Somewhere along the way you lost yourself. This is partly because of guilt. When choosing self over others there is guilt associated because of obligation. There is a personal rule that you’ve been following that says, “I don’t do this for them, they will leave me”. This has left you feeling worthless and always pursuing validation from others.

Positive self talk is a tool used to encourage, validate and affirm yourself where you would previously criticize yourself and get yourself down.

During this next stage, learn what you like, voice what you need and take time to do it for yourself. Document your journey so that you don’t lose sight of how valuable your interests and needs are.

2. Create boundaries

During the worst parts of your codependency you didn’t have many boundaries and allowed people to walk all over you. This was all done out of fear of abandonment. It is important during recovery that you don’t allow poor treatment from other people, no matter the relationship.

Others were so conditioned to hearing yes from you that they may be reactive when you tell them that you cannot do something for them. Stay strong during this time or reach out for support. You are no longer a slave to guilt and you will soon be independent of those loose boundaries. Remember, your needs are important, you are valuable and worthy, and you are enough regardless if you’re doing something for someone or not.

3. Communication and control

The first sentence of recovery is “No.” It is okay to tell people no when you don’t have the capacity to show up for others. “No” is a boundary that says “I love you but I can’t right now.” This task may be difficult because you may lose control of the outcome. Recovery relies on your ability to stay in your lane and focus on what you can control.

Unfortunately, you can’t control the future, no matter what you do for others. Live for today, control what you can, and let life handle the rest. You’ve been under the bondage of perfectionism and insecurities for long enough. It’s time to tell the little negative voice in your head to be quiet and trust that you are able to let go of control and everything will work out fine.

If you are someone who puts others before yourself, enjoys being the hero, and believes sacrifice is a service, there are people who can help you to build habits to begin putting yourself first. Feel encouraged to reach out to a local 12 step group or maybe individual counseling to help overcome codependency.