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    Counseling for Codependency

    Exhausted. Hopeless. Emotionally drained. Confused. Depleted.

    Does any of that sound familiar?  My clients often come in seeking help because they feel this ‘emptiness’ in their relationships that they just can’t pinpoint.  They are stuck on a merry-go-round of helping, feeling loved or appreciated, only to then feel rejected so they step up the helping game, hoping ‘this time will be different’.

    With help, you can get off and stay off the merry-go-round for good.

    You might be thinking ‘asking for help feels so foreign or wrong’.  I get it.  When you have spent so much time taking care of others, helping people with their lives, trying to solve everyone else’s problems, taking a step back to take care of yourself can seem ‘selfish’ (and a lot of times this is a message you have been taught or told).

    You deserve to be taken care of and helping yourself is NOT selfish.

    “I’m just trying to help – why is that so bad?” When looking at codependent behaviors, it’s important to notice how YOU are feeling in the relationship and if YOUR needs are being met.  It is okay to be helpful and supportive, but when it becomes one-sided and you forget about your own wants and needs, this leads to resentment, frustration and difficult relationships to maintain.

    Codependent behaviors can occur in any relationship.  Here are some examples of the different faces of a codependent relationship:

    In a parent-child relationship it can look like:

    • Canceling your own plans in order to appease your parent’s demands
    • Allowing your parents more access to your life than is age appropriate
    • Rescuing your adult child from negative consequences or feelings
    • Feeling a sense of purpose from financially supporting your adult child
    • Avoiding confrontation, or talking about the family problems or behaviors

    In a romantic relationship it can involve:

    • Neglecting your own self-care, wants and needs in order to care for your partner
    • Avoiding confrontation or bringing up difficult topics in order to ‘protect’ your partner from experiencing negative emotions
    • Losing your self-identity separate from your partner, forgetting what you actually enjoy doing
    • Wanting to ‘help’ or ‘fix’ your partner

    In a friendship it can show up as:

    • Being indecisive and always relying on your friend to make decisions
    • Putting your friend’s needs before your own
    • Feeling resentful when your friend doesn’t ‘care’ the way you do
    • Frequently dropping everything you are doing in order to help your friend

    At work it can look like:

    • Devaluing your work and having a fear of ‘doing it wrong’
    • Avoiding your own work in order to help a coworker complete theirs
    • Taking on more responsibilities or working extra hours
    • Becoming frustrated when you aren’t recognized for all of the extra work you are doing

    Boundaries can be hard and tricky

    My clients often ask why it’s so hard to set boundaries.  The reason usually comes from what we saw and experienced growing up.  Those who were raised in dysfunctional families, have toxic parents, grew up witnessing drug or alcohol addiction are more likely to have learned that boundaries are ‘unnecessary’, ‘selfish’, ‘rude’, or ‘harsh’.  The truth about boundaries, though, is that they are a necessary part of relationships that help foster safety, self-identity, trust and respect.  Some areas to explore that you might need to strengthen or set boundaries are: physical boundaries (if people get too close in your bubble), emotional boundaries (those people in our lives that can be an energy or emotion suck), sexual boundaries (your expectations and level of comfort around intimacy), and financial boundaries (not loaning out money you don’t have, or being able to ask to split the bill if needed).  If you find yourself overcommitting to activities, uncomfortable in a situation, feeling taken advantage of, hurt that people don’t care the way you do, or resentful for caring too much, it may be time to explore codependent behaviors and how to set boundaries. Unlearning some of the lessons you received growing up can be tough, but with help it is possible.

    Unhealthy Boundaries

    • Expecting others to know what you want or need.
    • Saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’.
    • Avoiding expressing your thoughts, feelings, or opinions to avoid conflict.
    • Feeling driven to help others solve their problems

    Healthy Boundaries

    • Clearly asking for what you want and need from others.
    • Saying ‘no’ when you don’t want to do something or are not able to help.
    • Being comfortable changing your mind.
    • Knowing when someone else’s problem is theirs to solve

    How do I change?

    If any of the above situations or statements resonate with you, click here to set up your free consultation to get started.  Treatment for codependency involves learning a lot about boundaries and saying ‘no’.  This can feel really uncomfortable in the beginning, but with time and practice you will be able to reclaim your life

    If you are tired of other people’s problems being your problems and want to reclaim your life, click here to get your free consultation set up.