Codependency can simply be described as helping others while harming yourself. Have you ever found yourself in a relationship where you felt as if you were going “crazy?” Have you ever found yourself excessively worried, preoccupied or even obsessed with your partner’s problems?
Codependency involves reactions which are unhealthy forms of attachment in a relationship and may contribute to anxiety disorders, depression, addictions or domestic violence.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I see the pain, anger and sadness these codependent behaviors cause first hand. I often recommend a book to clients by Melody Beattie titled Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. The author describes many definitions and behaviors of codependency because it may feel and look different for each individual.
Learning to love, care and be involved without going crazy comes from a practice Beattie calls detachment.
Try out these early steps of detachment, which Beattie suggests:
- Learn to recognize when you are reacting. A good indicator is experiencing overwhelming negative feelings that you attribute to someone else “making you feel” that way.
- Make yourself comfortable. Ease your anxiety, restore peace and serenity with healthy coping skills.
- Examine what happened. Talk with a safe person. Tell yourself the truth about what happened. Did someone sock it to you? Are you controlling? Did you not get what you wanted? Is this the end of the world or are you just sad?
- Figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself. Do you need to apologize, let it go, have a heart to heart? Slow down, set yourself straight and realize only what you are responsible for.
I encourage couples to seek professional help as well if they are experiencing unhealthy forms of attachment. Counseling can provide a safe space to learn how to take care of yourself and your partner in a healthy, loving way.
Porsha Jones, LMFT