Overcoming Codependency
by Diane Linsley

One of the biggest challenges for some of us who are trying to
develop self-compassion is to overcome codependency.

I'm going to assume in this article that you have a basic under-
standing of what codependency is. If not, there are many good
books on the subject. I recommend Melody Beattie's Codependent
No More and John Bradshaw's Bradshaw On: The Family.

My introduction to codependency came via a parenting course by Dr. James Jones that I took when my son was 7 years old. My son was born with ADHD, and raising him was difficult from the beginning.

Now, 28 years later, I believe that this child came into my life to help me overcome codependency. It took me many years to learn my lessons, and it was very painful. But I'm grateful for what I learned because it changed my life.

According to James Jones, "Codependency is doing for another person what they can and should be doing for themselves."

This is the best short definition I've ever heard. It became my mantra for child-raising. I referred to it every time I had to make an important decision regarding my children.

A Story about Codependency

James Jones tells a story about codependency that has always stuck with me:

Imagine that you are innocently walking down the road, when you come to a bridge. There's a guy standing on the bridge, and he hands you one end of a rope, saying, "Will you hold this for a second?" Then, holding onto the other end of the rope, he jumps off the bridge.

Holy crap! You look over the side of the bridge and see him dangling above a deep chasm. He yells up at you, "Don't drop the rope, or I'll die!" Now you're stuck. You need to get back on the road because you have an important mission to fulfill, and there are people waiting for you in the next town. But instead, you are stuck here with this idiot. How do you feel?

Naturally, you are angry. Anger is the emotion that we feel when we've been codependent with someone. If you are angry with someone in your life, ask yourself how you have been codependent with them.

So, what are you going to do now? Innocent people, including yourself, are going to suffer if you stay stuck here forever.

You decide to drop the rope. And you know what happens next? You wake up, and you realize that you were living in an illusion. That guy's life was never your responsibility.

Codependency and the Law of Attraction

I was raised from birth to be a codependent. Every relationship in my life was based on codependency. It took until my son was 20 years old before I learned how to drop the rope for good. I had dropped it plenty of times before (I had lots of practice, thanks to the parenting course), but I kept getting suckered into picking it up again.

Then I started meditating, which increased my awareness and made it easier to let go of old habits. Awareness is the beginning of the end of codependency.

Once I dropped the rope permanently, I was so happy that I let go of all the other ropes that I'd been holding. Lots of codependent relationships came to an end over the next few years. Only the healthy relationships remained. And my relationship with my son transformed over time into a healthy one.

This is how the Law of Attraction works. I didn't set out to sever the old relationships. They simply dissolved naturally when I stopped doing the behaviors that were feeding the cycle of codependency. I was no longer a vibrational match to those relationships.

Codependency in Intimate Relationships

In Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, James Hollis asks, "How many marriages are in service to the hidden agenda of the less psychologically evolved of the two?"

This is a sobering thought. Being stuck in a relationship with someone on a lower level of development can be very frustrating. Codependents often end up in frustrating relationships because they confuse love with pity. They waste a lot of time and energy trying to help the other person grow up.

When the other person doesn't change, they get angry. But if they look deeply, they may see that they are really angry with themselves for choosing that person from a place of codependency.

In Transformation through Intimacy, Robert Augustus Masters descibes the 4 stages of relationship: ego-centered, codependent, co-independent, and being-centered. After reading this book, I had a better idea of what is possible in intimate relationships.

Codependency is an underlying problem in love addiction. In Facing Love Addiction, Pia Mellody says, "The treatment for codependence seems to be a necessary prerequisite to an effective recovery from love addiction. This is because a Love Addict with insufficiently treated symptoms of codependence is virtually unable to recognize the dynamics of love addiction, or to abstain from the addictive parts of the relationship and endure the withdrawal process."

This was certainly true for me. I worked for many years to overcome codependency before I was able to end a miserable relationship with a Love Avoidant. I recommend reading Attached by Amir Levine, which describes the three attachment styles - anxious, secure and avoidant.

Love Addicts are anxiously attached, and Love Avoidants are avoidant, of course. Sadly, these opposite polarities are fatally attracted to each other. The only way out of this painful cycle is to become secure, which requires a lot of personal growth work and an understanding of love and attachment.

Codependency and the Inner Child

Codependency happens when you try to care for someone else's Inner Child because they are neglecting it. If we all focused on caring for our own Inner Child, we would be much happier :)

Remember the quote: "Codependency is doing for another person what they can and should be doing for themselves." Holding a crying baby is not codependency. Taking care of young children, the sick or the elderly is not codependency. There are plenty of people who really do need your help. So don't get stuck holding the rope for a narcissist on a bridge.

As my children got older, I expected more and more of them, according to their ages. Our expectations of people should be geared towards their stage of development. Codependents tend to underestimate what other people are capable of. They may also be afraid of losing a relationship if they expect the other person to be responsible.

Here are some thought-provoking affirmations for overcoming codependency.

Affirmations for Overcoming Codependency

People are smarter than I think. They can take care of themselves.

I take care of myself and allow other people the privilege of taking care of themselves.

I trust in the Law of Attraction to bring each of us whatever matches our vibration.

There are natural consequences for every action. I don't have to punish or chastise people.

This earth school is a place of learning. It's not about being perfect.

When I am gone, the world will continue just fine without me.

People learn best from their own experience.

Personal growth comes from solving problems. I allow other people to grow.

Each person learns at his own pace.

People can believe what they want to. It's not my job to change their beliefs.

We each have our own soul lessons to learn. My soul's journey is unique to me.

I can uplift and enourage people without trying to control them.

I only give advice when it's asked for.

My example alone is enough.

Codependency and Self-Compassion

"We are only upset with others not providing us something to the extent that we're not providing that for ourselves." ~Katherine Woodward Thomas

Until we develop self-compassion, we will continue expecting our relationships to fill the void. The main work of recovery consists of learning how to take care of ourselves and set boundaries.

Here's a quote that I picked up from somewhere (probably social media) to lighten the mood:

The codependent's mantra: "Some people try to change themselves. Some people try to change others. I try to change very obstinate people so I can suffer more."

Overcoming codependency isn't just a matter of changing our conscious behaviors. We have to change the vibration of our energy, too. People subconsciously pick up on our vibration. Until we change at this core level, we might as well be walking around with a neon sign that says, "I'm a codependent. Please take advantage of me!"

How do you change your vibration? The beginning of any change is awareness. It helps to have an experience of what it feels like to be grounded in your own energy. Here's a grounding meditation to help you make this shift. It's good for stabilizing your energy and increasing self-confidence.

Be well,
Diane Linsley

As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
people with their personal growth. Click here if you are
interested in coaching with me.


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