by Diane Linsley
One of the biggest challenges for some of us who are trying to
I'm going to assume that you have a basic understanding of what
codependency is. If not, there are many good books on the subject.
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.
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, and it became my mantra for child-raising.
Now, many years later, I believe that my son came into my life to help me overcome codependency. It took a long time for me to learn my lessons, and it was very painful. But I'm grateful for what I learned because it changed my life.
A Story about Codependency
James Jones tells a story 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 may feel angry or frustrated. Anger is the emotion we feel when we've been codependent with someone.
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, 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 to be free that I let go of all the other ropes I had been holding onto. Lots of codependent relationships came to an end, and only the healthy relationships remained. Over time, the relationship with my son transformed 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
This is a sobering thought. Being in relationship with someone who's at a lower stage of development can be 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 feel frustrated. But if they look deeply, they may see that they are really angry with themselves for choosing that person from a place of codependency and then spending their life trying to fix them.
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. 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." I worked for many years to overcome codependency before I was able to end an unhappy relationship with a Love Avoidant. I became aware of my love addiction when I read Attached by Amir Levine, which describes the three attachment styles - anxious, secure and avoidant. Love Addicts are anxiously attached, and Love Avoidants are avoidant. These polar opposites are often 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 recognizing the difference between love and attachment.
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. 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 toward 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.
Affirmations for Ending Codependency
Here are some affirmations that helped me let go of codependent attitudes and adopt more resourceful ways of thinking and acting:
People are smarter than I think. They have the ability to solve their own problems.
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 their own pace.
People can believe what they want to. It's not my job to change their beliefs.
I can uplift and enourage people without trying to control their feelings.
We each have our own soul lessons to learn. My soul's journey is unique to me.
I only give advice when it's asked for.
My example alone is enough.
Final Thoughts on Ending Codependency
In life, you get what you focus on. This is basic Law of Attraction. However, there are limits to what you can get. For example, you can't change other people.
If you want to live a happy life, focus on changing yourself. When you are busy working on your own personal growth, your relationship problems will naturally receed as you focus on the only thing you have control over - yourself.
Here's a quote that I picked up from somewhere 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."
Different Enneagram types display different types of codependent behavior. Do you get codependent with others by giving them physical objects or by doing things for them? Maybe you prefer to give ideas, emotional energy, or the attention of your presence.
There's nothing wrong with giving our gifts to others. But when we feel frustrated because other people don't accept what we want to give, or they don't give back in the same way, this is a clue that we are engaging in codependency.
It's imperative that we become aware of our own behaviors and work on changing them. We also need to change the vibration of our energy. 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 change is awareness, and meditation is the time-tested way to increase awareness. Here's a codependency meditation to help you have an experience of what it feels like to be grounded in your own energy.
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