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Now, I want you to call to mind the image of someone around whom you find it challenging to be your truest self. Notice how that feels. Does it illicit any sensations in your body? Any tightness? Any heaviness? Take a few more deep breaths and then let that image fade. If that last part left you feeling less than settled, this is a great time to do the practice we talked about in episode 17 of completing that stress cycle. Give your body a good shake, maybe cross your arms over your chest and hug yourself.

Rock yourself back and forth a little bit. Maybe jump up and down.

This exercise is a powerful way of getting into our bodies and of tapping into the knowledge that our bodies hold about how our relationships impact us emotionally, mentally, and physically. As we talk more about codependency, I want to invite you to hold on not to the specific sensations that you felt just now but rather the deep wisdom that our bodies and breath hold and the power that we have when we harness these tools. When we listen in closely to our bodies, we can start to notice patterns that we otherwise tune one. And our breath can bring out awareness that our minds try to keep quiet.

As I flesh out these ideas for you, I would encourage you to pause as needed if a particular experience rings true or familiar to you. Instead of turning this podcast off and throwing your phone across the room, close your beautiful eyes, take a few deep breaths, and see if you can stay present to all of this information. It can be really challenging to face these things, to start to see these patterns of thinking and behaving that we were often taught so long ago in our lives.

And so the other person, the other partner in this dyad in turn may need to feel needed. Codependency is more than clinginess or neediness. This dynamic can create a cycle of dependency that can lead to abuse, and thus the other in a position of power. Often, the thought, if I then they, is the driver for someone to act in a codependent manner.

Co-dependency Guarantees Unhappiness

You feel what you feel because you think it, and so do other people. In the case of merging identities, one or both partners in the relationship begin to lose themselves in the likes, dislikes, preferences, or opinions of the other to the point where the self is lost. Rather, in a situation of codependent thinking and behavior, a previously autonomous self would define preferences, likes, and dislikes, loses their connection to those preferences and gives themselves over entirely to the preferences of another in order to attempt to keep the other person or satisfied, or, worst case scenario, to stave off abusive behavior.

In this situation, the codependent partner has given up their autonomy, the ability to self-direct what they like in favor of letting the other have control. For all sorts of humans, and particularly those raised as girls or those assigned female at birth, the message about pleasing others above all can be hard to ignore.

When we are told that our job is to keep others happy, we can fall into the trap of focusing so much on the happiness of others that we can back-burner or deny entirely the things that bring us joy and happiness or can come to accept things that, in reality, cause us harm and suffering, that leave us feeling separate from ourselves and our identities. I remember one relationship I had in the very early s when I was living in Boston.

So I was living this new life, recently graduated college, in this grad program and I was going to the gym five or six times a week and felt amazing in my body. Exercise has long been my balm against depression and anxiety and I was really clued in with it. Sitting and reading was good and going to the gym meant you were some dummy. But anyway, I gave that thought priority over my own desires. I so wanted this person to like me and approve of me, so I stopped doing a thing I loved and my mental and physical health suffered for it. My thinking was codependent. This was completely unconscious, let me be very clear.

All of this was so ingrained in me from my family of origin, I had no idea I was doing it and I was so focused on doing and being what I thought this person wanted me to be and do that I lose sight of my own desires. Eventually, I found myself having trouble making even the smallest decision because I wanted to make the right choice in their eyes and lost touch with my own thoughts about what I wanted for myself. I came to value their opinion of me over my own.

I was neck-deep in codependent thinking and that relationship did not end well. Hearing these kinds of stories can be really activating and I want to continue to invite you to stay with me. So close your beautiful eyes, take a few deep breaths, and see what your mind and body tell you about the idea of merging identities.

It may bring up a past or present relationship. It may bring up your family of origin, your childhood or something that you saw your parents or aunts or uncles or others doing around you. Just notice. Alright, my love, stay with me. Another sign of codependency in a relationship is a narrowing of the support system of one or more of the partners in a relationship. For a codependent relationship to thrive, a partner needs to give themselves entirely to the other, to the point where individual autonomy gives way to full dependence on the other.

What does it mean to be codependent?

An antidote to this habit, thought pattern, or tendency is to have and to stay connected with a broad network of support in the form of meaningful and positive friendships. Friends keep us connected to ourselves and can also keep us in check if they see us giving away our autonomy to another. In healthy relationships, this is a phase, and as the relationship grows in strength, it expands to include the friends and family of the partners involved. When relationships stay closed, insular, that can be a sign of codependency, a sign that one partner needs to keep all of their opinions and influences out so that theirs can rule the day.

I recently worked with a client who was in a relationship with someone in active addiction. Her world had grown so narrow, in part because she felt like she had to take care of the addict in her life; words she often said to me. Similarly, the addict she was in a relationship with had come to believe that he could not function without his partner, so had given up on taking care of himself in certain ways, thus reinforcing this story that she needed to care-take him. Over time, my client and I were able to work on building and rebuilding her friendships and balancing care for her partner with care for herself, paired with lots of thought work about the stories she was telling about her attempts to save another human from their own adult decisions, which is actually not possible.

Our thoughts create our feelings and we take action based on our feelings. Whatever her partner was thinking would lead to his actions. And her desire for him to think, feel, or act in a specific way was futile. We get to let adults be adults, no matter what we want them to do. Something that I mentioned at the top of this episode was the idea that when we strive for literally impossible things, like profound independence in relationships, we can end up in unhealthy places, like codependency. What I mean is that nature, our minds, bodies, and spirits holds enormous wisdom.

And when we insist on going against our own natures, our natural pull to engage on others, to depend in a healthy autonomous way, on our friends and lovers, to remain autonomous and respect the autonomy and sovereignty of others, relationships can end up warped, like bent metal. And codependency is one form that warped relationships can take. Again, for those of us raised as girls, the idea of independence can be a super complicated one. How do we make these two ideas work? We can think instead in terms of autonomy, of respecting our power to govern ourselves and manage our own minds as well as the powers that others have to govern themselves and manage their own minds.

Of course, we get to stay flexible in relationships. If you always insist that you choose the restaurant when you eat out with friends, you may end up dining alone more than you care for.


But if you think about the core of your relationships as being built upon a foundation of mutual respect for autonomy, we can show up for one another confident in ourselves and ready to meet others where they are. Another way to think of relationships built on mutually respectful autonomy is interdependence; the sort of relationship we see all the time in the natural world. Those bees need those flowers and those flowers need those bees, but that particular relationship, that interdependence, is not what defines the life of either partner because members of the relationship have other relationships too.

Fruit plans rely on insects to spread their pollen and animals to spread their seeds. When we as humans come together it interdependence, we acknowledge that, as pack animals, we really do need one another for survival. The difference here is that in interdependence, we see that we need one another in more general terms, as opposed to needing one and only one specific other human being who can and will meet our every need. That way of thinking can turn pathological. By contrast, when I see my network of friends and loved ones as people upon whom I can depend and who can depend upon me for different things at different times, I situate myself in the center of a beautiful web of interdependence which provides a more broad and stable support system for me and for those in my orbit.

Holding onto the thought that my partner meet all of my needs puts far too much on them and leaves us both set up for disappointment, resentment, and frustration. Taking a broader view of what it means to depend on others opens me up to see what gifts others have to give and to share my gifts broadly too. Breathe into it. Feel it in your body, how it feels to connect in with them.

That feels beautiful. Thank them, give them some love, and let their image recede. Now, think of someone in your life who makes you laugh. Take a few deep breaths, feel it in your body, how it feels to connect with them, thank them, and let their image recede.

6 Red Flags That You're Codependentand What to Do Next | The Everygirl

Now, call to mind someone whom you can count on in an emergency. Take a few deep breaths. Feel it in your body, how it feels to connect with them, thank them, and let their image recede. Now think of someone you miss and want to reconnect with. Take a few breaths, feel it in your body, allow yourself to connect with them in your own heart, in your own mind.

Feel how it feels to connect with them and let their image recede.

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How absolutely beautiful. Codependency is a big topic with a lot to it. From the author of the New York Times bestseller Adult Children of Alcoholics -- a wonderful book that affirms and encourages AcoAs by developing skills for living. Imagine how good you would feel if: You could stand up for yourself without losing your Pages: Size: Read Online.

Pages: Size: Kb. At work, they oversee every detail of every project and expect nothing less than perfection from their coworkers.

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At home, they obsess over finding Brings healing wisdom to those whose lives are most directly affected by the addiction or destructive behavior of a loved one. Explains how the Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous are relevant for Jewish people and all people who would gain strength to With more than half a million copies sold, "Fat is a Family Affair" is recognized as the benchmark text on family dynamics and eating disorders.