In my previous article, I discussed how codependent people can begin a journey towards healing. Codependency is a “relationship addiction” in which people become so preoccupied with their partners that they neglect themselves. If you suffer from codependency, you might feel that it is impossible for you to be happy outside of a particular relationship. However, there is hope for codependent people. Beginning the journey of healing involves recognizing your codependent patterns, making a commitment to invest in your own healing, understanding where your codependency comes from, allowing yourself to experience emotions, and learning to set boundaries. In this article, I continue this discussion by suggesting more concrete ways in which you can recover your true identity and live in the freedom for which you were created.
Examine Your Motivation for Helping Others
What motivates you to help others? Do you want to be noticed and liked, or to win people’s approval? Or do you care for others out of fear or guilt? Codependent people feel good when they are needed; in fact they need to be needed. But this means that the focus is on satisfying your need to be needed, rather than on the person you are helping. Examining your motivations for helping others will give you insight into your codependency. It can also help you to change, enabling you to feel fulfilled and energized when you help others, instead of feeling burdened and stressed. You need to start seeing that your worth and value is based on who you are in Christ, rather than on any service you perform.
Lay Aside Your False Self and Embrace Your True Identity
Trying to establish a sense of identity based solely on your relationships will prove to be disappointing and frustrating. No human being can provide your identity for you, for your identity comes from God and is something that you need to discover for yourself. Growing in a healthy way entails cultivating your own identity and developing your passions, interests, hobbies, dreams and desires. Your opinions and ideas matter and need to be cultivated as you learn to value your true self.
Search for Wholeness in the Right Places
The lie of codependency says: “I will be whole if I am in relationship with this person.” The codependent person believes that, “If I can control people, then I can control my feelings and make myself feel better about myself.” However, if we look below the surface, codependency can involve a life lived in fear, for any wrong move can cost you your relationship and therefore your happiness. As Christians, the only way for us to find wholeness is in relationship with God. God promises us peace and freedom when we follow him. As you come to appreciate how powerful his love is, the approval of people will begin to lose its grip on you. In relationship with God, we can find the security, love and value that many are yearning for.
Say No to Fear
Underlying much of what motivates codependent people is fear, including fear of being alone and being rejected. Letting go of being in control is frightening. Yet it is by letting go that we learn to break the hold that codependency has on us. Letting go also provides a great opportunity to build your trust in God. When we let go of hurt and pain, there is more space for us to receive God’s goodness and wholeness in our lives. God desires to take care of us, and He loves ministering to the broken hearted. Receive God’s care for yourself today, for he is ready to help you fight your battles and wants to provide you with rest.
Ask Directly for What You Want
People who struggle with codependency tend to be indirect and don’t easily express what they want. Begin to take risks and be vocal about your needs and desires. Instead of making assumptions, and negatively reading the thoughts and intentions of others based on your own perceptions, ask people directly if you are confused or have questions. Talk openly about your hurt feelings or worries in order to lessen the resentment that builds up when we keep things bottled up inside.
Establish Healthy Relationships
During a time of healing it is especially important find healthy friends who can support and encourage you. Healthy friendships are those relationships that are based on mutual giving and support. You need friends who will tell you the truth and be honest with you. Joining a support group or church group may be a way to help quench your thirst for community and fellowship.
Christian Counseling Can Help You to Recover from Codependency
This article has suggested steps that you can take to break free from codependent patterns. As you can see, codependent behavior has deep roots in our own history and relationships, and the road to healing will involve coming to greater self-knowledge as you seek to alter your own behavior patterns. Christian counseling can help you to discover your true self, as you heal from past trauma and strengthen your relationship with God. If you are want help addressing your codependency issues, I would love to come along side you in this healing journey, so that you can feel freedom, peace and confidence in your life again and heal from the past.
All from freedigitalphotos.net; “Damaged Heart On Old Paper” by fotographic1980; “Hand Holding Seedling” by zirconicusso.<