Codependency is a term that has been used primarily to describe some of the common characteristics and behaviors that occur in people who are closely involved with an addict. These traits, which include excessive levels of tolerance for damaging behavior from their addicted loved one, a tendency to try to "rescue" or save the addict from his or her behavior, extreme caretaking tendencies, and a sense of responsibility for the addict's choices can all fall under the heading of codependency. These same traits can be found in other relationship dynamics where one person is behaving in destructive ways, such as in abusive scenarios. Here are 3 tips for overcoming codependent tendencies:
1. Consider it an act of love to allow the person you are protecting, defending, or making excuses for to face responsibility for his or her actions. The fact is, by trying to control his or her behavior, by shielding him or her from consequences, you become part of the system that allows these behaviors to continue. Without consequences, your loved one has no motive to change.
2. Begin to take better care of yourself. Make a conscious effort to shift focus away from solving your partner's problems, and consider your own needs in terms of diet, vitamins and supplements, and exercise. Eat healthy, unprocessed, organic foods whenever possible. Take vitamins and supplements according to your naturopath or other health practitioner's recommendations. Fish oil and a food based multivitamin are a good start for many people. Exercise according to your doctor's recommendations, ideally doing 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 times a week. These activities not only focus on you and improve health, but send your mind the message that you are worth the effort and care.
3. Begin imagining your own life, your own dreams and aspirations, and spend regular time focused on that rather than focusing on what your loved one is doing. Allowing yourself to spend some time daydreaming and fantasizing about your ideal future in detail – how it will look, sounds, taste, feel, and smell – will increase your motivation and likelihood of seeing it manifest in reality.