Changing our long-standing thought and behavior patterns can be a long journey. Different approaches work for different people. I try to provide a variety of strategies to promote self-care and compassion. For some, a guided meditation, such as this one, can be a helpful tool in healing from codependency and learning to love yourself.
Codependency is an unbalanced relationship pattern; we put our time, energy, and resources into meeting the needs of another person, but this isnt reciprocated. Our needs get neglected. At its core, codependency is about not valuing ourselves and therefore, we focus our time and energy outward, on trying to help, change, and control others, and we tend not to notice or express our own feelings and needs.
Codependency is a painful experience. We often feel all alone in our struggles. We put ourselves last, which leaves us burnt out and exhausted. We allow others to take advantage of us, which leaves us resentful and angry. We accept emotional, verbal, and/or physical abuse which furthers deteriorates our self-esteem and reinforces our feelings of inadequacy. Weve been hurt repeatedly, so we struggle to trust. We arent aware of our feelings, so they dont get heard and validated. We dont love ourselves, so we attract people who dont know how to love us either.
Codependent patterns dont just go away. We dont outgrow them. And we cant stuff them down and hope they vanish. They also dont go away when we start a new relationship. Nor do they end if our loved ones get treatment or enter recovery. Changing other people does not heal our codependency. Codependency stems from trauma; its rooted within us, so we are the only ones who can heal it.
There is hope! A large part of our healing includes learning to care for ourselves. We need to let go of trying to control other people and situations and work on changing ourselves. This can be a hard shift because weve spent so long trying to change our loved ones and because weve labeled them as the problem and ourselves as the victim. And while its true that weve been victimized, we dont help ourselves by remaining stuck in a victim role.
The change we are striving to make is to love ourselves more. When we love ourselves more, we wont accept mistreatment, well assert ourselves, well take care of our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and in doing so, well stop worrying so much about others and let them live their own lives.
Healing starts when we care for ourselves, acknowledge our pain, give ourselves compassion, and set an intention to think and act differently.
Mindfulness and meditation can be powerful healing tools. They can help us reduce anxiety and focus on taking care of ourselves. By staying present focused (rather than getting caught up in worries about the future or guilt about the past), mindfulness can also help us stay hopeful. Meditation helps us to be less reactive; were training ourselves to think about what matters to us instead of being distracted by whats going on around us.
Below is a meditation that I wrote to help you heal from codependency. It acknowledges struggles common to codependency and I hope it helps you to feel stronger and less alone. Saying or reading this meditation will also reinforce some of the goals of codependency recovery: self-understanding, acknowledging your needs, detaching, self-care, learning to relax and enjoy, and self-compassion.
To get the full benefit of the meditation, find a quiet place to sit. Try to relax your neck and shoulders. Sometimes it helps to first tighten your muscles and then relax them. Take a few deep breaths and try to simply be in this moment.
I’ve spent most of my life taking care of and focused on other people. As a result, I feel burnt out and resentful. Now I am getting to know myself. Today I will listen to my thoughts and feelings. I will consider what I want and need, not just what others want and need. I will practice letting go of my desire to control and fix. Instead, I will focus on myself. When I get entangled in other people’s problems, I will shift my focus back to myself for that is all that I can control. Today, I will make time for self-care. I will do something that fills my body, mind, and spirit with goodness. I amlearning how to relax and have fun. I am practicing staying present in this moment instead of worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. My life isn’t perfect and neither am I. If I find myself obsessing about other people or enabling them, I will offer myself compassion. Progress is my goal, not perfection. I will continue to take small steps towards knowing and caring for myself. And I will offer myself compassion along the way.
Sign-up for Sharon’s free Resource Library and youll find lots of additional tools for healing and you’ll receive my weekly blog posts.
Article and photo 2017 by Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.