Learning how to become independent can help you discover newfound confidence and overcome codependency.
Codependency can be viewed as an unhealthy reliance on another person that typically begins during childhood. However, the exact reason for codependency isn’t fully known.
Codependency may also stem from taking care of someone else’s needs who has an illness or a substance use addiction, but not always.
If you believe that you’re experiencing signs of codependency there are steps you can take to develop a healthy relationship, not only with yourself but also with those you love.
It can be difficult to overcome codependency. But the journey to living a more independent life will take patience as you relearn and discover what best supports you.
Consider the following recommendations as a starting point to help you along the way.
One definition of codependence includes a lack of clear personal boundaries. Codependent individuals often have difficulty knowing how to speak up for themselves and may sacrifice their personal needs for someone else.
Setting boundaries allows you to speak up for yourself, and shows that you can listen to your body physically and emotionally. It also establishes how you expect for others to treat and respect you based on your personal values and beliefs.
It will take consistent practice to build and maintain healthy boundaries. But as you identify limits that you’d like to set with yourself and others, you may become more independent and feel safe to express your needs.
Learning practical communication skills can help you when establishing healthy boundaries.
Whether you have a partner or need to communicate your needs in a friendship or with a family member, the need to set boundaries occurs in all types of relationships.
If you are a passive communicator, chances are you’re not getting your needs met, or you might go along with what anyone else might say to avoid conflict.
Practicing assertive communication will show that you:
- are aware of your needs
- can communicate those needs clearly
- can set and enforce clear boundaries
Consider giving yourself space to reflect on your thoughts before communicating with others, to help you express yourself confidently. It doesn’t have to be long, you may just take three deep breaths to offer yourself more time before responding during a conversation.
Codependent individuals often lack a sense of self. If you strive to be more independent, seek out hobbies you enjoy and do them on your own. Finding activities you enjoy can help you know yourself and your interests.
Activities and hobbies that you enjoy may include but aren’t limited to:
- writing in a journal
- painting or drawing
- taking a relaxing bath
- walking in nature
One practice that can help you overcome codependency is
If you’re in need of support, consider speaking with a mental health professional to help you discover activities that bring you a sense of joy and confidence.
Consider trying something new and being open to learning new skills. It may take some time for you to find activities that you enjoy, but it can bring you a sense of fulfillment.
Spending time in solitude, meditating, and recharging yourself can possibly provide you with a world of confidence.
A 2020 study found that solitude can positively impact emerging adults’ well-being and mental health when it is intentional.
The author of the study above suggests that time away from peers and other people allows one to regroup, away from life’s stressors. She also offers that the absence of societal pressures provides for a greater reflection of one’s thoughts, feelings, and values.
Spending time alone can help lower levels of depression, increase self-esteem, and build stronger emotion regulation skills. Solitude can help develop these skills without reliance on another person to know your thoughts, values, and feelings.
If you have codependent tendencies, it may be difficult to let another person make their own decisions. It can be tough to watch someone you care about make decisions that hurt themselves or you.
Remember that you cannot control another’s behavior; you can only control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Letting go of being responsible for others’ well-being can be very freeing.
It’s okay to find it challenging to be independent. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, setting boundaries and finding your own voice can be difficult.
Having codependent tendencies doesn’t mean you have something wrong with you. In fact, it often stems from caring quite a bit. The trouble with this is that the caretaking can extend beyond what one person can handle.
Codependent relationships can be up and down rollercoasters that are often hard for the person entangled with another. A qualified mental health professional can help you better understand yourself and relationships and teach you skills for setting better boundaries with others.
A mental health professional can also help you identify codependent patterns of behaviors in your relationships with others and help you get to the root of these behaviors.
If you need help finding mental health support, you can check out Psych Central’s Find a Therapist resources.
Independent and codependent are often viewed as opposites.
Sometimes people may take being independent to an extreme where they feel they can’t rely on or get close to anyone. Extreme independence can be just as unhealthy as having codependent tendencies.
But if you find yourself experiencing codependent tendencies, then taking steps toward being more independent can be beneficial and help you know yourself better.
If you recognize that you have codependent tendencies, there is support available, and healing is possible.
First, you may consider joining a support group for codependent individuals. CoDA or Codependents Anonymous is a 12-step-based group that offers in-person and online meetings. According to their website, their only requirement for membership is “a desire for healthy and loving relationships.”
There are also several books available that can help with overcoming codependent tendencies. If you’re interested, you may consider picking up one of these books:
- “The New Codependency“
- “Codependent No More”
- “The Language of Letting Go: Daily Reflections for Codependents“
- “Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes From, and How It Sabotages Our Lives“
- “The Road Back to Me: Healing and Recovering from Co-dependency, Addiction, Enabling, and Low Self-Esteem“
When you begin to recognize codependent behavior patterns and start to heal from them, you’re on the path toward developing healthier relationships with yourself and others.
You can recover by being honest with yourself and gaining support from others if necessary.