5 Codependency Exercises

This article will help us understand the concept of codependency and how it affects our life adversely. But more importantly, it provides us with the answer to the question “What are the exercises used to deal with codependency?” and many more interesting aspects about codependency. 

What are the codependency exercises?

To help deal with codependency some exercises reduce the impact of codependency and provide relief from its negative consequences.

  • Practicing Self Care and Growth
  • Improving  Decision-making Skills
  • Focusing on becoming Independent
  • Dealing with traumatic past

What is Codependency?

Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marr... x
Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marriage

We often misconstrue codependency as a problem arising due to relationship issues and many times people even look at it as if it is a disease. While it might have been true in the past when we considered the relationship dynamic of substance users and addicts and could be viewed as a relationship problem. But there is a catch, the problem does not lie in the relationship with others but yourself. It is our faulty relationship with ourselves that leads to codependency problems.

There are various symptoms of codependency but one of its core symptoms could be considered as an extreme and unhealthy dependence on a person, sometimes even substance or process (the process could be an activity such as gambling, or even sexual activities). When we are in control of this condition we lose our focus and faith in ourselves and start prioritizing someone or something else more than ourselves. Our life starts revolving around that other thing instead of ourselves which further deteriorates our condition. To overcome this debilitating state and reconnect with ourselves we need to follow certain guidelines and rules. Following are certain helpful changes we could make in our life to overcome codependency. 

Abstinence. 

Practicing abstinence or sobriety is vital in order to overcome codependency. This helps in shifting the focus and attention from others back to yourself. By doing this move you send out the message that your life is governed by your wants, needs, and values instead of someone else’s. While it is true that total abstinence is an impossible task as you do require some kind of dependence on other people in order to survive in life. But the goal here is to have a healthy level of dependence and even a certain level of detachment.  This detachment ensures that you don’t obsess, control, manipulate or spend your time pleasing others. Instead, you become a self-directed and independent person. 

Awareness

It is essential to be aware of one’s problem in order to deal with it. Often codependents are in denial of their problems and push the blame on others. They are also in denial of their own feelings and wants that cause them to live a very disappointing life. 

Often a person’s childhood experience contributes to the development of such complicated feelings and thoughts, If our emotional needs weren’t met or if we weren’t raised in an emotionally nurturing environment in our childhood we develop a warped concept of intimacy. Over time instead of longing for love that was never provided we tend to prioritize other people over us as we start considering ourselves worthless or undeserving. We might also develop some unhealthy and destructive habits such as substance abuse, eating disorders, sex addiction, etc. Therefore to avoid going down this path it is very important to be aware of our condition, needs, and wants and to appropriately acknowledge them. 

Acceptance

Another important step involves unconditional self-acceptance. Many times we are not happy with who we are or what we have become and reject ourselves. But acceptance is an integral aspect of healing and recovery. 

It is also an indication that you have decided to embrace yourself with all your flaws and do not worry about other people’s opinions or thoughts. It shows the world that you are no longer shackled by other people’s wants and needs and will only look after your own well-being from here onwards. Self acceptance helps in restoring your self esteem and also brings about many positive and healthy changes within you. You become stronger and assertive. Instead of being manipulative and obsessive, you learn to become rational and authentic. 

Action

While it is necessary to have awareness and be acceptable you also need to take suitable action to progress thighs further. This action is nothing but the new and improved behavior as the consequence of all the previous changes carries out by the individual. It also involves stepping out of your comfort zone and confronting your fears. It is necessary to try out new things or engage in activities you never explore. These new experiences will open new avenues for you and make you a new, improved and better individual. It also consists of establishing boundaries so that you can feel safe and create a healthy. Assertiveness is a quality that provides us with the ability o make our point and lead our life confidently. It also helps in developing our confidence and self-esteem hence we need to focus and act towards developing assertiveness. Because only when we learn to assert ourselves will people listen to us and respect our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. 

Exercises for codependency

Practicing Self-Care and Growth

We hear about practicing self-care every day and find it repetitive and tiresome and don’t give it much thought. But we don’t realize the potential gains that we could obtain from taking care of ourselves. Someone with codependent tendencies often prioritizes other people’s needs over their own making it difficult for them to take care of themselves. 

They often sacrifice their own wants and needs and end up being miserable. It is important to understand for such individuals that they are whole on their own and do not other people to find meaning in their life.  Self-care provides nourishment and enables growth and development of an individual. It also makes way for independence and empowerment which are essential factors in a person’s life. We can practice self-care by doing meditation, engaging in activities that provide pleasure and joy to us, or even creating a new and better routine can be considered as self-care.  

Improving Decision Making Skills

It has been observed that codependents have trouble with making decisions for their life. They are under the impression that they aren’t capable to handle this responsibility and might end up doing something wrong. This ends up affecting their confidence level and self-esteem.  But this only makes matters worse for them and further increases their dependency on others. To get rid of this behavior whenever a situation arises when you yu have to make a decision try to ask yourself, “What will be the best choice for me in this situation given my current circumstances?”. There might be instances when your decision will turn out to be wrong and you will have to bear the consequences. But that is just a part of the lesson and slowly you will end up with better decision-making skills. 

Focusing on Independence

Independence is almost like a foreign word for people used to codependency. But it is very essential to cultivate independent behavior in order to get rid of codependency. The person doesn’t need to begin exercising independence right off the bat in grand ways and gestures. They can start with small steps to help them get acclimatized to the situation. It could be going to the movies alone or even having lunch at a restaurant. You could also take a stroll in the park or visit places that you always wished to see. You could do all those things that you previously did with somebody so that you wouldn’t feel alone or uncomfortable.  This exercise aims to help you understand that being alone with your own thoughts doesn’t isn’t an unpleasant experience and we can enjoy things on our own as well without taking anyone else’s assistance. 

Dealing with Past Trauma

Past experiences that are traumatic in nature can often be a cause for the development of codependency. Therefore it is necessary to seek help for these issues immediately. These issues could play a role in affecting your self-esteem as well as confidence that in turn negatively affects your codependency symptoms. Therefore the sooner we resolve these problems the less it would affect our mental health. The best remedy for such issues is seeking therapy. Therapy is one of the best and most sought-after treatment methods to deal with mental and emotional trauma. It provides you with the necessary tools to combat all types of issues arising due to your traumatic past. Therapy doesn’t just help you deal with your past problems but also the current problems arising due to codependency. It could provide solutions and techniques to help deal with the negative aspects of codependency in relationships and help you achieve a healthy and fulfilling relationship. 

Conclusion

In this article, we learned about the exercises carried out to help deal with codependency and also learned more about its nature as well as the changes undertaken to overcome this condition. 

Frequently asked questions 

How do you beat codependency?

Following are a few important tips to overcome codependency

  • Try to understand the concept of codependency and its implications
  • The codependent relationship will showcase certain patterns and learn to identify the pattern.
  • Recognize and appreciate the healthy support provided by family and friends
  • Do not be afraid to establish boundaries.
  • Stay in your lane.
  • Reevaluate your support.
  • Recognize your wants and needs.
  • Learn to treasure yourself

Why do codependents stay in bad relationships?

Codependents have internalized the negative comments and opinions said by others about them and believe them to true. They think that they are unworthy, incompetent, useless, etc because others made them believe that. Due to the accumulation of such negative beliefs about self, they crave the love and attention of others and fear being alone or rejected. They measure their self-worth through the love or attention gained from others. Therefore it becomes very difficult for them to leave a relationship even if it is toxic as they fear being left alone or not being needed by someone. 

How do you break a codependent cycle?

Some healthy steps to healing your relationship from codependency include:

Practicing honesty in the relationship.

Getting rid of all the obsessive and negative thoughts 

Trying to think rationally and avoid being overly sensitive about everything 

Give yourself space and take breaks when needed. 

Seek Therapy to resolve inner conflicts.

Take support from friends and family

Set definite boundaries.

Is there a cure for codependency?

Fortunately, codependency is curable and can be eliminated with appropriate treatment. But it is important to remember that codependent relationships and the maladaptive behaviors arising out of them are not going to get better on their own. Research has shown that if timely intervention is not carried out then the symptoms could get worse.  Therefore it is very important to seek help immediately in order to treat codependency as it is a reversible and salvageable condition. 

What is a codependent person like?

There are two types of people in a codependent dynamic. There is a dependent person who is passive and unable to make decisions for themselves. On the other hand, there is an enabler who encourages and reinforces the dependent behavior of the other person. The enabler is the dominant personality in the codependent relationship who gets satisfaction by being in control of everything around them.

References

Darlene Lancer, J. D. (2016, May 17). Recovery from codependency. Psych Central. Retrieved January 16, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency#1

Tibbits, A. (2020, May 28). This simple exercise could help you manage codependent tendencies. The Zoe Report. Retrieved January 16, 2022, from https://www.thezoereport.com/p/4-exercises-to-overcome-relationship-codependency-according-to-therapists-22940789 

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