Let's start caring for your emotions!
Tune in and join me as I chat about how to understand and manage your emotions.
I'm an emotional health mentor, edu-preneur and coach who loves teaching you how to understand, manage and embrace your emotions.
Sharing is caring!
Hey everyone! Welcome to another episode of Time of Feel. I’m your hostess, Holly Soulie, and today, we’re going to talk about overcoming codependency.
When you find out you’re codependent, it can be a little shocking. That was definitely the case for me.
But once I knew, I could start taking steps to work on it and try to overcome it.
So, to start off, I want to share with you the moment where I realized I wasn’t healthy in my relationships.
Back in 2011, I was doing a semester abroad in China.
And even though I was studying marketing, I had regularly Skyped with my pharmacist father back home to ask him questions about my homework.
When I went to class the next day, I mentioned to my professor that I had asked my dad about the homework. Her response was, “Is your dad the source for everything in your life?”
I had apparently been talking about him a lot, but I didn’t realize it was enough to have ever given someone this impression. Also, it really was silly to ask him questions on the topic I was studying. He had absolutely zero knowledge or expertise about marketing!
In that moment, I was so ashamed. I remember going back to my apartment and crying because I was so upset with this realization. At that point, my dad really was the source of everything for me.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I wasn’t very independent from him. In fact, when I researched “how to be independent from your parents,” I discovered codependency.
So, what is Codependency?
Well, I found on Psychology Today that codependency is defined as a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.
Yikes. Reading that, I knew it described what I was experiencing.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do. But a switch had been turned on inside of me. So, I decided to start finding ways to become more independent and to emotionally rely less on my friends and loved ones.
Here’s how I did that.
The first step was that I Started Getting in Touch with Myself as an individual.
Because, one of the problems with codependency is something called enmeshment. That’s where you lose sight of where you begin, and where the other person ends.
So, I decided to start journaling to figure out who I was. This was the simplest, cheapest way I could start spending quality time with myself.
Every day, I wrote down the question, who am I? And each day I would record my response. Sometimes it would be a drawing, sometimes it would be words. Whatever came to me that day is what I would put down.
As I started doing this daily exercise in my journal, I began to spend more time with my own ideas of who I truly am in a way that no one else could define for me.
Also, I started discovering what I wanted for myself.
And it helped me see myself more as an individual, and less as someone who was merely quote on quote codependent.
So, step one was that I started getting in touch with my individuality.
Step #2 was that I started Addressing all of my Uncomfortable, Repressed Emotions
When I was journaling, I realized that I had a lot of repressed emotions toward my dad, especially. And they were really deep and intense.
Actually, according to Psych Central, painful emotions are one of the symptoms of codependency. And when these emotions become too much, you can actually feel numb, which is what I was experiencing.
At that point, I had years and years worth of pent up emotions toward my dad – literally a lifetime’s worth – that I first of all, was never allowed to express. And second, I never even let myself acknowledge their existence.
I was just numb to all my feelings back then. Honestly, they were pretty overwhelming, and I just didn’t have the skills to work through them myself.
So, I decided to reach out.
That was step #2, I started addressing uncomfortable, repressed emotions.
Then, step #3 was that I Talked to Someone about it
Since I was a student with little income, I couldn’t afford seeing a therapist. Ideally, that’s what I would have done at the time if I could have. But because our society still doesn’t value mental healthcare the way we desperately need it to, I started where I could, which was by talking to people I loved and trusted.
I opened up to friends about what I was going through, and they helped support me and validate my experience. Telling my friends helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, that other people struggled with codependency, that I wasn’t crazy and there wasn’t anything wrong with me. And the more I discussed it, the more resources I discovered.
This is when I met an affordable counselor. I started having sessions with her about every two weeks. We would discuss my issues and she would help me get clear with my emotions.
Between getting support from friends and seeing my counselor, I was able to build a foundation of independence and self-esteem.
That was step #3, that I started talking to people about trying to grow out of codependency and building a support system for myself.
Next, step #4, I began discovering my Boundaries and setting them in my Relationships
As I was growing stronger in my sense of self and working through my emotions, I realized it was time to define my boundaries and to set them in my close relationships.
So, I started asking myself what was ok for me and what wasn’t. I would check in with my emotions to point me in the right direction. Then, I slowly worked up the courage to verbalize those boundaries to the people around me.
For example, if a family member tried to put me on a guilt trip, I would tell them that I would continue the conversation only if the guilt was left out of it.
This part was a HUGE adjustment for me. Because, up until then, I was so deep into my codependent habits, that I would never communicate when I disagreed with someone, if I had an issue or if someone hurt my feelings. I would just ignore those things and keep them inside.
But as I kept working on it, I became more and more clear about what my boundaries actually were. And as I learned what was ok for me in my relationships and what wasn’t, I started making it my reality.
So, step 4 was to discover my boundaries and start setting them.
The final step was that I Became Dedicated Long-Term to working on my codependent habits.
So, even though I discovered I was codependent many years ago, it still took me a long time to get to a place where I felt healthier.
Personally, I was raised on extreme codependency. And to get healthier, I had to learn by teaching myself what healthy looked like, and by practicing new patterns and habits.
Most importantly, I had to become dedicated to improving my own behaviors for the long haul because they were so ingrained in me.
So, remember to be patient and give yourself time as you overcome codependency. It’s totally possible, but it’ll take time.
The beautiful part is that when you start working on it in the tough relationships (like for me, with my parents), your growth and inner work also translates to your other relationships as well.
To recap, the 5 steps were, first, to start getting in touch with yourself as an individual. Two, address uncomfortable, repressed emotions. Three, get professional support and talk to people you can trust about it. Four, discover what your boundaries actually are, then start setting them. Five, remain dedicated to this process longterm.
I want to end by saying that codependency can be a super heavy label. And I don’t think it needs to be that way.
Back when I first discovered I had a lot of codependent tendencies, I was so ashamed and shocked. Even though I saw myself as very independent, the truth was that I relied heavily on others to feel good about myself.
As I got to know who I was as Holly, an individual, a lot of that codependency went away. But the truth is that overcoming codependency is a long-term project. And it doesn’t have to be shameful.
At its heart, it’s just a journey of discovering who you truly are on a deeper level.
You’re not worthless if you have codependent tendencies. Your value is not determined by this. And getting to a place where you feel independent, strong and healthy is absolutely possible.
That’s all for today’s episode, thank you so much for listening.
If you’re trying to heal codependency and figure out what your boundaries are, check out my video course called Discovering Your Boundaries. Podcast listeners can get 20% off for the month of January with code PODCAST20. Visit courses.hollysoulie.com to come learn with me today!