I have come to understand that the first step to change is understanding where you currently are and why you are where you are. Unfortunately, sometimes the biggest catalyzer for change is the pain we feel in the reality we are currently in or by the habits we are currently practicing.
“We Are Lovable
Even if the most important person in your world rejects you, you are still real, and you are still okay.”
After noticing the pain and disorientation I experienced from my previous habits and approach to life and my relationships, it was important for me to find a new approach to things in my life. I knew I wanted to have healthier relationships, with others, but especially with myself. I needed to start facing the insecurities and fears that had bundled up during my childhood. I found out truths about myself that were painful at first, but also freeing, at last, to know what was sustaining all the chaos. These are the approaches to life I needed to change or implement:
First of all, I needed to work on my relationship with myself:
I used to be very critical and judgemental of myself (but then again who wasn´t at this point?), especially being raised between cultures and often having little to no positive representation growing up. I knew that I needed to start by talking kinder to myself. This started before I even knew anything about the power of positive thinking, especially in regards to one’s own life. I started the hard process of self-approving and self-loving – the journey wasn´t overnight and each year, starting from my late teens and early twenties- I became a better and better friend to myself. Once my self-love well started filling up, it inspired other changes.
Become what I wanted from others:
Another thing that shifted my perspective as a codependent, was starting to look and become the things I desperately craved from others and especially in romantic relationships. Having started my self-love journey, I started loving on myself in other ways too; like taking myself on adventures or dates, starting to build my own personal integrity and living according to my values or the things I was passionate about. I also started preparing for an awesome life, regardless if Mr.right ever got to show up. A life that would make me happy without the dependence on any other person.
Setting healthy boundaries:
The more I started investing within, rather than in others or external factors outside my control, I realized that I had built within, enough care and trust to start being more assertive in my relationships too. I was less afraid of abandonment since I had the good company of someone who would always be there; Me. I began practicing saying no, especially no without feeling the need to justify why. The latter took a much longer time and practice, but finally, we got there. When you suffer from codependency and also happen to be very sympathetic or empathic to others, you seem to constantly attract people who feed on your lack of boundaries or lack of confidence and asserting what you want or don’t want. This is like living in a house you think is rainproof until it really starts raining. then suddenly you realize all the fixing that desperately needs to take place. I have now come to be very thankful for the people who push and test my boundaries, because they help me see how consistent and strong my boundaries are, or if we need to go back to the drawing board and patch up a few holes.
Taking responsibility for my life and choices:
The interesting thing about codependency is how it convinces you that being a victim is somewhat righteous or noble. That taking in hurt, meditating on hurt, signing up for disappointment or even difficult situations and relationships is something you should feel honor from. Because, there you are, always giving people more chances than they deserve, always expelling your energy to feed others who are not able to do the same for you. There you are spending time over and over trying to understand/excuse why people might treat you poorly, so again, you can be more “compassionate” and able to help them become better, more healthy and therefore better for you. There you are playing yourself, unfortunately.
The truth is, however, that you don´t believe you deserve the love you so desperately give and seek. You don´t believe that there are actually people out there ready to have healthy and mutually healing and beneficial relationships with you. Relationships where you also are allowed to be weak sometimes and where you don´t have to fear to speak your mind.
Victimhood is believing that everything that befalls you has to go through someone else, not only the bad but also the good. You can not believe that you can actually be in charge of your life and choices and that you can aim and work for bettering your life simply by choosing to become the person you have been waiting to come and save you all along. To imagine that this is it and you are it and that you better start making some moves or others will do it for you. To take center stage and the director seat in your own life. While I do believe in community and the effect humans have on each other, for better or for worse, a major part of healing my codependency has been constantly reminding myself to never fall for the pity party longer than needed and to believe in my unique power over my own life. To know and believe that I can make lemonade of any circumstance and that I am in charge of my happiness, well-being, and direction in life.
What others think of me is none of my business:
Codependents, care a LOT about what others think of them – they care because that is how they feel validated, shamed or loved – through others and what they think or do not think about them. Somewhere in the haze of my late teens and fog of myspace quotes – I read the words “What others think of you is none of your business” and it was just phenomenal! It just stuck! Like realizing that that wasn´t my responsibility or in my control and wanting to control that would mean me living a life that is less honest with who I really am. A life of proving rather than being. Deciding to practice letting go of managing others feelings and thoughts about me has brought unmeasurable goodness to my healing.
Continue learning and practicing what you learn:
Part of realizing how mental programming works, like for example the kind our childhood gives us – makes you understand that life is all about mental programming and that you will only get out of it what you consciously or even unconsciously program yourself to believe. So, because of that, and knowing I am a recovering codependent, I must constantly be learning and practicing healthy ways to have relationships, with myself, my life and others. I am forever learning and unlearning and growing, trusting only my intuition and the results of the things I learn to trust along the way.
Also, life constantly triggers old habits that might still be lying dormant in your mental programming and every now and then you simply have to clean house, again and again, and again. Yet each time you do, you feel and grow closer to your healthiest and happiest self and if that doesn´t make it worth it, I honestly don´t know what might.
Well, friends, that sums up my little blog series on codependency (read the last two if you haven´t already). It doesn´t sum up my entire recovery and I also fear I might not have included all the ways I grew up codependent or the ways it affected my life growing up, but I feel I got to mention the most important aspects of both the cause and my approaches to a healthier me.
May what I have shared with you be of benefit to your life in some way. And may life, as always, find you blooming and thriving, wherever you are planted.
Love and Light