Break the Cycle of Codependency in Family
By Yasmin Kerkez
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special, too.” – Ernest Hemingway
Codependency is a behavioral pattern, and it can develop as a result of having to cope with trauma or from dealing with childhood and life experiences. So to reverse these behavioral patterns, it is necessary to be aware of where they come from. If our codependency patterns developed from childhood or past struggles, it might be needed to recognize these events so that you can acknowledge you no longer need these behavioral patterns in your life — and you can now let them go. Letting these past events go will further help you release any of these codependent behaviors you’re continuing to use in your current family struggles.
A good exercise to do is to think back on your past to identify if there are any roots or issues which led to codependent behavior. The following is a list of prompts to help uncover some common family situations, or life experiences, that can lead to codependent behavior:
- Were you rejected from a young age by parents, siblings, or nurturers and forced to find love elsewhere?
- Were you the child of an alcoholic, addict, or abuser of any kind?
- Did you grow up in an environment that taught you to care more for others than yourself?
- Did you grow up needing to be caregiver for someone who has (or had) a mental health disorder; in particular, someone with depression, personality disorder, narcissistic character, or serious anxiety?
- Did you play the part of the family clown/people pleaser to always keep the family happy?
- Did you develop helplessness and the belief that no one cares for you?
- Did you experience a life set back or experience that destroyed your confidence in yourself?
It is extremely helpful to spend the time to think back on your past and recognize when, and if, any of these events happened to you — because they will play a big role in your current behavioral patterns and how you interact and handle your current family struggles. If you did experience any of these situations or
environments, then you need to realize that you no longer need to play those roles. The behavioral patterns you developed in your past are no longer needed now — and you can let them go.
When thinking back on your past, it is needed to be honest with yourself and to really stop and think if there are any ways in which you are giving too much of yourself as a result of behavioral patterns you developed. Again: this is a very needed area of focus in the area of family, because we can overlook codependency if we believe it’s our duty as a family member. Often people can be independent and strong in every other area of life, yet within the family, they can fail to focus on their own needs or health. This is because as a parent you feel you must look after your child at all costs. As a child you can also feel that your parents are your responsibility, or that their opinions and thoughts have authority. As a sibling it’s possible to also feel that blood is thicker than water and it’s your duty to care for them, or be accountable for their feelings and upsets.
Family has great power over us! In family, we can give all of ourselves, or our worth can rely heavily on the acceptance of family members. So it’s important to recognize if there are any areas where you are giving too much of your power away, so that you can reclaim it and heal yourself.
Take the time to think back over your past and identify any coping behavioral patterns you may have developed. Identifying these patterns is the first step to breaking free and creating more freedom in your family relationships. It is possible to break free from codependency in family. This is not a selfish act: This is a necessary act of wellbeing that will strengthen you and your family dynamics.
If you need help learning the steps to take to break free from existing in a codependent relationship — and how to reclaim your power and continue on your healing journey — please know that help exists. Codependency is very common in family, and if you experience this, you are certainly not alone. Getting help with codependency issues can help you reclaim your life. If you feel that this article on codependency in family spoke to you, and you need help in this area, then please consider joining our Healing Harbor Membership which offers weekly help, support and lessons with how to navigate relationships issues and conflict in family. You can break free from codependency in family and reclaim your life!
Please join our Healing Harbor Membership group to find peer support, more great articles like this one, video interviews with dozens of experts in the fields of codependency and issues of family struggle, meditations, courses, and so much more! https://familysupportresources.com/membership/