How To Start Building Emotional Availability While Healing Codependency

By Marshall Burtcher.

Emotional availability and receiving are crucial skills in building a warm, secure relationship with others and ourselves.  This allows us to be able to ask for things, receive them openly and freely while feeling safe that what we’re given is not going to be weaponized later down the road.  

So, how does one build availability when they’re working on healing their codependency?

The first thing to know is that we’re only available to the extent we feel safe to be seen, heard, and valued by the other persons involved.  This level of safety depends on how we manage our traumas and care for the pain we carry in tandem with the pattern of behaviors the other person exhibits.  This allows us to discern between trauma interfering or a legitimate concern in the relationship.

 Understanding that availability is governed by our sense of safety within ourselves and the other person points us to the first step in opening to more emotional availability: Building safety.

What do we need to build safety in?

First, we need to build safety around having boundaries, having needs, having wants, and having limits.  Feeling safe with these aspects of our existence helps us communicate them more clearly and directly and allows us to approach sharing them with more confidence and curiosity rather than fear, shame, or guardedness. 

This kind of safety is created through practices that help alleviate the pain, shame, and guilt we feel around boundaries, needs, wants, and limits.  This kind of healing involves coming to relate with our boundaries, needs, wants, and limits with warmth, respect, and importance.  We see them as real, important, and legitimate.  They *deserve* to be known, fulfilled, and shared.

When we approach ourselves with this kind of care and love, our sense of safety becomes more internalized, as we’re not seeking validation externally for them.  We’re operating from an internal sense of validity that gives life to assertive relating.

Further, I’ve found that people who are healthy, good fits for our lives will want to know these things, as they will find joy and pleasure in contributing to them.  They find fulfillment in just having the privilege to know them and add nourishment to them.  

This happens because that person sees their connection with you as a gift, a privilege, and they hope you see their needs, wants, limits, and boundaries in the same light.

Secondly, we need to build trust with others and others with us.  This helps bring into the equation the relational safety we all need if we’re going to venture in building a secure bond or attachment with another.

This kind of trust is built gradually through *experience*. I specifically look for consistent patterns in how the person takes accountability, follows through on their word (aka integrity), and shows respect for my boundaries, and empathizes.  

I also watch how I am showing up in these four principles of accountability, integrity, respect of boundaries, and empathy, as this helps me show up far outside my codependent behaviors of people-pleasing, perfectionism, and avoidance of conflict.

Consistent patterns in these four principles from myself and the other naturally builds that trust, and helps us relinquish control as a means to safety.  I have a saying I teach in my courses:  When trust is low, control goes high.  When trust is high, control goes low.

Being available to receive requires that we have a nurtured trust that is growing between you and the others involved, or we will laps into anxious and/or avoidant behaviors to try to create safety.  It also requires that we are conscious of our own trauma, it’s signals, and are actively caring for that pain so that we’re able to see beyond it’s lens and connect with what is happening with the person we’re relating to.  

Building safety in these two ways helps you create more availability and presence as you build bonds with others in your relationships.  It is your first point of contact with secure attachment and self-care.

Go gently with this work.  It is huge work you are doing.  Consider praising and appreciating your efforts as you explore this, develop, and grow.  

Marshall Burtcher is a Codependency Transformation Expert. He specializes in helping codependents accelerate their freedom, peace, self-love, and belonging by healing the core rejection trauma that drives their codependency. Learn how to make this real in your life in his free workshop here:

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