How to Get Help for Codependent Behavior

Three Methods:Seeking HelpMaking Lifestyle ChangesIdentifying the Symptoms

Codependency is an emotional disorder where you put the needs of others before your own to the detriment of your own well-being. Oftentimes, you find yourself in a relationship with someone with an addition or suffer from addiction yourself. People who are codependent are usually in denial that they have a problem. However, through acceptance of your problem, therapy, and focusing on yourself, you can get help for your codependent behavior.

Method 1
Seeking Help

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    Accept that you need help. The first step in getting help for codependent behavior is admitting that you have a problem. People with codependency are often in denial and refuse to face the problem. You may blame others or situations for your behavior. You may not focus on your needs because you are so focused on other people’s needs.[1]
    • To get help, you need to look at yourself and be honest about what you see. Have your friends or family told you about your codependent behavior?
    • No help you get will be successful if you don’t admit your problem.
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    Undergo psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a proven treatment for codependency. Psychotherapy includes talk therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. You receive psychotherapy from a licensed therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional.[2]
    • In talk therapy, you will talk about your past, your feelings, and your thoughts. The therapist can help you start figuring out why you are codependent and how to start putting yourself first. Since codependency often stems from the past, you will work on uncovering things from your past that caused your codependency.[3]
    • You will learn how to build self-esteem and work on liking yourself and thinking that you matter.
    • You learn how to identify your own thoughts and needs that you may have ignored for years.
    • You can work on setting boundaries with other people. This helps you learn how to take responsibility for your life and stop putting others before yourself.
    • You may also work on learning how to support your loved ones instead of trying to control and fix them. You’ll learn healthy ways to help others.
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    Go to a treatment center. If you are suffering from codependency, you can go to a treatment center. These centers offer codependency recovery programs, where you work with medical professionals to face your codependent behavior and address any underlying reasons for the behavior.[4]
    • If you have an addiction, you can find a treatment center that treats your addiction and codependency together.[5] If you are suffering from depression and anxiety, you can find treatment centers that treat those conditions, too.[6]
    • Some codependency treatment centers focus on helping codependent people who have partners who suffer from substance abuse and addiction.[7]
    • Some treatment centers offer outpatient services, some offer week-long workshops, and other offer residential treatments that last up to 30 days.
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    Find a support group. One way that you can start getting help for your codependency is to join a support group. There are 12-step programs and group therapies that can help you address your codependency. Support groups help you meet other people who are dealing with the same issues you are.[8][9]
    • In group therapy, you can learn about other people’s struggles and successes. You can ask questions and share coping techniques.
    • In 12-step programs, you learn to admit your problems, examine your past, admit to mistakes, and connecting with others who are going through what you are.[10]
    • One example of a group support therapy is Co-Dependents Anonymous.
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    Face any addictions. Often, people who are codependent also have addictions. These addictions help them deal with their feelings and lack of boundaries. You may have an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or even food. To start getting help for your behavior, you need to address your addiction problems.
    • If you have a problem with addiction, you should see your doctor or visit an addiction treatment center.
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    Buy a self-help book. The first step of getting help may be to buy a self-help books. Resources about codependency can help you determine that you have a problem and figure out how codependency affects you. There may be some helpful steps on how to start making small changes every day to help get over your behavior.[11]
    • While a self-help book or website may provide helpful information, it is only a starting place. Getting professional help is more effective at treating your codependent behavior than trying to do it on your own.

Method 2
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Focus on yourself. To start working on your codependent behavior, you need to focus on yourself. Part of the problem with codependency is that you try to fix everyone else and put everyone else’s needs before your own. To recover from codependency, you must start thinking of yourself and working on making yourself better.[12]
    • Think about what is good for you, not everyone else. You probably will have to start consciously thinking about your choices. Instead of doing what is automatic, which is your codependent behavior, think about things before you react, speak, or take action. Think about what you need to do for you and your overall well-being.
    • Work on liking yourself. Tell yourself that you are worth it and that you matter. Your opinions matter. You deserve to be happy.
    • Respect yourself. You can’t move past codependent behavior if you don’t start to respect and like yourself and believe that you matter.[13]
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    Assert yourself. One of the most important things you should do when you start to recover from codependency is to learn how to be assertive. If you are codependent, you have ignored your wants and needs in favor of others. You may not even know what you want. Learning to speak up for what you want is a major step in the right direction.[14]
    • This may take a lot of courage and be difficult at first. Your therapist can help you figure out how to identify what you want and finally tell people your needs.
    • Remind yourself that you have the right to your opinions and ideas. Remember that you can stand up for what you want. That does not mean that people will not like you.
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    Relax. Relaxation is a helpful technique to deal with any depression and anxiety that accompanies your codependency. Learning to relax can also help reduce stress and build a closer relationship with yourself. You can find the right relaxation technique for yourself, like yoga, meditation, or reading a book.[15]

Method 3
Identifying the Symptoms

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    Acknowledge you have low self-esteem. One symptom of codependency is low self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem, you don’t think highly of yourself. You are negative about yourself, criticize yourself, and always focus on your flaws. You never feel good enough.[16]
    • You may compare yourself to others and their achievements.
    • You might feel like you’re unlovable. You may feel a sense of guilt or feel like you need to be perfect.
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    Determine if you need to please everyone. People who are codependent feel like they have to please others. They often feel like this will make people accept or like them. They often agree to things they don’t want to because they have trouble saying no. They will go out of their way to do something for someone else.[17]
    • A codependent person will feel bad or like a victim if they do not receive approval.
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    Look for a lack of boundaries. If you are codependent, you don’t have good boundaries between you and other people. This means you may have trouble separating yourself and other people. This includes feelings, problems, and material things. You may think other people’s problems are your fault.[18]
    • When someone says something, you have trouble realizing it’s just their opinion. You either get defensive or believe them. You take what they say to heart.
    • You may take everything someone says or does personally.[19]
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    Decide if you need to help others. People who are codependent often try to help others as a way to feel good about themselves. You feel like you have to solve other people’s problems and give everyone advice, even if no one asked for it. If you are codependent, you expect people to follow your advice and get upset if they don’t.[20]
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    Figure out if you have to be in control. Codependent people often need to be in control of situations or people. Having things be in a particular ordered way helps them feel better. If there is chaos or uncertainty, in people or events, codependents feel upset.[21]
    • Often, pleasing people and helping others is a way to gain control. This is a type of manipulation.
    • If you’re codependent, you may have been described as bossy by others.
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    Look for a lack of honesty. Codependent people are not always truthful with their feelings, thoughts, and wants. This stems from the need to please people and not upset them. Because of this, you may say one thing, but manipulate the person into doing what you want because you can’t just come out and say it.[22]
    • You may even start lying about your own behavior, feelings, thoughts, and wants.
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    Decide if you are dependent on others. You may feel that you need other people to be happy. You need others to like you and accept you to find self-worth. You may even obsessively think about people or relationships. Some codependent people need to always be in a relationship to feel good, and they often won’t end the relationship when it needs to be ended.[23]
    • You may get irrationally upset if you believe you’ve done something wrong or made a mistake with another person.

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Categories: Emotional Conditions