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Am I Codependent? And is there a path to a happier life?

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Do you find yourself constantly giving to those around you and not getting the same effort or energy in return? Are you spending most of your time and energy worrying about the problems of those you love? Are you in a pattern of rescuing, caretaking, and then feeling used and disappointed, only for the cycle to start again? And finally, are you ready to start making changes that will break this cycle, prioritize your needs and, in turn, lead you to a more joyful life? If these questions ring true for you then Melody Beattie’s “Codependent No More” is the perfect read to kick off 2023.   


Melody’s book starts by sharing people’s experiences of being codependent. Not only does she share an array of experiences of people from all walks of life, but she also discusses how being codependent negatively impacts their lives. Hearing the stories of other people and the similarities I found in my own life as a person that struggles with codependent tendencies was eye-opening for me. I found great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my experiences of struggle in this area, and how common it is for people in the helping profession to fall into these patterns of rescuing and caretaking. Thankfully, however, Codependent No More also left me feeling hopeful about making changes and demonstrated that taking my life back is possible.   


Melody defines a codependent as being: “One who has let another person’s behaviour affect them and who is obsessed with controlling that other person’s behaviour”. Although quite often codependents are created through relationships in which the other person suffers from some sort of substance abuse, that isn’t always necessarily the case. Melody shares it’s possible that all of us are a little codependent to some degree.   

The latter half of the book provides concrete strategies for us to employ in order to step away from codependency and, learn to prioritize ourselves, our needs, and begin living a more joyful and fulfilled life. Initially, as I began reading this section, the strategies sounded difficult and basically the opposite of how I move through life, putting others’ needs before mine. However, the book is about Melody’s real-life personal experience of detaching herself from her codependent tendency. Although many of the suggestions seem so counterintuitive to a codependent’s nature, she is an amazing example of the life that is possible once we make these changes. She demonstrates the genuine sense of peace we can experience once we accept that we are not in control of other people’s lives.   


Melody takes us through various strategies to regain control of our lives in these sometimes chaotic relationships, beginning with learning to detach. She talks about detaching from a person in the act of love but also walks us through the benefits of detaching in the act of anger when doing so in love is not possible. We learn about not needing to react to every single thing, how to ground ourselves before deciding to react, and how to determine our own needs and make the best decisions for ourselves in those moments. Melody teaches us about giving up the need for control and how thinking we ever had any is an illusion in the first place. She teaches us about the triangle many codependents find themselves in rescuing, persecuting, and being left feeling victimized. We learn the importance of engaging in the work to become less dependent, a term she calls “undependent”. Melody then teaches us about living for ourselves, how to love ourselves, and how moving through the stages of grief allows us to get to a place of true acceptance. We learn about setting intentions, communicating our needs in an anti-codependent way, and working a twelve-step program to our advantage in becoming undependent. Finally, she finishes the book with other tips, tricks, and self-care practices to help us along this journey.   


The three telltale signs that you, like all of us, struggle with codependency:

      1. You think about and feel responsible for other people and their feelings.

      2. You feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem.

      3. You feel compelled – almost forced to help another person solve their problem.  Our relationship with codependence if part of the human experience, but if these are feelings you struggle with in your daily life, Melody Beatties “Codependent No More” is here to support you to break the cycle and start living your life for you!” 


I can’t promise that this work will be easy.. actually, I can pretty much promise that it won’t be. But I can say that if you struggle with codependency, reading Codependent No More and putting these strategies into practice will be worth it. This book and its methods for achieving undependence will allow you to live the happy and fulfilled life you deserve.. remember, you only get one.

   

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