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Love & Relationships

How to Overcome Codependency

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Codependency, at its essence, is about a loss of self. The sufferer focuses on meeting the needs of others while neglecting their own. 

Codependency can even become turning away from God as we focus solely upon the well-being and needs of others. 

Many of us learn maladaptive coping mechanisms, like codependency, as we try to find our connection in the world and within our families and relationships. This can even happen within well-intentioned Christian homes. 

Within the framework of our marriages and relationships with family members, God intends us to honor our own needs, as well as the needs of others. When we become addicted to our relationships and neglect our own self-worth, our spiritual life may also suffer. 

This is why it's important to take some time to reflect upon whether our relationships are making us feel personally responsible for the happiness of others. 

Recovery from codependency means we'll have a life less likely to be spent in crippling anxiety or depression as we focus upon our own spiritual growth rather than obsessing about caretaking and pleasing others.

Let’s consider the traits, underlying causes, and potential solutions to codependency available, including therapy, prayer, and meditation.

What are the signs of codependency?

If you are feeling unhappy with your family relationships or your marriage, you may wonder whether you've become too reliant upon these relationships for your personal happiness. 

All relationships, even a healthy relationship, have some degree of codependent behavior, and this is normal and expected. 

But there are instances where codependency becomes harmful in a relationship with a loved one. If you have ongoing feelings of low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, these are all grounds for concern. 

You also should consider whether you ever think about your own feelings or are instead consumed with being a people pleaser, causing you to set poor boundaries.

Codependency can create significant familial dysfunction, which can be repeated across generations. This can be difficult to remedy. 

Severe examples of codependency in families and marriages may become worsened as sufferers try to medicate their pain and unhappiness with drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other maladaptive behaviors. 

While biological and other factors contribute to codependency, it’s a learned behavior.

This means that codependent tendencies can be unlearned, and prayer and meditation can help. 

Woman reading scriptures in a cafe

The Bible tells us to love our enemies, and sometimes the ones we love may not be treating us the way that God intended. This can cause us to have an unhealthy relationship not only with the other person, but also with God.

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Mental and physical health effects of codependency

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The main risk factors for codependency are growing up in a dysfunctional family and then repeating learned family behaviors or marrying a person who isn't emotionally available. 

A dysfunctional family may mean there's constant chaos, and children grow up in an unpredictable environment where they feel unsupported or even judged. This can result in the children having childhood trauma and becoming codependent in their adult relationships. 

This can even occur if they follow a spiritual life.

And yet, there's hope that is found within the scriptures. 

Galatians 5:1 counsels us to:

Enjoy our freedom. So remain strong in the faith. Don’t let the chains of slavery hold you again.” 

Codependency is a form of slavery to others, and it isn't what God intends for us.

How to stop being codependent and heal relationships

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God doesn't want us to live unhappy lives where we only exist to serve others while neglecting our own spiritual needs. 

A true spiritual life is one where we reserve a place in our hearts for God. A spiritual person wanting to overcome unhealthy learned coping behaviors must start by identifying their behaviors and patterns before taking steps to change.

Change only comes from within, and it starts with setting healthy boundaries with your family and friends and within the sanctity of your marriage. 

We should turn our hearts to Christ and trust Him to heal us and our relationships.

1 Peter 5:7 tells us:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

 Women from behind sitting in hammock with a Bible in her hand.

Sometimes a 12-step-program can help.There are many excellent programs specifically addressing codependency that include a strong spiritual recovery framework.

People who have become accustomed to codependent relationships often have high levels of anxiety and depression.

But the teachings of Jesus and the scriptures can help us to learn how to heal our relationships with others and overcome these trials damaging our mental health.  

In Philippians 4:6-7, the Bible tells us:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Having faith in God and asking Him for help can ease your fears and anxiety.

You must start by realizing that God doesn't want you to be unhappy, as all of us were created in His image. Recovery from codependency begins with learning about spiritual discernment

This is a process where God can guide you to make the best decisions and to distinguish good from evil and truth from lies. It may even help us decide to leave a relationship that is toxic or harmful for us.

Healing relationships and ourselves starts with God

Recovery from codependency starts with identifying the damaging behaviors that have dominated our lives and taking steps to overcome them. 

Then, it's about learning to let go of these behaviors and set boundaries.

Codependency arises from a dysfunctional childhood where there was neglect, chaos, unpredictability, and possibly family members with alcohol or drug addiction. Codependent people are themselves more prone to substance abuse and eating disorders. 

Many sufferers will have chaotic lives, swinging from self-care to self-deprivation, as they continue to meet others’ needs first. 

Effective treatment for codependency can include different types of cognitive-behavioral therapy, including 12-step programs. It also includes regular prayer and meditation, such as learning to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

The key to recovery from codependency is to find ways to rediscover your lost self and begin practicing self-love. The journey to recover from codependency can also bring you closer to God. 

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