Codependency doesn’t benefit anyone so time to stop

Sometimes we can recover from bad behavior, but a life situation or new person can drag us back into old, unhealthy habits. We’ve worked so hard to recover from codependency so let’s find out the best ways to prevent a relapse into that old behavior!

Avoid the codependency relapse!

Especially in these challenging times, it’s important not to let the toxic into our relationships!

Where there are enmeshed relationships, especially in families experiencing substance or behavior use disorders, there is going to be codependency relapse. Melody Beattie bestselling author of  Beyond Codependency, refers to the phenomenon as “recycling.” which is a way of examining a relapse into codependent behaviors. Carol Anderson explains Melody Beattie’s 16 quotes for preventing relapse.

MB   If it feels crazy, it probably is.

When we are in an unhealthy relationship, the chaos and craziness become normal, so when we begin to get healthy, we wonder if this is the norm. When we don’t doubt our new reality of healthiness, we recognize the craziness may still be stemming from others’ behaviors. We learn to trust our own feelings. When the crazy comes from someone else, we don’t have to play the game.

MB If we’re protecting ourselves, something may be threatening us.

This may be an internal or external threat. An internal threat is a feeling that we are in danger. Red flags in the behavior of others help us determine an internal threat. An external threat is not just a feeling. There’s someone or something that may actually threaten our safety or our recovery. It could be the family system itself.

MB When one method of problem solving fails, try another.

Being able to plan and pivot to new problem solving tactic keeps us from being stuck and helpless. This tip also teaches the necessity of having a variety of coping skills, because a few skills won’t work on every issue. The more tools in our tool boxes, the more likely we’ll respond in a healthy manner.

MB  Self-will doesn’t work any better during recovery than it did before. Surrendering does work.

What is self will? It is believing that we have control over, and can fix, what is wrong with other people and difficult situations. We need to let go of trying to control through self will because it is ineffective. Letting go of the issue and accepting what is and also, working to change dysfunction, works.

MB Feelings of guilt, pity, and obligation are to the codependent as the first drink is to the alcoholic. Watch out for what happens next.

We feel badly about our loved ones whose lives are not going the way we think they should. We worry that setting boundaries and no longer fixing everything will hurt their feelings or make their lives worse. Our concern presents a relapse risk. Recovery is understanding our own triggers in order to keep from relapsing into old behaviors.

MB Feeling sad and frustrated because we can’t control someone or something is not the same as controlling.

Feelings exist and are not good or bad, and feelings of frustration and sadness are normal. However, if we switch the feelings into trying to control someone (behavior), then we are in trouble.

MB Trying to recoup our losses generally doesn’t work.

Losses are merely losses; we can grieve them, and then go on. Focusing on our losses and the losses of our loved ones keeps us trapped in the past.

MB We cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of the other person’s feelings.

This is so important because we’re codependent and we want (and sometimes need) to take care of others, even if it’s to our detriment. But we need to allow other’s their own feelings and let them take responsibility for their feelings when we set healthy boundaries – boundaries that often frustrate and anger a loved one caught up in substance use.

 MB Today isn’t yesterday.

We focus on one day at a time – today. We let go of yesterday and stay mindful in today and don’t worry about the future.

MB We don’t have to do more today than we can reasonably do.

We each have the same 24 hours – no more and no less – and we utilize these hours to the best of our abilities.

MB When depressed, look to see if anger, shame, or guilt is present.

While depression is a feeling of its own right, sometimes depression is caused by other feelings that we struggle to express. We’re angry and can’t tell anyone. We’re ashamed or guilty. When we accept and cope with these feelings, depression may lift.

If we’re not certain, we can wait.

Similar to the substance user in our life, we want what we want when we want it and may feel frustrated when things don’t go our way. But taking time to think things through is always better than reacting with a reflex. Waiting gives us the time to think, feel, and behave in healthier ways.

MB It’s hard to feel compassion for someone while that person is using or victimizing us.

This means we need to set healthy boundaries, allow our feelings to exist, and take the stance of behavior and compassion that come from our higher self. In other words, we take the high road.

MB If we listen to ourselves, we’ll probably hear ourselves say what the problem is. The next step is acceptance.

The path to acceptance may be difficult, but if we listen to our inner self, we recognize the struggle. From this struggle, we learn to accept the good and the bad as parts of everyday life.

MB We never outgrow our need for nurturing and self-care.

Recovery is about loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves. If we can’t nurture ourselves, then it will be difficult to nurture others.

MB If everything looks black, we’ve probably got our eyes shut.

This is about our denial and inability to focus on hope, acceptance, and healing. To truly heal, we need to be able to talk, feel, trust, and accept.

Remember that healing is a process – allow it to happen.

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Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders. Her other specialties include grief and trauma, women’s issues, chronic pain management, holistic healing, GLBTQ concerns, and spirituality and transpersonal psychology. Dr. Anderson has been educated and trained in the fields of education, social work, and spirituality, and she holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (non-denominational/interfaith) specializing in spirituality.

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