By Dr. Josh Wagner
If you’ve found yourself in a cycle of codependent relationships, rest assured that there is a way out. Learning how to overcome codependency will take some deep inner work, but with the help of mindfulness meditation, this process can become much easier.
Mindfulness, and mindful meditation, can help you recover from anything and everything in life. Whether that’s combating self-sabotaging behaviors, healing shame, and reaching emotional sobriety, or battling addictive tendencies and releasing trauma, I offer mindfulness meditation techniques that can help. Many of these practices can be applied to codependency recovery too.
But first, what is mindfulness?
The definition of mindfulness is: “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
But, what is codependency anyway?
Codependency is most often rooted in childhood; becoming a learned behavior that affects relationships. A codependent relationship typically forms with a romantic partner, although it can happen with a friend or family member.
The definition of codependency is: “A psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) broadly: dependence on the needs of or control by another.”
When it comes to romantic relationships, codependent partners tend to put their needs aside in order to support, help, or ‘fix’ the person they’re in a relationship with. The codependent partner typically believes that they will only receive love from their partner if they sacrifice themselves in this way. Also, they often gain a sense of identity, self-confidence, and value from the ways in which they help their partner.
In many cases, a codependent partner may stay with someone who is abusive or has a substance abuse problem or addiction. This way, they feel needed and can work to gain their partner’s love. A codependent person draws so much of their own self-worth from their partner that they develop a sort of relationship or love addiction that keeps them in a codependency cycle. Have you been asking yourself, “Am I codependent?” Here are a few signs:
A few signs of codependency include:
- Valuing others’ approval more than your own approval.
- Having difficulty making decisions for yourself.
- Fears of abandonment.
- Poor self-esteem.
- Having a severe dependence on relationships, often to your own detriment.
- Having an inflated sense of responsibility for what other people do.
- People-pleasing behaviors.
- Care-taking behaviors.
Learning how to stop being codependent is crucial for finding the love and intimacy in a relationship that you truly deserve. With these meditation techniques, you can learn how to practice mindfulness in a way that can help you heal and overcome your codependent behavior. Here are a few meditations that can help.
Feel the pause (To connect with your thoughts)
Codependent people tend to lose touch with their own wants and needs. One of the major benefits of meditation is that it forces you to quiet your mind and be alone with your thoughts.
For this meditation, you can develop your concentration by paying attention to natural pauses in your breathing. Start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a moment to notice the physical sensations, sounds, smells, thoughts, and feelings that come up. Be aware of what’s happening in the moment but don’t try to do anything about it. Breathe as you normally would.
Learning how to be mindful of your own thoughts and feelings gives you the chance to explore what you really want. This takes the focus off of what your partner needs, and puts it back onto your own.
Letting go of thoughts (To stop worrying about others’ approval)
If you struggle with codependency, it’s likely you deal with intrusive and negative thoughts. What will others think? Does my partner love me? Am I doing enough to earn their love? Am I letting others down? One of the benefits of mindfulness is the ability to let these thoughts come and go.
For this meditation, begin by lying or sitting down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, settle in and start to breathe normally. Bring your attention to your breath and notice how it moves into your nose and out of your body. Notice how it feels as it leaves your body. Softly say “breathe” to yourself at the beginning of every inhalation and exhalation. If your mind wanders, recognize those intrusive thoughts as “not breathe.” Without judgment, let the thought go and bring your attention to your breathing. Continue this until you finish your meditation. Can you let your thoughts fly away like birds?
By learning to let intrusive thoughts come and go, and accept them for what they are, you can learn how to manage the negative thoughts that keep you stuck in your codependent behaviors.
Relearning your loveliness (To learn self-love)
A lack of self-confidence and self-love is one of the biggest reasons people cling to their relationships. You may be dependent on the love and approval of your partner because you are not able to give that love and approval to yourself. Practicing mindfulness can help you get in touch with yourself and harbor the self-love you deserve.
For this meditation, get into a comfortable position either sitting or lying down. You can close your eyes or focus on a point in the distance. When ready, quietly chant or think these phrases:
“May I be free from fear.”
“May I be free from suffering.”
“May I be happy.”
“May I be filled with loving kindness.”
Choose the phrase or phrases that mean the most to you and repeat them over and over for two to three minutes. Do this even if you don’t believe them. Even if you don’t think you are worthy. Plant these seeds of self-love so they can grow and blossom within you over time.
By learning to love yourself, you will no longer need the approval of others. You will no longer need to be needed by your romantic partners, so you can offer yourself the love you crave.
Change your life (To find self-compassion)
Having compassion for yourself is vital if you want to break free from codependency symptoms. By extending compassion to yourself, you can convince yourself that you are worthy of love and deserve to have your needs met.
For this meditation, try journaling to explore this concept of self-compassion. To start, find a quiet place where you can be alone for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a computer or a pen and paper and fill an entire page with your thoughts on self-compassion. Consider these ideas to get started: What negative self-talk would you need to give up in order to be more self-compassionate? What does self-compassion mean to you? How can moments of self-compassion improve your life? How can you practice self-compassion today?
By offering yourself some self-compassion, you are recognizing that you are worthy of love and acceptance. You can give this to yourself without needing the approval of others to feel this way.
If you’re finally ready to break the cycle of codependent relationships by getting to the root cause of the problem, mindful meditations can help. These mindfulness techniques can help you get in touch with your thoughts, needs, and emotions.