The aftermath of a breakup can leave you feeling confused, angry, lonely, and even depressed.
In addition to dealing with the emotional pain, leaving a codependent relationship means you also face the challenge of rebuilding your self-esteem and identity, along with finding new ways to cope with your feelings.
But you can learn how to overcome codependency after a breakup. Here’s how…
1) Get support from others
Codependency may be an unhealthy attachment, but the fact remains we all need support in life. Learning to move on from codependency doesn’t mean you should try to deal with difficulties on your own.
When you’re going through a rough time in life, it’s natural to want to turn to people who care about you for comfort and guidance.
The difficulty of leaving a codependent relationship is that the one person who you would have automatically turned to and relied upon is no longer there.
But it’s important to remember that family, friends, and community (even online forums) can also provide us with this feeling of connection and understanding.
Many people in codependent relationships find themselves neglecting other relationships in their life as their partner becomes their world. But it’s never too late to start rebuilding those connections elsewhere or to begin creating new ones.
After leaving a codependent relationship it’s important to actively recreate your own identity and interests again — and other relationships are a part of that.
This isn’t about trying to transfer codependency onto someone else.It’s about recognizing that human beings are social creatures.
We don’t have to go it alone when we are going through a hard time. So don’t suffer in silence, reach out.
2) Understand the driving force behind codependency
Nobody is born codependent. It is a pattern of behavior you learned. And if you learned it, that means you can unlearn it.
Codependency is usually caused by unresolved issues from childhood or adolescence. For example, if you grew up in a home where you were made to feel that your own needs were less important.
Perhaps your parents were either overprotective or under protective, creating an unhealthy balance in relationship dynamics.
By digging deeper into what has caused codependent patterns to emerge in you, it helps you to better understand yourself. This is going to help you to identify when codependent behavior is coming up and put a stop to it.
But more than that, understanding how codependency operates and what has triggered it means you no longer have to identify it as being you. Instead, it is a behavior that can be altered once you are conscious of it.
3) Build your own self-esteem and self-worth
As highlighted by Medical News Today:
“The codependent person feels worthless unless they are needed by — and making drastic sacrifices for — the enabler. The enabler gets satisfaction from getting their every need met by the other person.
“The codependent is only happy when making extreme sacrifices for their partner. They feel they must be needed by this other person to have any purpose.”
One of the underlying causes of codependency can be low self-esteem.
If you question your own self-worth, then you will likely continue to see others as superior to you. You might even think that your feelings are wrong or not as valid.
So when you leave a codependent relationship you may feel like you’re losing something vital to your sense of worth.
It’s important to take steps to build your own self-esteem, which starts by learning to think more positively about yourself.
- Think about all the things you’ve accomplished in your life so far.
- Think about all the good qualities you possess.
- Think about all of the skills, talents, and abilities you have.
- Think about all the people who love you and care about you.
When you struggle to see yourself in a positive light it can help to view yourself as if you were looking through the eyes of your best friend.
4) Explore your relationship with yourself (and with love)
Why does love so often start out great, only to become a nightmare?
And what’s the solution to overcome codependency after a breakup?
The answer is contained in the relationship you have with yourself.
I learned about this from the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me to see through the lies we tell ourselves about love and become truly empowered.
As Rudá explains in this mind blowing free video, love is not what many of us think it is. In fact, many of us are actually self-sabotaging our love lives without realizing it!
We need to face the facts about codependency in relationships.
Far too often we chase an idealized image of someone and build up expectations that are guaranteed to be let down.
Far too often we fall into codependent roles of savior and victim to try to “fix” our partner, only to end up in a miserable, bitter routine.
Far too often, we are on shaky ground with our own selves and this carries over into toxic relationships that become hell on earth.
Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective.
While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to find love for the first time – and finally offered an actual, practical solution to avoiding codependency in relationships.
If you’re done with frustrating relationships and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.
5) Cut contact with your ex
Missing your ex after you broke up is totally normal. But when codependency is involved there can be an extra longing.
Whilst wanting to see or speak to your ex in order to seek a rest bite from the grief is normal, in the long run it’s a bad idea.
Being in close contact with your ex will only keep the unhealthy attachment alive and make you feel worse. This is not the time to focus on your ex, but rather on yourself.
That’s why it’s important to cut off all contact with your ex, no matter how challenging it feels. You’ll get back on track much faster.
Many experts agree that the no contact rule is the best way of giving yourself the time and space to grieve.
Severing ties with your ex can seem brutal, but it allows you to bring your full attention back to yourself.
6) Rebuild your own sense of identity
What happens when you stop thinking about your ex? You get busy living your life. And that’s exactly what you should do.
It’s easy to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, but doing nothing will just prolong your pain. The most constructive thing to do is get busy exploring ways to be happy again.
People who are overcoming codependency need to make extra efforts toward creating their own identity. That can involve finding a hobby or activity you enjoy doing that has nothing to do with your ex.
Think about all the things you like. Think about your hobbies and interests. Think about all kinds of activities you’d like to try out.
What little things do you find pleasure in away from your relationship? It might be as simple as a good book or movie. It could be something you want to learn or a sport you’d like to play.
Part of breaking the habit of codependency often involves rediscovering your own preferences again and taking self-responsibility for making yourself happy.
So play around and explore — whether it’s different types of music that you like, places you like to visit, and even food you like to eat. Take this time to get to know yourself.
7) Take off the rose-tinted glasses about your ex and your relationship
When you’re ready to move forward, you have to put aside any romantic notions about your ex and your former relationship.
Your ex was not perfect. Your ex wasn’t always kind or loving. But whenever we lose something, it’s easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses.
Grief can make us idealize the past. But now more than ever is the best time to remember the bad in the relationship.
It’s not that you should dwell on negative thoughts or indulge in blame or bitterness. But rather than torture yourself thinking about what you feel you have lost, remind yourself of the unhealthy or even toxic elements about your relationship.
Recognize that a fantasy relationship never existed. Getting lost in illusion will prevent you from moving forward.
8) Try to stick to routines
Breakups can make life suddenly seem chaotic. That’s why sticking to routines can help you to find some comfort through structure.
If you’ve been going through a rough patch, it’s never the best time to make big changes to your schedule.
Try to set up daily routines that help you stay focused and organized. Roughly getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, having a morning ritual, exercising daily.
It’s all about trying to establish some sort of order to your days.As pointed out in Psychology Today:
“Studies show that a regular routine can ease mental stress and help us feel more in control. Rather than worrying too much about what might happen in the future, we have things we need to focus on today. That helps manage our fear and our moods.”
9) Give it time
Unfortunately, you can’t put a time limit on healing.
Don’t pile on extra pressure with unrealistic expectations of the healing process. It takes as long as it takes and healing is never linear.
That means some days you will feel stronger but on others, you will probably feel like you’ve taken a step backward.
Give yourself permission to take breaks when you need them. Don’t beat yourself up for taking time to heal and grieve.
Learning to be patient can be one of the kindest things you can do for yourself right now.
Because sometimes, it may feel like nothing is happening. You don’t see any change. You still feel sad, angry, and lonely. But behind the scenes that doesn’t mean that healing isn’t ongoing.
10) Don’t be tempted to turn to unhealthy distractions
Whilst it can feel like anything to numb the pain would be better than nothing right now, certain things are going to make it worse in the long run.
The last thing you need is to jump straight into another romantic relationship to try and transfer your codependency onto someone else.
Without dealing with the underlying emotions and learning to depend on yourself, you’re only going to get sucked into the same vicious cycle again.
Neither is it a good idea to try to find solace from pain in alcohol or other substances, impulsive spending, over (or under) eating or sleeping too much.
11) Practice self-care
Self-care is an important part of recovery from codependency. You need to learn how to care for yourself and be able to make yourself feel good.
This includes making sure you eat well, exercise regularly, sleep enough, spend quality time with friends and family, and practice mindfulness.
This is also a great opportunity to start practicing gratitude.
Recognizing the positive aspects of your life and being grateful for those things can really help you to move past the negative feelings and thoughts that come from feeling dependent on someone else.
Self-care also helps us to take responsibility for our own happiness. It can help you to actively identify your own needs and recognize they are important.
That way when you go on to form other relationships you have stronger foundations of looking after yourself and knowing why it’s so important.
Journaling is a powerful tool to use during this difficult time.
It allows you to express all the emotions you’re experiencing without having to share them with anyone else.
When you journal, you can explore your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without the fear of judgment.
Not only has journaling been proven to boost your mood and enhance your sense of well-being, it’s also a useful method of self-exploration.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center journaling works to improve your mental health by:
- Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them
- Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
Meditation is one of the most effective methods of stress reduction. It can help you to calm down, reduce anxiety, and increase focus.
There are many different types of meditation, but the two main ones I would recommend for handling codependency withdrawal symptoms are focused breathing and loving-kindness meditation.
Focused breathing meditations teach you to slow down and pay attention to your breath as you breathe in and out. It helps you to stay present, relax, improve your self-control and increase your self-awareness.
Loving-kindness meditation encourages you to focus loving energy toward yourself (and others). More compassion-based interventions like this can be just what you need to help you build your own self-love after codependency.
Research lists some of the benefits of loving-kindness meditation as being particularly useful for tackling social anxiety, relationship conflict, and anger.
Whilst other studies have found it can help emotional processing and empathy to boost a sense of positivity and reduce negativity.
14) Don’t let your thoughts run away with you
We can all be prone to negative thinking at any time in life. But particularly when you are healing from the trauma of a codependent breakup, you may be more prone to them.
If you find yourself dwelling on something or someone who was part of your codependency, try not to allow these thoughts to consume you.
Instead, begin by watching negative thoughts when they arise. When you notice them, make a choice not to follow that train of thought down into the rabbit hole of negative thinking.
It’s almost impossible to stop negative thoughts from popping into your head. But being mindful of when they appear means you’re less likely to get carried away by them.
Personally, I have found it useful to wear a hair tie or rubber band around the wrist after breakups.
When I notice my thoughts have drifted towards painful memories or emotions I gently twang the band as a physical signal to myself to stay present and stop the thoughts.
15) Get professional help
Sometimes we don’t realize how much our codependency has affected us until we seek help.
If you feel like you’ve been struggling with codependency for a long time, then it might be worth getting some professional support.
I know there are lots of self-help books and resources available online, but if you want to work through this process with a trained therapist, you’ll probably find that having a face-to-face conversation will be helpful.
You may have past trauma or abuse to deal with or some deeply rooted false beliefs about yourself. To unpack all that in a professionally supported environment can be really powerful.
Experts are trained to help you find ways to work through and express feelings that may have been lingering for years.