Understanding Codependency: Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery

Understanding Codependency: Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery

Introduction to Codependency

Codependency is a complex psychological condition that affects an individuals’ ability to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships. It often stems from dysfunctional family dynamics and can manifest in various ways. If left untreated, codependency can lead to mental, emotional and physical exhaustion, financial devastation, seething resentment and complete loss of independence. 

In this article, we will delve into the signs and symptoms of codependency, explore its root causes, and provide practical steps for breaking free from codependent relationship patterns. If you would like to know if you have codependency, take the Friel Codependency Quiz here.

Signs and Symptoms of Codependency

Let’s briefly discuss the most common signs and symptoms of codependency, so as to help you better understand codependency patterns.

  • Low self-esteem and excessive need for validation: Codependent individuals often have a poor sense of self-worth and seek external validation to feel worthy.
  • People-pleasing behavior: They have a strong desire to please others at the expense of their own needs and boundaries.
  • Difficulty setting boundaries: Codependent individuals struggle to establish and enforce healthy boundaries in their relationships.
  • Enabling behavior: They may enable others’ unhealthy behaviors, often out of a fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • Neglecting personal needs: Codependent individuals tend to prioritise others’ needs over their own, often neglecting self-care.
  • Intense fear of abandonment: They may experience an overwhelming fear of being left alone or rejected by their loved ones.

Understanding the Root Causes of Codependency

It’s important to understand where patterns of codependency originate from. Here are some common causes:

  1. Childhood experiences: Codependency can be rooted in childhood experiences, such as growing up in dysfunctional families or witnessing unhealthy relationship dynamics.
  2. Lack of emotional support: Individuals who did not receive adequate emotional support in their formative years may develop codependent tendencies as they seek validation and connection from others.
  3. Trauma and neglect: Traumatic experiences, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, can contribute to the development of codependent patterns.
  4. Learned behavior: Codependency can be learned from role models or caregivers who displayed codependent tendencies, leading individuals to replicate those behaviors in their own relationships.

Breaking Free from Codependency: Steps to Recovery

  1. Self-awareness: Recognise and acknowledge codependent patterns in your behaviour and relationships. Take the Codependency Quiz!
  2. Education and self-reflection: Learn about codependency, its effects, and how it may be impacting your life. Engage in self-reflection to understand underlying emotions and needs.
  3. Establish healthy boundaries: Identify and communicate your needs, wants, and limits in relationships. Practice saying “no” when necessary.
  4. Develop self-care practices: Prioritise self-care activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
  5. Seek support: Consider joining a codependency support group or seeking therapy to gain guidance and support from professionals and others on a similar journey.
  6. Explore healthy relationships: Surround yourself with individuals who support your well-being and encourage personal growth.
  7. Celebrate progress: Acknowledge and celebrate your milestones and progress as you navigate your journey towards recovery.

Establishing Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

  • Identify your values and needs: Understand what is important to you and the boundaries you need to maintain your well-being.
  • Communicate assertively: Clearly express your boundaries to others in a respectful and assertive manner.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and recognise that setting boundaries is a healthy and necessary part of maintaining healthy relationships.
  • Stay consistent: Enforce your boundaries consistently and avoid making exceptions that may undermine their effectiveness.
  • Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals for guidance and encouragement as you establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

Seeking Professional Help for Codependency

When you understand codependency you realise that you might need professional support to help identify, challenge and change the unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with codependent patterns.

  • Therapy: Consider individual therapy or counseling with a mental health professional who understands codependency.
  • Support groups: Join codependency support groups, such as Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), to connect with others who understand your experiences.
  • Workshops and seminars: Attend workshops or seminars that focus on codependency and provide tools for recovery and personal growth.
  • Online resources: Utilise online resources, such as articles, books, and podcasts, that offer guidance and insights into codependency recovery (A great read on the topic is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie).


Codependency can hinder personal growth and fulfillment, but with self-awareness, education, and support, it is possible to break free from its grip. By establishing healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking professional help, individuals can embark on a transformative journey towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Remember, prioritising your well-being is essential for breaking the cycle of codependency and embracing a life of self-love and authenticity.

If you have completed the Codependency Quiz and you would like to make an appointment to discuss your results, please reach out via the contact page on this website. 

Michelle xx


Image source: Pixabay @ Image by engin_akyurt

Perfectionism Exposed

Perfectionism Exposed

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterised by an unrelenting pursuit of perfection. Perfectionists feel an overwhelming internal pressure to set and meet unrealistically high standards. People with perfectionistic tendencies tend to be very self-critical. They are constantly striving for perfection in various aspects of their lives, including work, relationships, and personal achievements. They often have a deep fear of failure, which fuels their drive to succeed. In this article, we will explore what perfectionism entails and its main impacts. We’ll also look at why seeking support from an experienced psychologist is crucial for learning to manage perfectionism.

What Causes Perfectionism?

The perfectionist mindset is a fascinating yet complex trait that many individuals develop in childhood. Perfectionist thinking can stem from various causes, including family or societal pressures to meet unrealistic standards, unrelenting criticism from caregivers, and the fear of judgment and rejection. Additionally, personal traits such as high conscientiousness and a desire for control can contribute to the development of perfectionistic tendencies.



Perfectionism is a survival strategy developed in childhood to cope with challenges faced in your upbringing. Challenges such as overly critical or abusive environments, personal trauma including abandonment, and family conflict or breakdown. The focus on perfection gives the child something to strive for; a way to prove their worth and value through setting exceptionally high standards and expecting flawless outcomes; a way to feel in control of the uncertainty that surrounds them; or a method to gain approval and love or avoid judgment and criticism.

Like all our childhood survival strategies, they make perfect sense in the context in which you developed them. But as a mature adult you start to experience the limitations and toxic nature of your adaptive survival mechanisms. Perfectionism is problematic because, of course, perfection cannot be realised, no-one and nothing is perfect. And because perfectionists link their self-worth to the attainment of perfection, they never feel worthy and constantly struggle with feelings that they are not good enough.


Contradictory Nature of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a contradiction. Striving for perfection can be both motivating and debilitating; the fear of failure can lead some to give up before they have even started, or to obsess so much with the details that they never get off first-base. At other times, the drive for perfection can motivate and energise you to do better, achieving incredible results. Although this pressure to perform can have a profoundly negative impact on our mental well-being and overall quality of life and stop perfectionists from celebrating their successes.

From the outside, perfectionists often appear to have it all together, to be in control, managing it all, doing very well. But this is nothing more than a well-crafted mask. Internally, there is usually massive self-doubt, constant self-criticism, and perpetual fear of not being good enough. Perfectionists often feel like imposters or frauds and struggle with self-doubt. Additionally, focusing on mistakes and not successes can increase stress, cause excessive rumination, lack of self-worth and even suicidal thoughts.


Characteristics of the Perfectionist Mindset

All-or-Nothing Thinking:

Perfectionists often engage in black-and-white thinking. This is where they believe they are either perfect or a complete failure, with no middle-ground. This of course is damaging to self-esteem, to relationships, to career and study and to almost all areas of life.

Fear of Failure:

Perfectionists have an intense fear of making mistakes or falling short of their own unrealistic expectations. This fear can be debilitating, causing the person to freeze and lose motivation. Alternatively, it can lead to so much stress and anxiety, that mistakes are more likely to happen, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Harsh Self-Criticism:

Perfectionists tend to be overly self-critical, judging themselves harshly for perceived imperfections or mistakes. This often means that wins and successes are overlooked, and mistakes are highlighted. This is the person who gets 99% on their exam, focuses on the 1%, and feels a complete failure.

Approval Seeking:

Perfectionists seek validation and approval from others, basing their self-worth on external feedback. This can lead to people-pleasing behaviours and losing your sense of self.


Due to the fear of not meeting their own high standards, perfectionists may procrastinate or avoid tasks altogether, leading to more feelings of failure and damaging their self-esteem further.


The Impacts of Perfectionism

Psychological Distress:

Perfectionism can lead to significant psychological distress. The relentless pressure to achieve perfection can contribute to anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. And this constant fear of making mistakes or falling short of impossibly high standards can create a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and self-criticism.

Procrastination and Paralysis:

Paradoxically, perfectionism can also lead to procrastination and paralysis. The fear of not being able to meet one’s own unrealistic expectations can be so overwhelming that individuals may find themselves avoiding tasks or projects altogether. And this can hinder personal and professional growth and prevent individuals from reaching their full potential.

Interpersonal Challenges:

Perfectionism can strain relationships. The intense focus on flawless performance and the need for external validation can create distance between perfectionists and their loved ones. Their excessive self-criticism may lead to feelings of inadequacy and an inability to accept praise or constructive feedback.


Overcoming Perfectionism


Recognising the detrimental effects of perfectionism and seeking support from a registered psychologist can be transformative. Psychologists are trained professionals who specialise in understanding human behaviour and can provide valuable guidance to individuals struggling with perfectionistic tendencies. Here’s how a psychologist can help:

  • Developing Healthy Coping Strategies: Psychologists can assist in developing healthy coping strategies to manage perfectionistic tendencies. They can help individuals challenge their unrealistic expectations, cultivate self-compassion, and adopt a more balanced and realistic approach to achievement.
  • Addressing Underlying Issues: Perfectionism often stems from deep-rooted emotional or psychological factors. Psychologists can help uncover and address these underlying issues, such as low self-esteem, fear of failure, or the need for external validation. By working through these concerns, individuals can find healthier ways to pursue their goals.
  • Building Resilience and Self-Acceptance: Psychologists can guide individuals towards building resilience and self-acceptance. They can help individuals recognise their inherent worth beyond their achievements and assist in cultivating a positive and nurturing mindset. This shift in perspective can reduce the impact of perfectionism on mental well-being and enhance overall life satisfaction.


In conclusion, while striving for excellence is admirable, the pursuit of perfection can be a double-edged sword. The impacts of perfectionism on mental health and personal fulfillment are significant. Whilst many perfectionists will claim that the trait “makes them a better person” there is often a dark truth that they have not fully faced. Speaking personally, I am a recovering perfectionist and I understand what it is like to live with constant self-criticism, unrealistically high expectations, fear of failure and depression.

Seeking help from a registered psychologist with experience treating perfectionism can provide the necessary tools and support to navigate the challenges associated with perfectionism. By embracing a more balanced and compassionate approach, individuals can find joy in their achievements and foster healthier relationships with themselves and others. Remember, perfection is an illusion, but personal growth and self-acceptance are lifelong journeys worth pursuing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or arrange an appointment.

Michelle xx


Image source: Pixabay @ Alexas_Fotos

OCD: the invisible burden

OCD: the invisible burden


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD for short, is a mental health condition that can have a profound impact on an individual’s life. This disorder is characterised by unwanted, intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors that individuals feel compelled to perform in order to alleviate their anxiety. Whilst the individual feels temporary relief from performing the compulsive behaviour, it is usually short-lived and in fact only serves to reinforce and exacerbate the entire anxious-obsessive-compulsive cycle. 

While the exact cause of OCD is still unknown, research has suggested that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors contribute to its development.


Symptoms of OCD can vary widely from person to person, but typically fall into two categories: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are persistent and intrusive thoughts, urges, or images that cause significant anxiety or distress. Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that individuals feel compelled to perform in response to their obsessions.

Some common obsessions associated with OCD include a fear of contamination or germs, unwanted, taboo, aggressive or violent thoughts, the need for symmetry or exactness, and intrusive sexual thoughts. Common compulsions may include excessive cleaning or hand-washing, repeatedly checking things like door and window locks or appliances, counting or repeating words or phrases, and avoiding situations that trigger obsessions.


While there is no known cure for OCD, several effective treatment approaches exist which can help manage and significantly reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with their OCD.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP), a type of CBT, involves gradually exposing individuals to their obsessions while preventing them from performing their compulsions.
  • Medications such as antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are also often prescribed to treat OCD.
  • ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) is an approach based in CBT and Mindfulness, which helps a person connect to their values, unhook from unhelpful thoughts and focus on appropriate action-taking.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques, can help reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calmness and well-being.
  • Additionally, joining a support group for individuals with OCD can provide a sense of community and understanding, as well as access to valuable resources and coping strategies.


In conclusion, living with OCD is an invisible burden, something that you have likely kept a secret and tried to hide from those around you. OCD can certainly be challenging, distressing and embarrassing. And without treatment it can gradually get worse and worse, impacting more and more areas of your thoughts and behaviours. In essence, it’s a complex anxiety disorder that can significantly impact your quality of life. While the causes of OCD are not yet fully understood, effective treatment is available to help you manage symptoms and improve your overall well-being, but you will need the support and guidance of a registered mental health professional.

If you’d like to learn more about OCD and how to manage it, then get in touch and schedule an appointment or you may like to check out my Tame Your OCD Workbook – 30+ pages

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or arrange an appointment.

Michelle xx

Mindfulness vs Meditation

Mindfulness vs Meditation

Understanding the Key Differences

Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that have gained popularity in recent years as effective tools to manage stress, anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Although they are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. While they share some similarities, there are also significant differences between the two practices. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between mindfulness and meditation, so you can decide which practice suits your needs best in the moment.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to focus on the present moment, usually through noticing your thoughts, feelings, and/or physical sensations with and attitude of openness, curiousity and non-judgmental awareness. Mindfulness is about being aware of what’s happening around you and within you, without getting caught up in it or reacting to it.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a more formal practice that involves training your mind to focus and concentrate, usually on a specific object, such as your breath, a sound, an image or a mantra (repeating a word or phrase). It’s about achieving a state of relaxation, inner peace and mental clarity by quieting the mind and letting go of distracting thoughts, emotions, sensations and moods.

Key Differences between Mindfulness and Meditation


One of the main differences between mindfulness and meditation is their focus. Mindfulness is about being present and aware of your thoughts and emotions, while meditation is about focusing your attention on a particular object or mantra.


Mindfulness and meditation also have different goals. Mindfulness is about developing a non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts and feelings and can be practiced almost anywhere at anytime. Meditation on the other hand,  is about achieving greater self-awareness, the ability to access states of pure consciousness, and to facilitate a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity.


Another key difference between mindfulness and meditation is the techniques used. Mindfulness is a more informal technique and can be practiced in most situations, simply by paying attention to your breath, feelings or sensory experience of your surroundings. Meditation, however is a more formal practice which typically requires a quiet and comfortable environment, and a specific technique, such as counting your breaths or repeating a mantra.


Both mindfulness and meditation offer numerous benefits for physical and mental health. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while also improving sleep and overall well-being. Mindfulness is also great for helping you to regulate your emotions and manage chronic pain. Meditation can help reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, and improve focus and concentration.


In summary, mindfulness and meditation are two distinct but overlapping practices, and each has unique benefits and techniques. Mindfulness is about being present and aware of your thoughts and emotions, while meditation is about focusing your attention on a particular object or mantra to achieve a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity. Whether you choose to practice mindfulness, meditation, or both, incorporating these practices into your daily routine can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or check out my Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners eBook – 44-beautifully presented pages introducing you to mindfulness meditation

Michelle xx

Make Journaling A Habit

Make Journaling A Habit

Why You Should Journal Daily


In today’s fast-paced world, where we are constantly bombarded with information and distractions, it can be challenging to take a moment to reflect on our lives. Journaling is a powerful tool that can help us slow down and process our thoughts and emotions. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of journaling and why you should make it a part of your daily routine.

What is Journaling?

Before we dive into the benefits of journaling, let’s define what it is. Journaling is the act of recording your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a notebook or digital format. It can take many forms, including daily reflections, gratitude lists, and goal setting. The key is to make it a regular practice and commit to doing it consistently.

Benefits of Journaling

  1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety – Journaling has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. By putting your thoughts and worries on paper, you can gain clarity and perspective. This can help you process difficult emotions and feel more in control.

  2. Improves Mental Health – Regular journaling can also improve your overall mental health. It can help you identify negative thought patterns and work through them. Additionally, journaling has been shown to boost mood and increase feelings of well-being.

  3. Increases Self-Awareness – Journaling is an excellent tool for self-reflection and self-discovery. By recording your thoughts and experiences, you can gain insight into your behavior and emotions. This can help you make positive changes in your life and develop greater self-awareness.

  4. Enhances Creativity – Journaling can also boost your creativity. By regularly engaging in the act of writing, you can train your brain to think more creatively. Additionally, journaling can help you generate new ideas and insights.

  5. Improves Memory – Finally, journaling can also improve your memory. Writing down your experiences and thoughts can help you remember them more clearly. This can be especially helpful for processing and remembering important events in your life.

How to Start Journaling

If you’re new to journaling, it can be intimidating to know where to start. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Choose a Format: Decide whether you want to journal in a physical notebook or using a digital platform. There are many apps and websites available that can make digital journaling easy and convenient.

  2. Set a Schedule: Decide when you will journal and how often. Aim to make it a daily practice, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.

  3. Keep it Simple: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to write a certain amount or to create a perfect piece of writing. The goal is to simply record your thoughts and feelings.

  4. Focus on the Positive: Consider starting each entry with a list of things you’re grateful for or a positive affirmation. This can help set the tone for a productive and uplifting journaling session.

  5. Finish with a Takeaway – Not that kind of takeaway! When you journal, try to finish by connecting with something you have learned from the experience you are journaling about, or a takeaway that has come from writing in your journal.

Using prompts

A lot of journals these days come with prompts in them, and I think this is a fantastic idea, especially if you are new to journaling or need some structure. If you idon’thave a journal with prompts, then try using some of these or create your own:

  1. What are three things that you are grateful for today, and why?
  2. Describe a moment when you felt truly happy, and what made you feel that way.
  3. Write about a challenge you are currently facing, and brainstorm some potential solutions.
  4. What are some things you have learned recently that you find interesting or useful?
  5. Write about a person who has had a significant impact on your life, and why they are important to you.
  6. Describe your ideal day, from start to finish.
  7. What are some goals you have for the next month, and how do you plan to achieve them?
  8. Write a letter to your younger self, giving advice or encouragement.
  9. What is something you have been putting off that you know you need to do? Write about why you have been avoiding it, and what steps you can take to start tackling it.
  10. Reflect on a recent mistake you made, and what you learned from it.

I hope these prompts help inspire your journaling!


Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you reduce stress, improve your mental health, increase self-awareness, enhance creativity, and improve memory. By making it a daily practice, you can reap the many benefits of this simple yet effective tool.


You might also be interested in downloading a copy of my 98-page Self-Care Journal for Women. It’s a fabulous way to start a journalling habit focused on self-care, which is so important for so many women in this world.


  1. Can journaling be done on a computer? Yes, journaling can be done on a computer or other digital device.

  2. Is it necessary to write in a journal every day? While it’s not necessary to write in a journal every day, doing so can be beneficial for establishing a routine and making it a habit.

  3. Can journaling be therapeutic? Yes, journaling can be a therapeutic practice that can help you process difficult emotions and experiences.

  4. Are there different types of journaling? Yes, you can create a Gratitude Journal, or a Daily Goals Journal, or even a Today’s Learning’s Journal. You can also just write about your experiences including your inner thoughts and feelings. 

  5. Can men do journaling? Of course, silly!

 If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or book in a session in person or by phone/video.

Michelle xx