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

Put Yourself First For Once

Put Yourself First For Once

“‘The Importance of Self-Care

As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Yet, so many of us find ourselves constantly putting the needs of others before our own, neglecting our own self-care in the process. This can lead to burnout, low self-esteem, and a sense of dissatisfaction with life. But it’s time to make a change. It’s time to start putting yourself first for once.

Why Self-Care is Important

Self-care is not selfish. In fact, it’s an essential aspect of living a healthy and happy life. When we take care of ourselves, we’re better equipped to take care of others. We’re more energised, more focused, and more resilient. Self-care encompasses a wide range of activities, from getting enough sleep and eating well to engaging in hobbies and spending time with loved ones. It’s about taking the time to prioritise our own physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Building Self-Care into Your Routine

One of the best ways to put yourself first is to build self-care into your daily routine. This can include anything from taking a relaxing bath or going for a walk, to meditating or practicing yoga. It’s important to find activities that work for you and that you enjoy. Self-care shouldn’t feel like a chore, but rather a pleasurable and fulfilling part of your day. Additionally, scheduling “me-time” into your week can help ensure that you’re making time for yourself on a regular basis.

Saying “No” More Often

Saying “no” can be difficult, especially if you’re a chronic people-pleaser. But learning to say “no” is a crucial part of putting yourself first. It’s important to remember that you don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s okay to prioritise your own needs and wants. Saying “no” can be empowering, and it can help you set boundaries and take control of your own life. It will also help you respect yourself and gain respect from others.

Doing Something Fun Every Day

Life can be stressful, and it’s important to take time to enjoy the little things. Even if it’s just for five minutes, doing something fun every day can help boost your mood and improve your overall well-being. This can be anything from watching your favorite TV show to engaging in a hobby you enjoy.

Stopping Things that Don’t Fill You Up

It’s easy to get caught up in doing things that don’t add value to our lives. Whether it’s saying “yes” to social events we don’t really want to attend or taking on extra responsibilities at work, it’s important to acknowledge when something isn’t serving us and to let it go. This can be difficult, but it’s essential that we make space for the things that truly matter. Remember, you are designing your future with every decision you make today.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Social media has made it easier than ever to compare ourselves to others. But the truth is, comparison is the thief of joy. When we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, we’re putting ourselves at the bottom of the list and setting ourselves up for disappointment. Instead, focus on your own goals and achievements. Run your own race and celebrate your own successes.


Putting yourself first is not selfish. It’s essential for living a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. By building self-care into your routine, learning to say “no,” doing something fun every day, letting go of things that don’t fill you up, and stopping the comparison game, you can start prioritising your own needs and wants. Remember, you are responsible for you. And that’s something to take seriously and celebrate.

Michelle xx