The Real Codependent Relationship
Codependent relationships are out-of-balance, unhealthy relationships where we consistently sacrifice our own needs and happiness for our partner’s. What’s really happening, though, is that we are looking for approval from someone else, hoping they will do for us what we can’t do for ourselves, which is to improve our self-worth and love us—which they never do. And to get this, we will support another in just about anything—addictions, including drugs and alcohol, abusive behavior, immaturity, inattention, or lack of motivation. This kind of relationship is one-sided and often makes us feel trapped. But the real codependent relationship isn’t with someone else as much as it is with our own mind. In this article, I want to suggest another way to look at codependency—not on the outside with others, but on the inside with our mind.
There is us and then there is the mind-created us. The first one is us as our authentic selves. This is who we are when we are born, before society gets its hands on us and begins telling us who we are, how we are, and how the world is. As our authentic, pure selves, we know we are already good enough. If we were to continue in this true state of being, we would love others without conditions and experience joy on a regular basis. We would be fulfilled just because. Most of us don’t know us as our authentic selves. But that doesn’t mean we can’t remember.
When we are born, society begins to teach us its version of life, including everything about us. Words and concepts from other people’s points of view, often based on society’s collective opinions, are applied to us and we learn to think of ourselves in these terms. But this is not us. It’s someone else’s idea of us. This is the mind-created self because it comes from beliefs, thoughts and concepts, rather than from the heart, which signifies love, which is who we are as our authentic selves.
The crux of the mind-created self is the fear that we are not good enough—that we lack something, or many things. Believing in lack creates fear. We are now dependent on others to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves simply because we have been trained away from our own powerful, authentic truth. On the outside, this makes us codependent on others to get what we need—self-worth, ability, value, and love. On the inside, we are codependent on our trained beliefs and thoughts—our mind-created self, which then manifests as external codependent relationships.
We are listening to our minds instead of our hearts. And life in the mind-created world does not match life in the world of authentic love where we, and everyone else, is already good enough. It is the mind who tells us we need to find someone to make us feel better about ourselves and then it is the same mind who decides if we have done enough to be loved, which we never have because the program is built on a system of not good enough. We have a trained codependency on our mind and this is the cause of all of our frustration, unhealthy relationships, and our unhappiness.
It’s only our dependency on our mind-created thoughts that make us dependent on another person. These thoughts are not based on truth, they are based on trained beliefs and they are not in alignment with pure love. If we stop listening to the mind, if we stop believing we are not good enough, we will automatically connect with our authentic selves. The process begins with awareness that there is someone other than the mind-created us and that is the authentic, pure us.
Breaking Free from all Codependency
Once we become aware that we are slaves to the beliefs and concepts of the mind-created self, we begin to see the breadth and depth of this façade. As we uncover its tactics, which is anything that derives from a sense of inadequacy, we can stop participating in those tactics. We no longer have to give up our own needs and happiness for that of another—and more specifically, for a mind who tells us we are not good enough.
Below are five ways to begin breaking free from codependency, whether that is with others or with our own mind. Either way, it is time for us to be our authentic selves—no more powerlessness, no more trapped feelings, and no more trained mind living.
- Remember who we truly are. This may seem like a tall order for those who don’t know they are not who they think they are. But I am going to ask you to go out on a limb today and trust what your heart knows that your mind will never tell you—that you are not a collection of concepts, stories, and judgments—you are not who you have been trained to believe you are. Get used to this and dedicate yourself to remembering who you really are. You will find the truth.
- Stop making others happy at our expense. In a healthy relationship, we don’t need someone else to fulfill us or make us feel worthy, valuable, or loved. That means we have the freedom to be with someone, or we can be without them, and it is okay either way. It also means we can stop making others happy at our expense. Don’t do things you don’t really want to do for the purpose of gaining someone’s approval. Spend your time approving of yourself just as you are—just as you have always been, good enough. Do what you love and love what you do. Anything less isn’t authentic.
- Stop being afraid of not being good enough and of not being loved. These fears drive us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. We have to stop being afraid, period. Amazingly enough, it’s giving energy and attention to these fears that keeps them going, not because they are real or true. Stop buying into any story your mind tells you that includes you not being good enough or not being loved. You will notice that those concepts disappear once you stop keeping them alive by paying attention to them.
- Be brave and be true. We must be brave in order to be our true, authentic selves. There are a few reasons for this. First, we have believed we were someone else our entire lives. It takes a brave person to uncover the truth and remember who they really are. Second, there is a lot of support for the mind-created person you believed in. If you are going to be your authentic self, you are going to feel different and you are going to be different, though many people are also in the process of remembering their true selves today, so you will won’t be alone. It’s just that those closest to you might not be where you are. So, be brave. And be true. No matter what.
- Love yourself. This comes easily when we stop the negative self-talk that comes with the mind-created self. Don Miguel Ruiz does a great job of helping us get to this point in his book The Four Agreements (Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997). Loving yourself happens when you stop degrading and demeaning yourself. No more name-calling, no more feeling like others are better than you. Today is the day you remember who you truly are—love in all its pure, powerful glory!