A few of the common beliefs codependents hold are:
• Other people’s criticisms are true
• People won’t like me if I make a mistake.
• Love must be earned.
• I don’t deserve love and success.
• My wants and needs should be sacrificed for others.
• I must be loved and approved of to feel okay.
• Other people’s opinions carry more weight than mine.
• I’m only lovable if a partner loves me (or at least needs me.)
Many codependents are perfectionists and hold false, perfectionistic beliefs that make them feel inferior or a failure. See “I’m Not Perfect, I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism.)
Challenge your beliefs
Once you’ve identified your beliefs, challenge them.
• Ask yourself what evidence you have to support your beliefs and thoughts?
• Might you be mistaken or biased?
• Are you certain your interpretations of events are accurate?
• Check out your assumptions by asking people questions.
• Is there any evidence for another point-of-view?
• Are there instances in your experience or in the experience of others that even occasionally contradict your assumptions? Survey people to find out.
• Do people disagree with your conclusions? Find out.
• What would you say to someone else who thought and felt as you did?
• What would a caring friend say to you?
• Do you feel pressured to believe as you do? Why?
• Are you free to change your mind?
• What are the consequences of remaining rigid in your thinking?
• What would be the consequences of changing your mind?
It’s not enough to read about codependency. Real change requires that you risk behaving differently. Instead of being your codependent self, start “Affirming Your True, Authentic Self.”
Think good thoughts about yourself. Change how you talk to yourself. Start noticing what you like about yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t,” say “I won’t,” or “I can.” Follow the steps in 10 Steps to Self-Esteem: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism and webinar, How to Raise Your Self-Esteem.
Authenticity is a powerful antidote for shame. Express who you really are. Speak up, being authentic, and share your thoughts and feelings. Set boundaries. (See How to Speak Your Mind: Become Assertive and Set Limits and the webinar, How to Be Assertive)
Take action to do what you really want. Try new things, even though you don’t believe you’re good at it! Discover you can learn and improve. Then you know you can learn anything. That’s empowerment!