Last week we talked about the ways in which a Narcissist creates dependency. This week I wanted to finish off the segment by introducing ways to break out of that dependency.

Nepoleon Hill, author of Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, calls it, ‘removing the cobwebs from your thinking. Darlene Lancer, author of Conquering Fear and Codependency, calls it, ‘pulling the weeds from your garden.’ The bottom line is if you want to battle your way out of Codependency you’ve got to change how you think and feel about yourself .

There is no magic pill, no potion, no quick fix to changing the way a Codependent perceives their reality. Learning how to manage your Codependency is a process and it takes time. The goal is to change little unhealthy behaviors into healthy behaviors and we do that through repetition. Remember our subconscious mind learns through repetition so we want to practice these behaviors over and over again until they become automatic and we don’t even have to think about them.

Most codependents, as children, had to get very good at learning how to read a room. They learned that their safety was dependent upon how well they were able to pick up the clues to the feelings of their caregivers. If they guessed wrong it could mean physical punishment like a spanking, or a verbal assault, or it could mean their parents withheld love and attention. Codependents had to get very good at learning whether or not it was safe to approach or whether they needed to retreat or become invisible. Consequently, they became very good at learning how to ignore their own feelings. They learned that their wants and needs were not as important as other people’s, so they cultivated a way to shut them out and ignore them. Now they are adults that are disconnected to their feelings, with deep seeded beliefs that there is something wrong with them and that they are flawed and not good enough. The following is a list of behaviors that we can practice in order to reconnect to our feelings and diminish the role codependency plays in our lives.

Give your feelings a voice: Be mindful of what you are feeling throughout the day. Buy a journal and start paying attention to your thoughts and feelings as you go through your day. Write out what triggers your feelings and why you think it made you feel the way it did. This may sound silly, but when your feelings have been trivialized your whole life, by you, as well as everyone else, you stop giving them the attention they deserve and act as if they are not important. The first step to reengaging with our feelings is to acknowledge them. This is an exercise in doing just that, as well as honoring them and giving them an opportunity to be heard.

Feel you feelings: Sit comfortably, in a quiet space, close your eyes and allow yourself to just feel. Don’t force anything. Allow your feelings to flow in and through you. Don’t hold on to anything, just notice it and watch it pass. Esther Hicks tells us that our feelings are our compass, they tell us when we are on track or off track. What are the predominant feelings that you are experiencing? Are they good feelings or bad feelings? Don’t judge them or try to change them, just notice them and let them pass through you.

Challenge that damn voice: I talk a lot about the critical parent voice (CPV). It plays a huge role in codependency and it has an enormous influence on how we think and feel. As I’ve said many times we are not this voice. We are the observer of this voice. This voice is our disease and its agenda is to keep us stuck and hurting. Let’s say a thought comes into your head (I miss my ex that cheated on me). Your CPV will take that thought and pull things out to hurt you further (look how happy he is with her), (he’s right it’s all my fault, I’m the one with the problem), (no one will ever love you look at you), (if only I didn’t say X,Y,Z then he wouldn’t have left)… Notice how their goal is to make you feel worse, to make you confused, jealous, anxious and responsible.

They help us self-sabotage by encouraging us to find reasons to do things we know we shouldn’t (just text him and tell him to pick us his stuff, you’re not really breaking no contact, you’re just clearing out his stuff so you don’t have to look at it). What’s really going on here is it’s trying to help you find a reason to reengage.  It wants you back in the toxic relationship and it’s trying to find a reason for you to make that happen. It’s the same voice that tells you to eat that piece of cake when you’re on a diet. Its goal is always to sabotage and interfere with your attempts to break the cycle and stop playing the tape. Thoughts that come from the CPV make you feel horrible and when you don’t know what they are and they’re allowed to run amok in your head it creates a really miserable existence, where you feel powerless and constantly hurt and in the fog.

When you know that you are not that voice, it takes away its power and it minimizes its impact. When you are confronted with these types of thoughts take a step back, label the thoughts and feelings (this is my disease), minimize it and throw it away, then turn your focus onto something positive like you and your future.

For my readers who like to swear, you can simply tell it to f### off. “F’ off voice. I’m not going there.”

Some therapists suggest giving the voice a name and its own personality so that you will recognize it when it comes and you will know that it’s not you. The act of consistently challenging this voice weakens its hold on you and you will start to hear it less and less. It still pops up in my head occasionally, but I’m at a place where I instantly know what it is and I toss it away and I don’t pay it any mind. If you practice these techniques you will get to a place where it barely rears its ugly head and when it does you’ll just be able to dismiss it and go about your day.

Conquer the need for perfection: Acceptance is how we conquer our belief that we have to be perfect. This belief keeps us from living and from trying all of the things that makes life worth living. How many times have you heard yourself say, “I can’t do that. I’m to…..” Acceptance doesn’t mean that we like something and aren’t willing to change it if we can. It simply means that we are living in reality and it is what it is in this moment and it’s okay. Just being who we are is okay.

Pump up your self-esteem: There are a few techniques I’d recommend that will help you feel better about you. Try the following:

Write down 3 things you like about yourself every day. This puts your focus on the positive aspects of yourself, so that you’re paying more attention to the good things and less on the bad.

Write down 3 things you are grateful for every day. This raises your vibrational frequency. You always want to be in a joyful and grateful state of mind. The more positive your state of mind the more positive people and positive circumstances will be drawn to you.

Try the Mirror Technique. Louise Hay is a big proponent of this exercise. Sit in front of a mirror and start to say positive things to yourself – I love you, you’re beautiful, you have pretty eyes, you are a kind soul, you are a really good person. For a codependent this is going to feel really uncomfortable at first but keep doing it.

Notice when a person gives you a complement how do you behave? Do you shrug it off, downplay it? Notice how little attention you give to your accomplishments or anything good about you. You’re uncomfortable in the spotlight and you’re quick to downplay your positive traits. Get in the habit of saying and accepting positive things about yourself. When someone gives you a compliment just say thank you.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping: Like acupuncture, EFT allows you to release the negative beliefs and energy by gently tapping on meridian points throughout your body. It’s a lot easier to show than it is to describe, so take a look at this video and give it a try:

Let me know in the comments section if you found these helpful or what techniques you’ve had success with.

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