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What’s the connection between codependency and boundaries?
Below you’ll find a short video that I made discussing the link between codependency and boundaries, some bullet points to reinforce the main ideas, and some additional resources to aid in your understanding and support you in learning to set boundaries.
For this discussion, it’s important to remember that boundaries serve several purposes, including:
- Boundaries separate me from you. My boundaries define me as a separate, unique person; I have my own ideas, values, thoughts, and feelings and I know that it’s okay for me to think and feel different than you do. Boundaries ensure that I’m not enmeshed with others.
- Boundaries are a way to express how I want to be treated. They are limits that I set for myself and others.
People with codependent traits often struggle with boundaries because:
1) They focus on other people and their problems (caretaking, helping, fixing). As a result, they often neglect their own needs and undervalue themselves.
2) They may lose sight of who they are, what they need, and how they feel—all of which are needed for setting boundaries. Who we are and what we need direct us toward the type of boundaries we set. Our feelings are also indicators that we need to set boundaries. For example, if you feel tired or resentful or afraid, it’s probably because you’re lacking boundaries.
3) Codependents often struggle to speak up for themselves. They may think they shouldn’t need anything or feel worthy, so they don’t assert their needs and set boundaries. This relates to my first point above—codependents prioritize others over themselves and sometimes let others take advantage of their kindness or loyalty.
4) The caretaking and focus on others that I’ve discussed is often fueled by fears of making other people angry or being abandoned. These fears can be unconscious, but they contribute to not setting boundaries or asserting your needs or preferences because you’re afraid other people will get angry.
This article provides a fuller discussion of all codependent traits.
©2022 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Canva.com.
For more information about codependency, please visit the codependency page on my website.
For more information about boundaries, consider getting a copy of The Better Boundaries Workbook (available at most bookstores).
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Learn more about how to end codependent relationships
Navigating the Codependency Maze provides concrete exercises to help you manage anxiety, detach with love, break through denial, practice healthy communication, and end codependent thinking. It was written by Sharon Martin, a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience helping people overcome codependency, people-pleasing, and perfectionism and find their way back to themselves. For more info and to view sample pages, click HERE.