Recovering from codependency is a process — often a long and challenging one.
You may find yourself wondering if you’re making progress. You may feel discouraged at times. And you may even feel like you’re sliding back into old patterns. These are all normal thoughts and concerns!
When you’ve been stuck in codependent thoughts and behaviors for a long time, it can be hard to know what recovery looks like. So, below are 27 signs of recovery from codependency to give you a more tangible picture of what recovery entails.
A few notes about codependency recovery
Even if you’ve been working at recovery for a long time, it’s unlikely that you’ve mastered all 27 items on this list and do them perfectly. That’s probably unrealistic for anyone. Remember, we’re aiming for progress not perfection with our recovery.
And if you’re early in your recovery, you may find this list overwhelming. It covers a lot! Don’t try to change everything all at once. That will lead to getting discouraged or not being able to maintain all the changes that you’re working on. I recommend, trying to change just one behavior or thought pattern at a time.
Signs of Codependency Recovery
- You validate your feelings and say nice things to yourself. You don’t rely on other people to make you feel valid and worthy.
- You notice what you do “right” rather than only the things you do “wrong” or imperfectly.
- You set realistic expectations for yourself. You don’t expect yourself to be perfect.
- You celebrate your progress, even baby steps in the right direction.
- You recognize that mistakes are part of learning and growing; they’re normal and not a sign of inadequacy.
- You take good care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You prioritize activities that make you feel good, help you heal, and that help you connect with yourself and other healthy individuals.
- You don’t take things personally. You know that what others think and say about you are reflections of their reality and who they are – they aren’t always accurate.
- You aren’t as reactive. You take time to think and calm yourself before responding. And you know that you don’t have to respond to everyone or everything.
- You know that you don’t owe people (especially difficult or controlling ones) an explanation for your choices. You are allowed to do what’s best for you even if others disagree.
- You let go of unhealthy relationships. You end relationships that are hurtful or you choose to spend less time with people who don’t share your values or who don’t support your health and personal growth.
- You can recognize manipulation, gaslighting, verbal and physical abuse, and no longer minimize or ignore them. You speak up when someone is treating you poorly.
- You allow yourself to rest without feeling guilty.
- You ask for what you need.
- You don’t try to prove your worth through achievements.
- You know that you can’t please everyone all of the time, so you’ve let go of that expectation. You’re more selective about whose opinions matter (and know that your own opinion is most important).
- You let yourself have fun, be silly, and relax and know that this isn’t a waste of time, but a normal need and positive thing to do for your emotional and physical health.
- You know that you have the right to be respected. You set limits and don’t let others take advantage of you.
- You accept that you can’t control other people and don’t obsess about trying to fix or change others.
- You know that you’re not responsible for other people’s feelings and choices.
- You don’t enable or try to protect people from the consequences of their own actions.
- You forgive yourself when you make a mistake.
- You have a strong sense of who you are; you know what’s important to you, what you like, and what your values and goals are. And you arrange your life to prioritize these things.
- You don’t base your worth on your appearance, achievements, wealth, age, relationship status, or other people’s opinions of you.
- You recognize that you didn’t cause your codependent thinking and behaviors, but you are responsible for your own healing.
- You take new relationships slowly so you can build trust before getting strongly attached.
- You ask for and accept help.
- You can tolerate unpleasant feelings.
Tips for Using this List
Tip #1: You can write a personalized list of your individual signs of recovery. Feel free to use this list as a starting point and delete items that don’t pertain to you and add additional items that are meaningful to your recovery.
Tip #2: You can use these signs of codependency recovery to set recovery goals. For example, you might look at #27 and ask yourself, “What goals do I have about being able to tolerate unpleasant feelings? How much or how often do I tolerate unpleasant feelings currently? How will I know if I’m tolerating my feelings more?” Then you can make a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goal. Here’s an example:
When I feel sad or angry or ashamed, I will sit quietly for 5 minutes without distracting myself with my phone. I will do this at least twice per week and keep track of it in my journal.
Again, remember that recovery isn’t all-or-nothing. We are aiming to make progress and slowly work towards being able to do more of these recovery tasks consistently over time.
At this point you may be wondering how to recover from codependency. That is a difficult question to answer in a blog post because we can accomplish these recovery tasks in a multitude of ways and some things work well for some people and not for others. There is definitely trial and error involved. With that being said, I encourage you to read the following articles:
- How to Start Healing from Codependency
- 12 Reminders to Help You Change Your Codependent Thinking
- How to Take Care of Yourself when You’re Busy Taking Care of Everyone Else
- How to Change Your All-or-Nothing Thinking
I also have a free resource library full of worksheets, reading lists, journal prompts, and more to help you with your recovery. To access these resources, sign up below for my weekly emails and lots of free tools.