Codependents & Boundaries: Why Do They Struggle?

If you’ve been taught to disregard your own needs and instead focus on meeting the needs of others ever since your childhood, there is a good chance that you have developed at least some codependent traits. As a codependent, you may struggle to recognize your self-worth without receiving constant affection and love from other people in your life. 

This desperate need for reassurance and love often leads the codependent to sacrifice their own identity and have poor boundaries in their relationships. Luckily, codependency recovery coaching may be of great help in this regard, teaching you how to set healthy boundaries and love yourself without needing others for reassurance. 

In this article, you will learn what triggers, codependency, why you may struggle with setting boundaries and what you can do to combat your codependent traits. Keep on reading.

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What Triggers Codependency?

What Does It Mean To Lack Boundaries?

In part, codependents tend to stay in relationship with narcissists or individuals who have a substance use disorder because of their triggers. These triggers can be feelings, emotions, or thoughts coming from internal and external sources. They can be especially intense for codependents, who are highly sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. Triggers can also be seen as wounds that typically come from past hurt and trauma.

Internal Codependency Triggers 

Everybody has their inner critic that tells them that they are not good enough or don’t measure up to the high standards they’ve established for themselves. This inner critic comes from learned dysfunctional beliefs we have about ourselves, often triggering shame if these beliefs are not maintained. 

As a codependent, you can get triggered when you feel like you’re being too selfish, which may push you towards offering help even when it might harm you. Another common codependent trigger is being told that you are “overly sensitive” or dramatic because your parents or caregivers convinced you of that when you were little. 

External Codependency Triggers 

Your triggers can also be signs of impending danger you experienced before being hurt in the past. You have learned to react to these warning signs in order to save yourself from harm. Although it can be helpful to react to such warnings in certain situations, you might have a dysfunctional reaction when you are reminded of a hurtful experience. Codependents generally come from abusive or dysfunctional families, and may overreact to situations that mirror the relationship they had with their parents or caregivers. 

What Does It Mean To Lack Boundaries?

If you have codependent traits, you may have a tendency to seek relationships that require you to look after or fix your partner. This happens because you’ve learned that other’s needs are more important than your own. Your childhood wounds might actually lead you to recreate the stressful and dysfunctional relationships you’ve known since you were little. 

This often leads to difficulties in setting healthy boundaries. You may find it extremely hard to say “no” to your partner or become anxious when they are displeased or angry with you. On the other hand, you may exhibit needy behaviors, constantly seeking attention from your partner, and feeling unhappy when they don’t seem to need your help. 

Signs You Lack Healthy Boundaries 

Here are some additional signs that you may struggle with setting good boundaries in your relationships: 

What Happens If You Don’t Set Boundaries?

Not setting good boundaries can cause you to harbor a great deal of frustration and resentment, which can bubble up and rise up to the surface after a while. You may feel like you’re constantly helping and getting nothing in return. Or you might find another partner who needs your help and care in order to maintain a level of control in the relationship. 

Over time, the anger and frustration may build up so much that you might start to lash out against your partner. Compromising your happiness in an attempt to maintain a “perfect” relationship and always be helpful to your partner will drain all of your energy and time, resulting in numerous conflicts in your relationship. .

How To Stop Codependency And Set Boundaries

Fortunately, there are ways to increase your boundary setting abilities and build happier and more fulfilling relationships. Try the following tips for overcoming codependency: 

  1. Determine your triggers

    The first step towards creating better boundaries is understanding what actually caused your codependent tendencies. Work on exploring your past hurts and healing your core wounds. 

  2. Understand the difference between support and codependency

    Helping other people is not a bad thing. But codependency often entails helping others for the wrong reasons, such as wanting to influence their mood and control their behaviors.

  3. Remember that you are responsible only for your own feelings

    While you may feel like your partner needs you to be happy, their feelings are actually not your responsibility. Try focusing more on yourself and your needs and take responsibility for them.

  4. Practice saying “no” to other people

    Although you may feel compelled to help others, you can only set healthy boundaries if you learn how to say “no” to things that go against your own values and voice opinions that may differ from your partner’s. 

  5. Accept and integrate your feelings of guilt

    When you first refuse to help your partner, you are bound to feel guilty. Understand that these feelings come from the dysfunctional behaviors you learned in childhood and accept them for what they are.

  6. Consider professional help

    If you can’t overcome your codependent tendencies on your own, seeking expert assistance may be the best course of action. Experienced codependency coaches can give you a new perspective and push you in the right direction.

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What Happens If You Don't Set Boundaries?

Whether you are struggling with setting better boundaries for yourself or want to learn how to deal with a stonewalling partner, PIVOT is here to help. Our insightful advocates will help you understand and integrate your past experiences and trauma, guiding you towards positive change and healthier relationships. 

Our codependency retreats and workshops are designed to help you gain relational freedom and find balance in your relationships. Additionally, we offer in-depth coaching for individuals struggling with codependency and other relationship issues. Contact a PIVOT Advocate today and find the help you deserve. 

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