Codependency For Dummies [NOOK Book]


The tools you need to break the patterns of codependency

Codependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from generation to generation. Codependents have trouble accepting themselves, so they hide who they are to be accepted by someone else. Codependency For Dummies offers assistance in understanding the history, symptoms, causes, and relationship dynamics of codependency and lays out a clear plan for recovery with exercises, ...

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Codependency For Dummies

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The tools you need to break the patterns of codependency

Codependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from generation to generation. Codependents have trouble accepting themselves, so they hide who they are to be accepted by someone else. Codependency For Dummies offers assistance in understanding the history, symptoms, causes, and relationship dynamics of codependency and lays out a clear plan for recovery with exercises, practical advice, and daily reminders to help you know, honor, protect, and express yourself.

  • Are you codependent? — discover the typical symptoms of codependency and take a self-assessment questionnaire to determine if you're a codependent

  • "De-Nile" isn't just a river — find out how you've denied someone else's behavior, your codependency, your feelings, and your needs — and how you can overcome it

  • Find your voice and take action — get the tools you need to communicate assertively, set boundaries, bring positive experiences into your life, and cope with relapse

  • Put the "I" in independence — put your new-found self-esteem into action by setting goals and pursuing your passions

  • Don't go it alone — reach out for help and support with Twelve Step meetings, retreats, psychotherapy, hotlines, and shelters

Open the book and find:

  • Characteristics of codependents

  • The importance of making recovery your first priority

  • Functional and dysfunctional family systems

  • How your upbringing could have led you down the path to codependency

  • What letting go and detachment entail

  • Tips for learning to value yourself

  • Childhood wounds that need to be healed

  • Daily reminders

Learn to:

  • Break the pattern of conduct that keeps you in harmful relationships

  • Create healthy boundaries, coping skills, and expectations

  • Eliminate feelings of guilt, blame, and responsibility

  • Heal a dysfunctional relationship

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118236871
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/6/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 56,435
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Darlene Lancer, MFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, having worked with individuals and couples for 25 years. She's a consultant, author, and speaker on relationships and codependency. Find her blog and more at and

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I: What is Codependency and Who is Codependent? 7

Chapter 1: When Relationships Hurt 9

Chapter 2: A New Definition of Codependency 27

Chapter 3: Characteristics of Codependents 39

Chapter 4: So, Are You Codependent? 69

Part II: Breaking the Cycle of Codependency: Beginning Recovery 77

Chapter 5: Crossing De-Nile to Recovery 79

Chapter 6: The Process of Recovery 89

Chapter 7: How Did You Become Codependent? 97

Chapter 8: Taking Stock of Who You Are 119

Chapter 9: Nonattachment and Acceptance 133

Chapter 10: Learning to Value Yourself 155

Part III: The Skills: Taking Action 169

Chapter 11: Finding Your Voice 171

Chapter 12: Recovery and Your Family, Friends, and Lovers 191

Chapter 13: Going for the Gold – Healing Your Past 203

Chapter 14: Healing Pleasures 221

Chapter 15: Coping with Relapse 237

Part IV: Standing on Your Own: Leaving Codependency Behind 249

Chapter 16: Relationships that Work 251

Chapter 17: Empowering You 269

Chapter 18: Where to Get Help 285

Part V: The Part of Tens 293

Chapter 19: Ten Ways to Love Yourself 295

Chapter 20: Ten Daily Reminders 301

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Interviews & Essays

Cheat Sheet for Codependency For Dummies

From Codependency For Dummies by Darlene Lancer

If you wonder whether you may be codependent, you're not alone. Different types of people may behave in a codependent manner, and codependence manifests in varying degrees of severity. Not all codependents are unhappy, while others live in pain or quiet desperation. Codependency is not something you heal from and are forever done with, but you can enjoy yourself, your life, and your relationships. Should you choose to embark on recovery, you're beginning an exciting and empowering journey.

Determining If You're Codependent
If you're wondering if you're codependent, take a look at the following list of symptoms. You don't have to have all of them to be codependent, and there are degrees of severity of codependence. If untreated, codependency gets worse over time, but with help you can recover and be much more effective in your work and relationships. Here are some common traits:
• Low self-esteem
• Not liking or accepting yourself
• Feeling your inadequate in some way
• Thinking you're not quite enough
• Worrying you are or could be a failure
• Concerned with what other people think about you
 Pleasing others and giving up yourself
 Poor boundaries
• Boundaries that are too weak and there's not enough separateness between you and your partner
• Boundaries that are too rigid and keep you from being close
• Boundaries that flip back and forth between too close and too rigid
 Dysfunctional Communication
• Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings
• Difficulty setting boundaries — saying "No" or stopping abuse
• Abusive language
• Lack of assertiveness about your needs
• Afraid of being alone or out of a relationship
• Feeling trapped in a bad relationship and unable to leave
• Relying too much on others opinions
Intimacy problems
• Avoidance of closeness
• Losing yourself
• Trying to control or manipulate others
• Feeling trapped in a dysfunctional relationship
• Denial of codependency
• Denial about a painful reality in your relationship
• Denial of your feelings
• Denial of your needs
• Controlling your own feelings
• Managing and controlling people in your life; telling them what to do
• Manipulating others to feel or behave like you want (people pleasing is a manipulation)
 Addiction to a substance or process
 Painful emotions
• Shame
• Anxiety
• Fear
• Guilt
• Hopelessness
• Despair
• Depression

Reducing Stress through Relaxation
The key to overcoming codependency is relaxing and building a loving relationship with yourself. At Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson developed a type of relaxation that doesn't require any spiritual beliefs, but was very effective to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and anger. It's called the Relaxation Response. Try it and if you like it do it every day.
1. Sit in a relaxed position, and close your eyes.
2. Starting at your toes and progressing to your face, relax each muscle, and keep them relaxed.
3. Breathe normally through your nose, and repeat "one" silently with each inhale and again with each exhale. Do not control your breath.
4. Do this daily for 10 to 20 minutes, and take a few minutes before returning to normal activities.

Turning the Focus onto Yourself
Focusing on someone else is a real problem for codependents. Letting go isn't easy. Turning that around so that your focus is on you doesn't make you selfish; in fact, it's showing respect for someone else's autonomy and boundaries. Here are some practical things you can do to:
• When you're together, remember not to watch the other person.
• Don't obsess or worry about him or her. Imagine putting the person in God's hands or surrounded by healing light. Send them love.
• Don't judge others, just as you don't want to be judged.
• Don't have expectations of others; instead, meet expectations of yourself.
• You didn't cause someone else's behavior. Others are responsible for their behavior, and you're only responsible for yours.
• Write about your feelings in a journal. Read it to someone close to you or a therapist.
• Practice mediation or spirituality.
• Pursue your own interests and have fun.
• Remember you cannot change or "fix" someone else. Only he or she has the power to do so.
• Take a time out. If you're starting to react to someone or are in an argument, it's a good idea to step away and take some time to think things over. A good idea is to write in your journal.
• Write positive things about yourself in your journal every day. Look for things you did well or like about yourself, and write them down.
• Take the labels off. Sometimes, you can have expectations and make assumptions about someone very close to you which you wouldn't of a friend. Ask yourself how you would treat the other person if he or she wasn't your partner or parent.

Getting Help for Your Codependency
If you think you may be codependent, you need help to change your behavior. Here are some sources of help for those suffering from codependency:
• Read all you can about codependency (but reading alone is insufficient to change).
• Go to a Twelve Step meeting for codependents, such as Codependents Anonymous, called CoDA, or Al-Anon for family members of alcoholics. There are other Twelve Step groups for relatives of other addicts, such as for relatives of gamblers, narcotic addicts, and sex addicts. You can look on the Internet or in your phone book to find out where there's a meeting near you.
• Get counseling from someone familiar with codependency. It's preferable that they are licensed in your state. They may be marriage and family counselors, social workers, addiction specialists, psychologists, or psychiatrists.
You will probably find it hard to focus on and discipline yourself to make changes without the support of a group or therapist. If you're practicing an addiction, stopping that should be your first priority before tackling codependency. Here's a list of things you can do on your own to get started:
• When you're tempted to think or worry about someone else, turn your attention back to you.
• Pay attention to how you talk to and treat yourself. Much of low self-esteem is self-inflicted. Train yourself to speak gently and encouraging rather than telling yourself what you should or shouldn't be doing or what's wrong with you.
• Have some fun and pursue hobbies and interests of your own.
• Start a spiritual practice where you spend time alone with yourself. Meditation is an ideal way to help you become more calm and self-aware.
• Start looking for the positive in your life and what you do. Make a grateful list each day and read it to someone.
• Stand-up for yourself if someone criticizes, undermines, or tries to control you.
• Don't worry! That's not easy, but most worries never come to pass. You lose precious moments in the present. Mediation and talking things out with someone who knows about recovering from codependency can help you.
• Let go of control and the need to manage other people. Remember the saying, "Live and let live."
• Accept yourself, so you don't have to be perfect.
• Get in touch with your feelings. Don't judge them. Feelings just are. They're not logical or right or wrong.
• Express yourself honestly with everyone. Say what you think and what you feel. Ask for what you need.
• Reach out for help when you feel bad. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you're self-sufficient and can manage alone. That's a symptom of codependency, too.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I bought this book shortly after it came out on the recommendati

    I bought this book shortly after it came out on the recommendation of a friend. For me it has been the best book I have read on codependency to date. I love the format, and the wealth of information on the subject. I feel the author went above and beyond just describing what codependency is, to giving the reader sound tools to overcome the debilitating effects codependency can have on a person's life. I honestly felt pretty desperate before reading this book, like I was doomed to a so so existence. Reading this and using the different tools has helped me so much. I now feel that by continuing to work the ideas, plans and suggestions in this book, I can really turn my life around. I have already seen an improvement. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is mired in a codependent lifestyle and is desperate to get their wings and learn what it means to live authentically.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    I purchased this book about one month ago, fell in love with it

    I purchased this book about one month ago, fell in love with it and ended up reading it in about two weeks! Having read nearly every book written on codependcy, I decided to look in the hundreds of books written for 'dummies' which I swore I would never buy because of what I preceive to be a negative connotation in the title.
    And I am SO HAPPY that I did. It is the only book that I've purchased that I actually did the excericises in. For those who have read everything, have gone to every meeting and every therapist who says they understand codependency (and don't), this book is the right choice for you and will probably be the only book you need. I have been battling codependency for decades and I find comfort listening to Darlene's voice, written in her words of insightful instruction. She really speaks to the codependent and provides good and useful tools for recovery. Good luck in your journey.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    I see myself in this book 100 percent - years of therapy, bad re

    I see myself in this book 100 percent - years of therapy, bad relationships! With your book I will be able to break my pattern. It will take work, but I am going to get there. I wonder how many peoples’ lives you have saved!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    I love this book!

    I feel this should be mandatory reading for every teenage girl before she begins to make the same mistakes many of us have in our lives.

    This easy to read guide is perfect for the person who might already be involved in an unhealthy relationship and will serve as a guide to those who might be tempted to engage in one at sometime. It could save a lot of future pain.

    I highly recommend this book!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 11, 2012

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