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Codependency: Communicating Better

What is codependency?

If you love someone that is struggling with addiction and/or mental health, you might find yourself overly concerned about their well-being. You might meddle in their affairs, obsess about what they are doing. You might ask a lot of personal questions, the types of questions that are really none of your business. Then, when the answers aren't acceptable in your mind you nag, yell, or criticize your loved one.

You don't do this on purpose, of course. You do this because you genuinely love and care for your person. You want to see them succeed and have a good, happy life.

Codependency arises when we start to take responsibility for someone else's life. It can overtake your thoughts and actions. You might worry all hours of the day about your loved one. Where is she? What is he doing? Did he show up for work? Did she eat dinner? You might even be losing sleep over your concern. Changing these behaviors takes time. If I'm going to be honest, a long time. And it requires a great amount of patience.

A great place to start is by hearing the way we speak to the ones we love and challenging ourselves, not our loved ones to make a change.


A quick win in communicating our frustrations better is by changing our statements from "You" to "I". When we do this, we keep it positive and the approach is more collaborative than critical. Here are some examples:

Notice in the "YOU" column that that each statement starts with "You" or a version of "You". Before you react, take a pause, start you sentence with "I" and see where it takes you. Remember to practice the pause - give yourself a pause before reacting with any type of strong emotion - anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, etc. When you have composed yourself, start with "I". Keep it positive and supportive.

As codependents, we can't change our loved ones. That is their work. However, we can change how we communicate and behave in response to the situation. We can show support and love with our words and actions.

Try this change for a week and see what kind of difference it makes, then let me know. Email me at or comment below.

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