Emotional Responsibility–Making Relationships Healthy Again

Individual Addiction CounselingEmotional responsibility is a significant key in not only making your relationships healthy again after addiction but in improving your overall quality of life. It allows you to take responsibility for your own feelings and well-being rather than depending on others or substance use to do so. For many new to sobriety, dependency is so familiar that getting the hang of healthy self-care and healthy relationships is baffling at first.

Abandoning Self in Unhealthy Relationships

Most people initially struggle to understand self-abandonment. It almost seems impossible to ‘leave’ yourself. However, that is exactly what we do when we don’t take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Actually, we really need our own love, loyalty, respect, care and protection if we are to be healthy adults. However, the reality is that addiction and codependency each cause us to drop self-responsibility and walk away from ourselves. Our relationships enter into a negative spiral as those conditions do and we can stay in unhealthy relationships for extended periods of time.

Methods of Abandoning the Self

There are many ways that we abdicate emotional responsibility and abandon ourselves. Some of these are:

  • Not acknowledging our needs
  • Suppressing our thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, values and morals
  • Submitting to power and control efforts of others
  • Engaging in harsh self-criticism and self-doubt
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Avoiding self-reflection
  • Blaming others for life problems
  • Taking a victim stance rather than a self-responsible one
  • Allowing others to dictate the structure of our lives
  • Taking care of others’ responsibilities
  • Entering into ‘one-way street’ relationships where our needs are not met
  • Putting aside our goals, dreams, hopes and ambitions
  • Not asserting ourselves
  • Accepting someone else’s authority over our lives
  • Settling for less than optimal situations because we fear being alone
  • Not learning and growing in self-sufficiency
  • Depending on the judgments and decisions of others
  • Manipulating others to met our inappropriate dependency needs
  • Having enablers
  • Surrounding ourselves with people who reinforce our denial
  • Surrounding ourselves with people who normalize our abnormal behavior
  • Staying in toxic relationships
  • Staying in toxic situations
  • Not practicing daily self-care
  • Not tending to mental and physical health needs

Self-Care, Compassion, and Empathy

Emotional responsibility requires that we turn compassion and empathy toward ourselves through self-care. This is often a tall order for people riddled with guilt, shame, poor self-worth and low self-esteem, and to be honest, we’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in early addiction or codependency recovery who does not struggle with these issues. However, regular and steady self-care practice can begin to turn things around. We can reclaim ourselves and repair the damaged, abandoning relationship we have endured throughout addiction or codependency. Gradually we can become emotionally responsible to ourselves. Then we can have healthier relationships with others.