Codependency. It’s a word that has gained popularity in the mental health field and with it comes a lot of confusion about what it means, what it looks like, and how it feels.
Much of what I have learned about the work I do everyday holding space for parents regarding their struggling kids came from my experience working at a residential treatment center (RTC) for adolescent girls. I, myself, am not a parent , but through this job I got the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be around, engage with, set boundaries with, and love teenage girls in a highly intense environment.
I have only recently considered the subtle nuances between acceptance and understanding. Prior to these realizations, I made little distinction between the two. Then, a friend told me his story about when he came out to his father, and I realized that there is a crucial distinction.
“You have to learn to love yourself.”
“Stop caring about what other people think.”
“The only approval you need is from yourself.”
The “3 Circles Exercise” illustrates a communication tool that can be used with any relationship, whether it is between parent and child, partners, friends, or coworkers. It is a template that can aid in clarifying boundaries, mediating conflictual relationships, and managing codependence. In the illustration, there are three different circles, “My Circle,” the “Relationship Circle,” and the “Other’s Circle.” And in each, there are specific responsibilities.