#195 – Episode 195 – Overcoming Codependency with Michelle Farris


Michelle Farris is a psychotherapist who specializes in helping people with codependency. In this honest conversation, she explains how codependency affected her, its origins in childhood and how we can begin to forge healthy relationships.

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about this episode

When we narrow our focus to staying away from alcohol and substances, we neglect the codependent childhood wounds underneath our addiction that need to be dealt with.

In a codependent relationship, you focus on others at your own expense.

That can look like over-giving, sacrificing yourself constantly to meet others needs, or a myriad of other patterns that start early in childhood and typically stem from getting our needs met growing up.

Michelle Farris is a licensed psychotherapist, anger management specialist and course creator. She loves helping codependent people create healthy relationships without sacrificing their big hearts.

When Michelle got into her own codependency recovery about 25 years ago, she realized that she had spent most of her life looking for “better people” who would make everything okay. That’s when she had her aha moment that it wasn’t anyone else, she was the one that needed to grow and that it was all about what she was doing and not doing in a relationship, not who she was picking.

In this conversation we talk about how to recognize codependent patterns, why they develop, what to do if you recognize these tendencies in yourself and the importance of having support on this journey.

About Michelle Farris

Michelle Farris is a licensed psychotherapist, anger management specialist and course creator. She loves helping codependent people create healthy relationships without sacrificing their big hearts. She’s written several e-books and online courses and including her popular Calming Your Anger Zoom class. She has been featured in several online publications and podcasts. In her private practice she uses recovery principles and practical tools to build self-trust and healthy relationships. She can often be found with a Vente latte from Starbucks while working on her next course! Her private practice Counseling Recovery, is located in San Jose, California.

key highlights

“You complete me.”

For a long time, I thought the solution to my problems was finding “the one” who completed me. That’s what I believed a relationship was about. But in reality, that’s not the romantic notion as it’s made out to be – it’s one of the best explanations of a codependent romantic relationship.

When we don’t know how to value who we are, we look to others for love and validation. We repeat the same needy patterns from childhood and the pain we’re left with is indescribable.

Basing your self-esteem on other people means you’ll tank internally when your relationship isn’t doing well. Sustainable sobriety requires us to have a firm foundation of a strong relationship with ourselves. That’s the work we have to do.


Recognizing the patterns

Not all codependent people have the same style.

When we think about codependency, we typically think of the people pleaser. This person doesn’t set boundaries, avoids conflict at all costs, and becomes a chameleon to fit in with whoever they’re with.

The other style that many people miss is the person who wants to be in control at all times. This person tends to be aggressive, always tells the other person what they should do, and generally can’t let go of the outcome.

Both of these people are coming from the same place.

Most times, codependency is born out of childhood situations with an element of not feeling safe. Whether that’s physical abuse or constant messaging that your needs don’t matter, there are many reasons these patterns are developed in childhood.

For the adult codependent, the other person in the relationship becomes their anchor to safety. Unfortunately, once you pass the honeymoon stage and issues come to the surface, they’re again left in emotional turmoil.


Be prepared to disappoint

From the outside, codependent people look good.

As people pleasers, we’re the helpers. These people get recognition for going above and beyond. They get promotions, they’re stars in their communities, and they get a lot of accolades.

As we move into recovery and learn how to create healthy boundaries, we need to start balancing our giving, doing it in a way where we’re not neglecting or sacrificing ourselves.

The flip side of that is that we have to be willing to give up some of that hero status that we’ve created in our codependency, and it’s a hard pill to swallow. That’s why we can’t do this work in isolation, and we need to have a community to support us.


Recognizing the boundaries of healthy connections

We all need other people – that’s a part of being human. Finding the balance between healthy connection and codependence can be tricky.

One red flag that might signal a leaning into the unhealthy side is compromising your own needs. At the same time, there are many times in life when it’s healthy and appropriate for you to compromise your needs for someone else.

We have to give ourselves the grace of recognizing that it’s going to be a trial and error process of recognizing when you’re choosing to inconvenience yourself for a healthy reason or not.

Learning to tune in to ourselves is key. We need to check in with ourselves about whether we’re overdoing it, which is usually marked by resentment, anxiety, or overwhelm.

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