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January 24, 2024

20 Exercises to Overcome Codependency at Your Own Pace

Kristie Plantinga
woman of color sits at a table journaling with headphones on; overcoming codependency exercises
January 24, 2024
5 min to read
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Transitioning to a codependency-free life is no joke.

Being codependent is how you've showed up in the world for most of your life, but that doesn't mean you can't break the cycle and lead a life that's codependency-free (or reduced!).

Change doesn't happen over night, but codependency exercises are a great start. In this article, we lay out 20 empowering exercises, by difficulty, to guide you through overcoming codependency. 

Try these exercises at home or with others today!

Individual Exercises


Self-Reflection Journaling

Spend 10 minutes every day reflecting on your emotions, needs, and boundaries. Journaling helps increase self-awareness and identify patterns of codependent behavior.

Mindfulness Meditation

Practice a short mindfulness meditation to stay present with your emotions. Focusing on your breath can help you detach from codependent thoughts and foster a sense of inner peace.

Gratitude Journaling

Take a few minutes each day to write down three things you're grateful for. This practice shifts your focus toward positive aspects of life, which promotes emotional well-being.

Daily Affection to Self

Set a reminder to give yourself a small gesture of affection daily, such as a self-hug or positive self-talk. Building self-compassion and putting yourself first is crucial to overcoming codependency.


Setting Personal Boundaries

Identify one boundary that you'd like to establish, communicate it assertively, and stick to it. This exercise builds self-confidence and teaches you to prioritize your needs.

Positive Affirmations

Beyond giving yourself affection, create a list of affirmations that actively challenge negative self-talk. Repeat these affirmations daily to cultivate a positive self-image and reduce codependent tendencies. Try out a few of our people pleasing affirmations to get started!

Values Clarification Exercise

List your core values and reflect on whether your actions align with them. This exercise helps you prioritize what truly matters to you (not others) and guides aligned decision-making.

Mindful Decision-Making

Before making decisions, pause to mindfully assess your motivations. Consider whether your choices align with personal growth rather than seeking external validation.


Behavioral Change Challenge

Choose one codependent behavior you'd like to change. Create a plan to replace that behavior with a healthier alternative and stick to it, especially when it's difficult. Consistently practicing this new behavior will help uproot long-held patterns, and once you know that you can do it, you'll feel more confident when changing other codependent behaviors!

Fear-Facing Challenge

Identify a fear related to codependency and take a small step to face it, like saying no to friends when you don't feel like going out. Gradual exposure to fears builds resilience and empowers you to break free from the unhealthy habits of codependency.

Constructive Self-Critique

Practice constructive self-critique by acknowledging mistakes without heaping excessive guilt on yourself. This exercise fosters self-improvement without triggering the exorbitant self-blame that's common amongst codependents.

Seeking Professional Help

Consider therapy or counseling to explore deeper issues contributing to codependency. A professional can provide guidance and support tailored to your specific situation. Find a vetted therapist on our platform.

Exercises Involving Others


Expressing Feelings Practice

Share a small emotion or need with a friend or family member. Practice open communication to build trust, feel what it's like to express your needs, and reduce reliance on others for emotional validation.

Joint Goal-Setting

Collaborate on a simple goal with someone while focusing on mutual interests. This exercise fosters teamwork and encourages interdependence while respecting individual boundaries.

Random Acts of Kindness Together

Engage in simple acts of kindness with a friend or family member, like cooking a meal together for a friend who's sick. Collaborative kindness fosters connection and creates shared positive experiences.

Shared Hobby Exploration

Discover a new hobby together. This encourages shared interests, instead of interests that you tolerate and the other person enjoys.


Active Listening Sessions

Engage in active listening with a partner. Take turns expressing thoughts and feelings, ensuring each person feels heard and valued. This promotes healthy communication.

Establishing Mutual Boundaries

Discuss and set boundaries together. This exercise encourages mutual respect and understanding, fostering healthier connections.

Empathy Building Exercise

Share personal experiences with each other, focusing on developing empathy. Understanding each other's perspectives strengthens emotional bonds.

Conflict Resolution Simulation

Role-play a potential conflict scenario and practice resolving it without being codependent. This helps build effective communication skills and reduces anxiety around conflict.


Group Activity Participation

Join a group or club with shared interests. This challenges codependent tendencies by diversifying your social connections and fostering independence.

Conflict Resolution Practice

Practice resolving actual conflicts assertively and respectfully with someone you trust. Healthily resolving conflict helps break your tendency to avoid conflict and builds stronger interpersonal skills.

Mutual Support Challenge

Collaborate on supporting yours and a friend's (or family member's) personal goals. Since you focus on both people's goals, this exercise reinforces independence while fostering a supportive and healthy dynamic.

Group Therapy or Support Groups

Attend group therapy or support groups together. Sharing experiences in a group setting promotes empathy and offers additional perspectives on overcoming codependency.

Remember, the key to overcoming codependency is consistent practice and self-reflection. Adjust the difficulty of exercises based on your comfort level and gradually progress as you grow.

Work with a therapist to learn how to overcome codependency.

Our vetted therapists can give you the support you need as you navigate codependency.

Find a therapist today!

Need more answers?

Frequently asked questions

Where does codependency stem from?

Codependency in a person often stems from trauma, adverse life experiences, or emotionally demanding situations that lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. It can also be influenced by childhood relationships, where unmet needs can lead to insecure attachment and codependent behaviors.

How do you overcome codependency?

Codependency can be overcome by building self-esteem, establishing healthy boundaries, and practicing self-care. Seeking professional help and therapy can also be beneficial, as it can provide tools for introspection and assertive communication.

When should someone be concerned about codependency?

Concern about codependency should arise when a person consistently prioritizes others’ needs above their own, exhibits controlling behaviors, self-sacrifice, and fear of rejection. Other signs include difficulty recognizing and expressing emotions, a deep-seated need for approval from others, and maintaining relationships even when they cause harm.

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Written by
Kristie Plantinga

Kristie Plantinga is the founder of Best Therapists. Along with being on the client-side of therapy, Kristie has had the honor of working directly with therapists in her marketing agency for therapists, TherapieSEO. While working alongside therapists, she learned about the inequities in our mental health system that therapists face on a daily basis, and she wanted to do something about it. That’s why Best Therapists is a platform designed to benefit not only therapy-seekers, but therapy providers. Kristie has a Masters degree in Written Communication and a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Music.

Reviewed by
Katelyn McMahon
Registered Psychotherapist, VT #097.0134200

Katelyn is a therapist-turned-writer with a passion for mental health. She has a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of England and is a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of Vermont. Katelyn has professional experience in aging care, addiction treatment, integrated health care, and private practice settings. She also has lived experience being on the client side of therapy. Currently, Katelyn is a content writer who’s passionate about spreading mental health awareness and helping other therapists and therapy-seekers Do The Work.

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