Healthy Communication in Recovery from Codependency

How I communicate with other people is vital to my recovery from co-dependency. Although I'm sure I have many other poor communication habits, I've had to work diligently to stop:

  • overreacting (taking a message too seriously, too personally, etc.)
  • making assumptions (failing to clarify the other person's true intentions)
  • projecting (expecting that another person holds my exact views on an issue)
  • mind-reading (instead of talking openly and forthrightly)
  • biased listening (rather than genuinely hearing the other person's heartfelt message)
  • chattering nervously (when it would be better to remain silent)
  • arguing (rather than focusing on areas where agreement is possible)
  • generalizing (rather than getting the specific details of a whole story)

Healthy relationships require healthy communication. One of the major reasons for my failed marriage was poor communication. I assumed too much, refused to listen, and argued far past the point of reason. Yet I believed (erroneously as it turned out) that I was communicating.

What I actually did was to shut down all communication. Because my mind was made up, I made true communication impossible.

Recovery has taught me to be open-minded, accepting, patient, and forthright in my verbal communication. Most importantly, recovery has given me the right to be wrong, to admit the fact when I am wrong. No part of my life is perfect, including my communication. Rather than egotistically assuming I'm always right, now I leave myself room for doubt. I give the other person the benefit of the doubt too. I understand that the other person may also be struggling to achieve clean, healthy communication.

As a writer, I know the limitations of words. Combine words with emotions, and you have all kinds of possibilities for misunderstanding. Good communication is hard work. Maybe the hardest work of all.

For me, real communication occurs when I'm big enough to temporarily set aside the need to express my ego, my agenda, my beliefs, my intelligence, and give the other person the time and opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams in an uninterrupted, accepting way. When I permit myself to listen, unbiased, to the words coming from the other person's heart, I create in them willingness to do the same for me when it comes to my turn to talk.

I can disagree with the other person. They can disagree with me. That is OK. But each of us has the right to express our thoughts and feelings in a fair exchange. We allow and even value each other's differences. That makes for interesting conversation and leaves room for growth on both sides. We understand that beliefs, ideas, opinions, facts, and feelings are separate and apart from the other person's worth as a human being. Communication is a tool for self-expression, not a tool for demeaning other people or taking their words, twisting them, and using them against the person in a verbal battle.

Communication opens the door for me to learn who I am by listening to who you are. Healthy communication is understanding that we all have enough in common, as fellow human beings, to learn something valuable from each other.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 20). Healthy Communication in Recovery from Codependency, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: June 7, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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