It may surprise you to know, codependency isn’t something that’s reserved for romantic couples. It’s surprising how often it shows up in our business relationships too. Whether you’re working with your own clients or working with a coach, it’s something you need to be aware of and deal with, early on in the relationship. 

But you can only be aware of it if you know what to look for! There are certain habits and traits that lend themselves to codependency and it’s only when you address those, that you can truly overcome any codependent behaviour you may be having or experiencing. So here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do, to stay dependent of others and avoid falling into the codependency trap.

Be clear on your boundaries

It’s essential that you set clear boundaries in business. Not only does this help you keep to your job specifications, it enables you to set clear guidelines for those people you come into contact with. Clear boundaries help you set your own ‘rules of business’ – from the hours you work through to preferred methods of communication. It also ensures you’re avoiding getting over-familiar with others and maintaining high levels of professionalism in every situation.

Work on your own self-esteem

Codependency is something that goes hand in hand with low self-esteem. The lower your self-esteem, the more you’ll want to people please, look for reassurance and find yourself reacting to other people’s actions and feelings. This can all lead to a need for perfectionism and/or a desire to drop things without giving yourself a fair go at achieving them. It’s therefore crucial, that you work on improving your self-esteem. You will then learn to trust your own intuition and make decisions based on what you believe is best for you.

Look after your mental and physical health

It’s crucial that you learn to look after your mental and physical health. This includes learning to get a handle on your own feelings and emotions. When you improve your self-esteem you’ll find yourself reacting less to others. But you also need to listen to what those emotions and feelings are telling you. Know what you need to implement into your daily routines, to ensure you’re getting adequate downtime, sleep and exercise. If you’re not being clear on your own boundaries or looking for the approval of others all the time, you run the risk of overworking yourself and causing burning out.  [If you’re not sure what self-employment burnout looks like, take a read of this article on Medium.]

Remember you are the CEO of your own business

You didn’t start your own business in order to have someone else tell you what to do. Yes, you can get opinions and advice from others – if they’re in the right position to do so. This includes mentors, coaches and consultants. But that doesn’t mean you need them to make every decision in your business. 

Over the years, I have had some clients who won’t even go to the loo without asking for permission! This makes it hard for me to do my job as a VA Coach, Trainer and Mentor.Remember, you started a business so you could run it in a way that suits you – so take that responsibility and make decisions based on what you want. You have to take ownership of this. 

When working with clients, this can manifest in the wanting you to take ownership of their business, so subtle reminders that delegation does not abdicate them of their responsibilities…

Know when it’s time to leave

Codependency can make you want to stick around far too long.

How does this look? Well, you’ll find yourself wanting to help other people get to a stage where you feel they no longer need ‘fixing’.

You may also find yourself wanting to help them because of how it makes you feel – not because it’s the best thing for your clients. This can often lead you to help others to the detriment of your own health, being too bossy and getting really frustrated when they’re not doing what you expect them to do. 

Codependency is something that can affect all business owners, regardless of whether you’re working with a coach or working with your clients. By reading the advice above you’ll know what behaviours and traits to look out for, so you can address them early and avoid falling into that codependent trap. 

If you’re looking for some help boosting your confidence in your VA business, check out this blog post.  For advice on setting boundaries, take a read of this blog post. Here’s how you can practice self-care as a Virtual Assistant, and finally, this one will help you decide if you’re taking your VA business seriously.