Overcoming self-abandonment issues

What do we even mean by ‘self-abandonment’? There are various forms but, in this post, I am referring to emotional and relational self-abandonment.

Do you struggle to trust yourself? Are you overly critical of yourself? Do you turn to others for the love and healing that you are not giving yourself? Do you value the needs of others over your own and thereby diminish your own feelings?

If this resonates with you, please keep reading. As a life coach, I regularly deal with this issue.

Individuals with self-abandonment issues may suppress their own feelings and goals to please others, be they their family, friends or partner. This leads to further unhappiness, as you are ultimately betraying your own needs. 

You put yourself in other’s shoes and empathise with their situation but do not consider the negative impact this may be having on your own wellbeing and mental health. You may struggle to voice your feelings and opinions. People-pleasers feel like they must always say ‘yes’ to others. Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you are too altruistic? This may seem like a compliment, but this often is to your own detriment, as they are setting aside and disregarding their own priorities and needs. There is also no need to give a long list of excuses when you turn down a request or invitation for whatever reason that may be. Make time for yourself and focus on your own wellbeing.

Have you stopped to think of your relationship with yourself?

Do you set unrealistically high standards for yourself and then put yourself down when you cannot meet them? When we abandon ourselves, we are constantly ignoring our own needs. Often, people who struggle with self-abandonment issues never quite feel worthy. They tell themselves that they’re not good enough, that they’re not ________ enough. Whichever negative adjective you may choose to fill that blank, you are gradually chipping away at your self-esteem and fuelling the self-abandonment.

In a relationship, it is important that you learn how to build your own sense of worth rather than looking to your partner to give you that or to “complete” you.

This emptiness you feel may be due to unresolved past issues or emotions. This may translate into neediness, which can then lead to controlling and manipulative behaviour with a partner, as you struggle with being alone. If someone rejects you, it is somehow your fault and you automatically are to blame for x or y reason. In reality, that may not be the case. Our own well-being is our own responsibility. You determine your own sense of fulfilment and happiness. We cannot look to others for that. Instead, we must grow to be comfortable alone, in our own presence and with our thoughts. As cliché as this will sound, you need to nurture this most important relationship and show yourself some compassion. 

This may become a vicious cycle of denial and blame, which will continue until you deal with the past, otherwise we will always be running away from ourselves. At its fundamental core, self-abandonment stems from the absence of self-trust. 

The first step to making a change is focusing on self-care and exploration.

Ask yourself these two questions when trying to make that positive change:

  1. “Why am I making this decision?”  Do your thoughts involve any negative feelings, such as shame, guilt or fear? If you answer yes, you are mostly likely in self-abandoner mode.
  2. “If I had no one else’s influence on my decision making, would I still want to do ________?”  Removing others’ input in your decision making can determine your true feelings on the matter at hand. 

As a therapist and a life coach, I often suggest that it may help you to keep a journal and write down how you are feeling in that very moment. Moreover, this will also allow you to look back and notice the progress that you have made over time in tackling this negative mindset.

Please remember that there is no quick fix.

Becoming a self-abandoner does not happen overnight and likewise we will not suddenly change after one positive train of thought or experience. However, you will soon create a journey of thoughts and experiences which start giving you the confidence in yourself and it will gradually transform into a more natural behaviour pattern.

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