We often hear the words, “abandonment issues” however, I suspect that many of us don’t have a clue what that means or what that entails.
So, let me begin by explaining what the symptoms of having abandonment issues are.
Typically symptoms of abandonment include:
Fear of / reluctance to initiate plans with other people
You attach to people to quickly or too soon
You easily find flaws in potential mates
You may frequently find yourself sabotaging your relationships or success
You expect perfection (from yourself or others)
You over react to feedback and view many things as an attack
You have a tendency to people please
And you struggle to make or create a commitment
That’s a pretty thorough list because my aim is to show how inclusive this issue really is.
I suspect that the majority of us have varying degrees of abandonment. The difference for many of us is how they manifest themselves. I have friends who have sworn off relationships (because the fear of getting hurt is too bad). I have friends who just can’t get it together professionally (because the fear of being successful is HUGE), and the list goes on.
There is a whole continuum out there of attachment issues and what those look like.
There are so many factors that can lead to someone having abandonment issues.
This is not an all-inclusive list but I want to provide you with some understanding of how abandonment issues begin:
Early childhood trauma
Problematic family upbringing
Dysfunctional family of origin
Emotionally unavailable guardians
Narcissistic caretakers, birth trauma
Exposure to physical or mental illness
History of low self esteem
Any level of abuse or neglect
It’s crucial to keep in mind that abandonment issues are simply a maladaptive coping skill, born out of a desire and need to protect yourself and keep yourself safe.
Safety is typically our highest priority, so in order to keep ourselves safe, some of us have put barriers in the way of creating deep attachment. I’m all for safety, but I would love to be able to empower you to create a sense of safety while having healthy and fulfilling relationships, as well as successful careers.
1. Get Clear On The Origin: As painful as this may be, and as much as it sucks, in this case it’s important to have the knowledge of where this started and why.
I’m not typically a fan of digging up all of your history and examining it for the sake of saying we did. But in this case, it makes healing abandonment issues just that much more challenging if you don’t know who or how it appeared in your life.
Spend some time figuring out how it came to be and why. NOT in a critical or judgmental fashion, but simply just from the ability to notice and allow healing to begin. All that is necessary to begin this healing is to acknowledge your past hurts
2. Validate Your Own Feelings and Emotions: This is such a crucial missing piece in our world today.
So many of us are looking to people outside of ourselves for validation that our feelings, emotions, or experiences were accurate. This is a huge mistake. We are better served to recognize that our feelings are valid because they are ours, however that doesn’t guarantee that they are accurate.
I’m going to share a radically unpopular opinion: I don’t believe that negative feelings exist. I think all feelings are worthy of being felt and experienced. I’m not encouraging you to take up permanent residence in rage, but I think if you are feeling frustrated or angry it’s worthy of being felt.
3. Create a Positive Support System: I think the biggest mistakes many of us make is that we attempt to battle the world on our own. And I’m pretty sure we weren’t designed or created to do this deal on our own.
Every living and breathing being is worthy of having positive social support. And interesting tidbit, is that many of my clients have found that while focusing on building a social support system, their anxiety has actually reduced. Take a few moments and look around you: who constantly lifts you up, who consistently supports you, who is in your corner.
4. Acknowledge Your Strengths: I mean this one very seriously!
You have so many strengths simply because you are still alive and breathing. We typically grossly underestimate the good stuff about ourselves. We’ve become a society that embraces the myth that talking wonderfully about ourselves is arrogant and self centered. Live a little! Sing your praises from the rooftop!
5. You Have the Power: I’m going to be perfectly honest with you for a moment. Yes, what you experienced massively sucked. It was likely even harmful and messed up. But I don’t want you to take up permanent residence in that pain and trauma. I want you to move past it. Once of the best things I typically do is to look at the awful experiences of my past and recognize the good stuff that has developed as a result of it. Some of the good stuff for me is: compassion, empathy, and love.
6. Challenge the Negative Committee: Many of us have this committee of voices inside of our heads that are armed and prepared to tear us apart at any given opportunity.
Not only is that not helpful it’s not even healthy. The next time your committee begins engaging in whatever negative diatribe it likes to create, I want you to do two things: the first thing is I want you to change the voice to one of your favorite cartoon characters. The second thing I want you to do is INSTANTLY reinforced the opposite. I know you have what it takes to heal from this deep wound.
I hope you find this information helpful.
I’d love to hear what you are personally doing to overcome these abandonment issues. Even if you don’t feel worthy of overcoming them right here and right now, I’d still love to hear where you are at.
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