How and Why We Self-Abandon

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Self-abandonment is the unhealthy tendency to avoid dealing with uncomfortable or painful feelings.

Self-abandonment behaviors include:

  • Addictions

  • Blaming others for your feelings

  • Breaking promises to yourself

  • Continuing in relationships that are wrong for you

  • Ignoring and not tending to your emotions

  • Making choices out of fear

  • Negative self-talk (I am unlovable, I am ugly, I am alone and will always be alone, no one will ever love me)

Most people don’t consider how they routinely abandon themselves because the behavior is an ingrained habit. If you are highly critical of yourself, engage in self-sabotaging behaviors, or make other people responsible for your emotions, chances are you will struggle with feelings of loneliness. Still, you will never feel fulfilled until you learn how to love and value yourself and take responsibility for your own feelings first. Ultimately, no matter how much someone else loves you, as long as you continue to abandon yourself, you will continue to feel lonely, insecure, and inadequate.

Here are a few behaviors that you may have exhibited to fill that void only to feel even lonelier:

  • You bend your boundaries. In order to fill the void, you bend your boundaries to do anything you believe will bring closeness in your life. You do things for others that you may not necessarily want to do, like become more agreeable, suddenly become not so busy and spend time with someone you may not actually want to be around, or give something you didn’t want to give. Yet, you do these things with the hope that they bring you some form of closeness through acknowledgment, appreciation, commitment, time, or attention. Despite bending your boundaries to experience the connection, you are left with the experience of disappointment, hurt, sadness, and even more loneliness. In order to rid yourself of the void, your boundaries are bent again to obtain some sort of closeness and clear away the lonely. Maybe this time, you tell yourself, “they won’t do it again,” so you easily forgive, or this happens with a different person.

  • You avoid taking time to be alone. You decide to stay busy, taking on so many tasks that you feel utterly too drained to spend time with your inner world. I mean who has time to really get to know their emotions, right? There are times that you’ve gone to places where you may not really want to be, taken on tasks knowing that your plate is too full, but it beats being in a space by yourself, in a space that reminds you that there is emptiness, a longing for something that you cannot describe. You avoid this space because it requires that you feel the emotions and let them do their job; send internalized messages about how you’re experiencing the world. This experience is heavy, it hurts, and it’s confusing, so it’s avoided at all cost. You’re willing to accept the mental and physical drain of taking on too much. You’re also willing to be in places you don’t want to be in, and you’re willing to spend time with people you may not really care for, all done to steer clear of spending alone time with your emotions. This pattern heightens internal disconnection from your physical self and your emotional self.

To abandon means to leave somebody or something behind for others to look after especially somebody or something meant to be a personal responsibility. This feeling is usually created during childhood.

As an adult though, another person cannot abandon you since they are not responsible for you. Only you can abandon you.

What are the ways you might be abandoning yourself?

1. Judging Yourself

How often do you judge yourself with comments such as:

  • “It’s all your fault that... “

  • “You're a failure.”

  • “You're an idiot.”

  • “You're not reaching your potential.”

  • “You will never amount to anything.”

  • “You’re inadequate.”

  • “You’re not attractive enough.”

  • “You’re not good enough.”

  • “You’re stupid.”

  • “You’re ugly.”

... and so on, and so on, and so on.

Just as a small child feels alone and abandoned when a parent is harsh and judgmental, so does our own inner child when we judge ourselves. Self-judgment not only creates inner feelings of loneliness and emptiness, but it also creates feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, hurt, fear, guilt and shame. What do you do when you have judged yourself and created all these painful feelings?

Ignoring Your Feelings

When you feel lonely, empty, anxious, depressed, hurt, angry, jealous, sad, fearful, guilty or shamed, what do you do? Do you tend to your feelings, exploring what they are telling you? Or, do you avoid them with some form of addictive behavior: food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, TV, work, shopping, social media, sex, anger, blame, etc. to avoid processing through them?

When you ignore your feelings and instead turn to addictive behavior, you are just abandoning yourself again. Once you have abandoned yourself, it is very common to project this self-abandonment onto others. Yet, as a happy, healthy, functional adult, the feeling of abandonment is being caused by you, just as most of your other painful feelings are being caused by you.

Making Others Responsible for You

Once you judge yourself and then ignore the pain you have caused, it is quite likely that you turn to others for the love and approval that you are not giving to yourself. Your inner child needs love, approval, and attention. When you abandon yourself with self-judgment and ignore your feelings, the wounded child part of you turns to others for the love you need.

The more you make others responsible for giving you the love, attention, and approval you need, the more your inner child feels abandoned, leading to more addictive behavior to fill the emptiness and avoid the pain of your self-abandonment.

The way out of this is to start paying attention to your feelings, focusing your attention inward instead of always focusing on the external world around us. The moment you feel badly, notice what you are thinking or doing that is causing your pain. The painful feelings that come from your thoughts are your inner guidance system’s way of letting you know that what you are thinking is not true, that it is not in your highest good.

Ask the highest part of yourself, “What is the truth?” Notice how you feel when you tend to your feelings and tell yourself the truth, rather than judge yourself, ignore yourself, and make others responsible for your feelings.

Many of us were either emotionally abandoned by our parents, our parents modeled emotional self-abandonment themselves, or we actually were abandoned by our parents.

Healing Abandonment Issues

Abandonment issues get healed when you stop abandoning yourself and instead learn to love and value yourself. No matter how much someone else loves you, as long as you continue to abandon yourself, you will continue to feel insecure, inadequate, and unlovable.

Others’ love feels wonderful, but it needs to be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Your love for yourself needs to be the foundation from which you are then able to share love with others, rather than always trying to get love to feel safe and secure.

You can learn to love yourself, and this will make all the difference!

In a self-abandoner’s mind, the belief that their needs and desires either cannot be met or should not be met is a strong one. This belief leads to a continuous process of detachment, as the self-abandoner repeatedly makes decisions to ignore, repress, or condemn their own personal needs. Over time, they might even forget or lose the ability to identify their own needs.

This is a tough pattern that can lead in many negative directions. It can take us so far away from who we are that we find ourselves in a pattern of people-pleasing, settling or neglecting ourselves. Before long, our personal identities might even feel hazy. So, how can we move out of this pattern?

At its core, self-abandonment typically arises from a lack of self-trust. So, the fundamental solution to self-abandonment is self-trust and making a commitment to yourself. Anything that involves self-care, self-exploration, or asserting yourself is a step in the right direction.

Here are two questions you can apply to any situation to determine if you are operating from self-abandonment:

Why am I making this decision? If the answer involves guilt, shame, fear, timidity, or generally negative emotions, you might be in abandonment mode.

If I were the only person on earth, would I still want to do ___? This removes other people’s influence from your decision-making and frees you up to determine how you actually feel.

The healthy response to dealing with uncomfortable or painful feelings is to feel them. Right here and now in this moment. The way to truly be empowered in your life is to learn how to deal with any emotional discomfort that arises by actually being present with it and letting the energy of the feeling run its course. It actually moves through pretty quickly, once you move into a place of acceptance and allowing.

When you’re having strong feelings about something, see if you can define what it is you’re reacting to.

This is because sometimes when there’s a lot going on or there are old feelings weighing us down, it’s hard to know why we feel bad.

How to stop self-abandoning and start loving, honoring, and trusting yourself:

  1. Take time to reflect and write with compassion and curiosity on why you abandon yourself. When did it start? Why do you continue to do it and with who? What are you afraid of losing or not getting? Approval, safety, money, love, security?

  2. Is there anything you are giving your time, money, or energy to that you know you need to let go of—a job, relationship, belief, pattern/behavior, etc.? What do you need to start doing or giving your attention to?

  3. Carve out time to do you something for yourself each and every day—physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially.

  4. Each morning and before bed, grab a notebook and write how you physically feel in your body, emotions, thoughts, desires, etc.

The opposite of self-abandonment is acceptance and allowing, so practice processing through your emotions and continue to love self. Happy healing, Queen!

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