This is a continuation of the last episode where we talked about healing abandonment issues, and how our experiences of loss, physical departures and emotional disconnections in our lives create psychological pain and can leave residues in our subconscious mind.
Essentially, if the people that were meant to protect us when we were younger, abandoned us this left an imprint in our subconscious mind that we’re not wanted, good enough or worthy.
And if this is something that happened repetitively, then what happens was that this created wounds in our ego, which I like to refer to as our inner child.
To make sure that we’re on the same page, our inner child is an echo of the child that we once were. It encompasses all of the positive and negative memories stored in a part of our brain called the hippocampus and all of our emotional network and patterns are stored in our amygdala.
Some people call it the ego and some like to refer to it as the inner child, because a lot of the time, the way that we respond to people and events is through the lens of our inner child. For example, if someone criticises us, we might be triggered because we feel rejected by that person. Or, if someone doesn’t speak to us for a few days we might feel abandoned.
And if we find ourselves experiencing intense emotions like anger, sadness or depression, it’s often because those past experiences of feeling rejected or abandoned are being displaced into the present moment.
So, if our reaction outweighs the event itself, you can guarantee that it’s your wounded inner child acting out.
Now what’s really interesting is that as children we didn’t have the tools, infrastructure or language to label, process and manage our emotions and feelings.
So to protect ourselves from getting hurt, we developed defence mechanisms to keep us safe. Because when we were children, our safety and survival was reliant on our parents. We couldn’t feed ourselves, so if our parents abandoned us it would mean that we would die.
But because we didn’t have the tools to manage these emotions, we learned to hide our feelings because they were too intense and too painful to handle.
But the very defence mechanisms that made sure that we survived and stayed safe as children are now holding us back as adults.
Now, what I love about this approach to talking about abandonment is that it allows us to take our power back.
When we see that we’re playing an active role in feeling abandoned, we can take ownership over our lives.
We’re no longer a helpless or powerless child relying on others for survival.
We’re powerful adults who can give ourselves everything we need.
And when we realise the inherent power that we have within, we’re no longer a victim to someone else abandoning us.
Because when we stop self-abandoning ourselves, other people can’t abandon us.
It’s only with our permission can other people abandon us.
When we speak into the ways that we self-abandon ourselves, we get to take our power back.
We can change our story, take ownership of our lives and break the ties and generational curses that cause us to suffer.
So with that, let’s talk about the patterns we’ve developed as adults that make us self-abandon ourselves. There are 10 major ways that we abandon ourselves and this causes anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, aloneness, emptiness and painful emotional and behavioural problems.
One of the ways that we abandon ourselves is through people pleasing.
When we are pleasing others to an extreme where we are overextending ourselves, we are neglecting ourselves.
When we emotionally over-invest in someone to avoid being rejected or abandoned, we are neglecting our own garden as we’re spending so much of our time tilling other people’s soil.
And if we look at the root of people pleasing, even though it seems generous and kind, it comes from a place of trying to control others.
Because we think that if we can get others to love us and approve of us, then we’ll be happy.
If we can make others see us and hear us, then we’ll feel wanted.
But nobody can make us happy more than ourselves.
Which is why listening to our needs, our wants and our desires is an important process in feeling worthy and whole.
It’s about asking ourselves the questions: am I ready to take off this people pleasing mask? Am I ready to give myself the love and validation I keep giving to everyone else?
Staying in our head
Another way we abandon ourselves is by staying in our head to disconnect from our feelings and if they’re big feelings like feeling overwhelmingly lonely or grief over losing a loved one, or heartbroken that someone has left us, often we ignore, avoid and suppress from the feelings.
When we were younger, if feelings were too intense and painful, we’d bury the feelings because we didn’t know how to deal with them.
But the problem with this is that because we are ignoring our feelings, we are abandoning ourselves and this fuels more feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness and isolation.
This perpetuates a cycle of shame and we feel like a prisoner in our own heads. This is how we abandon our inner child, we either ignore and numb our feelings, or we project these feelings onto others.
That’s like if a friend came over to you who was upset and you weren’t paying any attention, that friend feels rejected and abandoned and that’s how we neglect ourselves. So if we think of our feelings like our inner child it anchors us to take responsibility for our feelings.
But when we stay in our head we’re ignoring and suppressing our feelings and this pattern of behaviour accumulates into this nagging feeling of aloneness and loneliness. And we perpetuate our childhood trauma of abandonment by abandoning ourselves and we think that we need to get this from others but we’re the ones who are abandoning ourselves. We need to meet our own emotional needs by listening to our inner child and taking responsibility for our feelings.
We judge ourselves
Another way that we abandon ourselves is that we judge ourselves. Most of us were judged and criticised growing up or we watched our parents criticise themselves, so we integrate that into our psyche and this becomes our inner dialogue.
And again, that’s like saying to a child “what’s wrong with you”, “why are you thinking like that?” “something is wrong with you”, this is traumatic for a child because it creates anxiety, depression and shame.
And what’s sad about this is that this is something that we’re perpetuating. We’re adding fuel to the fire by continually judging ourselves. We think that these feelings come outside of us but they come from our own judgement.
So it’s about saying to ourselves it’s ok to feel. It’s ok to feel hurt. It’s ok to feel pain. I am human. If I’m going through heartbreak, I give myself permission to feel emotional hurt and pain over these next few days. As long as I know that I will shift through the pain and move forward it’s ok for me to feel it.
Which is why I love the mantra: feel it to heal it.
So give yourself that container where you can be emotional. Maybe you say to yourself, perhaps this next week or 10 days I’m going to feel emotional, I’m going to have moments where I cry, I’m going to have moments when I purge my feelings by writing therapeutic letters. I’m going to have days when I focus on healing my body by having reiki sessions or self love baths. Make sure you give yourself that container.
We numb our feelings
A fourth way is that we numb our feelings with addictions. If we encounter emotional pain in our life then we will numb our feelings with substances, such as food, alcohol and drugs to distract ourselves.
Or we will numb the pain with people and activities, such as codependent relationships, seeking approval from others or using our sexuality to get love from others.
So you have to ask yourself the questions: Am I ready to listen to my feelings? Am I ready to give myself empathy and compassion?
And so once I am ok with me and I’m able to validate my own thoughts, feelings, needs and desires and I approve of me, it won’t be so disruptive when someone else doesn’t approve of me.
Otherwise, if I haven’t validated and acknowledged myself then I am walking around with a fragile sense of who I am and if anyone ignores me for a few days or rejects me, then my sense of self becomes easily dismantled by somebody else. Because their response or their reaction is the only thing that validates me.
So I encourage you that before you present your thoughts, feelings, needs and desires to the world, that you speak them to yourself and you validate and appreciate the feelings of your inner child.
When you validate the feelings of your inner child and give yourself the empathy and love that you yearn for, you are not wondering around looking for external validation, but you can love yourself, you can think for yourself, and you can take loving action to self-soothe yourself.
We seek out unavailable partners
Another way we self abandon ourselves is by attracting or seeking our emotionally unavailable partners.
If we were abandoned as a child then this left painful residues in our minds and we believed that we’re not good enough or worthy, and because we have this unworthiness wound we seek out people to prove our worth to them.
What happens is that we perpetuate our experiences of childhood trauma of abandonment by abandoning ourselves, overinvesting in others, having unrealistic expectations, forgetting about the intention that we had with a connection and getting disappointed and hurt by others.
We attract partners who are cold and distant with us, who are withdrawing from us and we start to feel upset and disappointed that they’re not showing up for us.
So we go down this downward spiral and start thinking to ourselves “something is wrong with me”, “I’m broken”, “I’m unworthy”, “who is ever going to love me?” and it perpetuates this cycle of shame and it solidifies our wounds of unworthiness.
When we come from a place of unworthiness, we will interact with the world in such a way where we will seek out people who validate how we feel about ourselves.
Because we feel deficient and broken, we’re seeking out unavailable people in our lives to prove our worth, because we think that if we can prove to an unavailable person that we’re worthy, then we can be worthy to anyone.
But this is flawed thinking. We will never get the approval or validation we need from unavailable people no matter how much we betray ourselves.
They can’t show up for us or give us what we want and we will forever feel rejected, emotionally deprived and abandoned when we focus our energy on unavailable people because we’re abandoning ourselves in the first place.
We make other people responsible
Another way is we make other people responsible and this sabotages our relationships because we’re putting our worth and happiness in other people’s hands.
We’re basically saying that other people have to like us or approve of us for us to be ok and if others judge, criticise or disagree with us our sense of self becomes easily dismantled.
So we try to control others by caretaking or over emotionally investing in others as a way to not be rejected or abandoned. But again, we’re putting our worth into other people’s hands, and we’re betraying ourselves by not taking responsibility for our own self worth.
We don’t honour our needs
Sometimes we can become so hypervigilant and hypersensitive to our environment, thinking about what other people think about us and feel about us that we don’t honour our needs.
And it comes from this desperate energy to feel loved and worthy by others. So we carry this disproportionate energy, where we invest too much of our time and energy into others and it becomes a bottomless pit.
We keep giving and giving, to never get that energy back in return now matter how much we try. Which is why we need to match the energy of other people and learn to stop overgiving because we don’t feel like we’re enough.
No matter how much we try to win people over that we can’t win over, we will always feel empty, lonely and unworthy.
We need to keep our cup full. Go where the kindness is and save our kindness for the people who deserve it.
Instead of looking outside of ourselves to feel wanted and worthy, we need to go inwards.
When we learn to meet our own emotional needs, whether that’s compassion, empathy, support, validation and acceptance, we will foster internal strength, resilience, and because we’re not abandoning ourselves, we won’t feel abandoned by others.
Letting others manipulate us
Another example is that we let others manipulate us.
When we’re kind, good-hearted people we will give people the “benefit of the doubt”. This is partly because we’ve been led to believe in society to “give and take”, and to give people chances, so because of this we can be a sponge to a fault and let others change our belief system.
So it’s important that when we’re in the presence of others that remind ourselves that we’re not a sponge. Even if we feel, sense or know what others are thinking or trying to do, we have to refuse to absorb their thoughts and energy.
Instead, we need to learn to observe what we observe.
We avoid doing the inner work
When we don’t heal the pain of our childhood, our relationships will.
If we have built up anger and resentment and we don’t address the root of it, we hold onto it in our bodies.
Our body is tense and we are living in a state of fight or flight. Our nervous system is heavy and we become hypersensitive about perceived rejection, criticism and the smallest remark or comment someone makes.
But these unresolved wounds remain trapped in our nervous system and subconscious mind. So every time we feel rejected, we overreact, we get filled up with anger or rage by people and other people feel like they’re walking on eggshells around us.
They become hypersensitive to us, because they can pick up on the subconscious emotions and feelings in our bodies, and they feel tense around us.
And if we don’t address our feelings of anger then our anger gets displaced and trickles into conversations with other people.
This is why it’s important to do bodywork, energy healing, hypnotherapy and self work like writing therapeutic letters to release anger trapped in your body.
Recovering from self-abandonment is something that I’m going to be talking more about in the next episode, so I hope you join me in the next episode.
P.S I offer inner child healing and coaching to women who want to heal emotional wounds, so they can shift into love and emotional freedom. If you’d like to work with me privately, fill out this form and I’ll be in touch.