Fear of abandonment.
It’s primal, and most of us experience it.
Did you know, though, that it often causes us to abandon ourselves??
In our effort to maintain a sense of safety, we abandon ourselves to keep others around. This usually looks like hiding things we think they won’t like, or pretending we like things that they do. It can also show up as self-criticism or emotional suppression.
It frequently involves saying Yes when we’re a no, or saying No when we’re a yes. With these seemingly innocent lies, we violate our own boundaries.
Where does self-abandonment come from?
To be fair to ourselves, we developed this behavior as a way to feel safe when we were young. When our caregivers couldn’t self-regulate, we had to manage their emotions in order to secure our safety.
Unfortunately, when our fear of abandonment leads to self-abandonment, it actually causes further anxiety and then further self-abandonment, pulling us into a vicious cycle that plays out well into adulthood.
Heal your fear of abandonment
In order to break this cycle, we need to develop an internally rooted security, founded in unconditional self-love and self-approval.
Self-approval is essentially the opposite of self-abandonment. It’s where we decide that acting in alignment with our approval is more important than avoiding other people’s disapproval.
It is SCARY! I know. And when we walk the hot coals of risking rejection from the misaligned, we find two huge gems:
- We learn what it feels like to have our own love stay with us.
- We discover the aligned people and things that were blocked by our mask of approval-seeking inauthenticity.
When we find our way back to ourselves and our own love – accepting all of our perfectly human imperfections – and we hold ourselves with tender love and compassion, we grow the courage to risk the pain of rejection in exchange for the nourishment of true acceptance and belonging.
Proceed with grace
Discovering that you’ve been abandoning yourself can come with a stroke of grief, and possibly even shame. I encourage you to forgive yourself, and then promise yourself that you will strengthen your self-love and approval, that YOU will choose yourself, and that you will practice and stop abandoning yourself.
In your process, you will find it deeply beneficial to draw on your parental instincts and commit to protecting your inner child – at any cost – and to defending their worth against all challenges (both foreign and domestic), as well as their right to be exactly what they are, in all their unique brilliance.