Archive for September, 2010

I’m Insecure, but It’s About Me

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Someone wrote in that his girlfriend has just pulled away after experiencing an emotional crisis in her family. The day before, they’d been like love-birds, but she’s suddenly stopped showing affection and now wants her space.

He writes, “I have been supportive and try to give her space, but I am fearful and alone and feel rejected. I fear losing her and miss her terribly.”

He asks how he can be supportive while at the same time convincing her to come back to him — without driving her away. He ends with “I feel so lost. ”

There are millions of people out there in these torturous tangles. Once someone pulls away, the balance of a relationship tips, destroying the security and mutuality. The one who feels rejected automatically feels clingy and needy — and this further tips the balance out of control.

Most people who get into this just feel hopeless. It is demoralizing to find yourself groveling for someone’s love. The desperation and neediness make you feel make you feel weak and unworthy. You feel ashamed of having become an emotional beggar.

Just a reminder: We are all capable of feeling these insecure feelings — they are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of being in a very specific and very challenging situation.

Most importantly, no matter how hopeless it seems, there is a way out of this vicious cycle. The abandonee must recognize what an absolutely fabulous opportunity this is, since the only real solution must come from within. The opportunity is to become emotionally self-assured.

Self-assured. How many people wouldn’t want to become self-assured? Well this is the best opportunity to learn how to do so.

This guy’s only other option is to lose his power to this woman. The minute he lays his emotional needs upon her, he loses ground.

So he must begin by taking full responsibility for creating his own emotional security – from within himself – by standing on his own two feet. He must immediately cease and desist from looking to her to make him feel secure.

Granted, all she’d have to do is call him and tell him how much she loves and needs him, and he’d feel secure again (depending upon many variables). But this is because she has magic power over him — she has the power to make or break his emotional well-being (not that this is her intention).

Well this is what he has to change. He cannot afford to look to her to restore his sense of security.

If she experiences him as a rock — as a self-assured rock — she will be more likely to re-attach. But his motivation must be for his own sake.

He must take 100% responsibility for making himself secure. And boy is it ever a challenge! It’s the hardest work he’ll ever do. But it’s doable. And the rewards are amazing!

Taking responsibility involves reassuring himself (this is why it’s called SELF-assurance) millions of times that he can (and must) stand on his own two feet. He can go out and look for highly nurturing activities that distract him from the anxiety. He can get into the moment by doing things that are highly stimulating and life-sustaining. This doesn’t mean that he will feel very happy doing them; the anxiety might still be running through his stomach, but he will be breaking new ground.

Think of how well this will play when he speaks with his girlfriend as she watches him going on about his independent life, fulfilling himself. He doesn’t have to pretend to be okay. He can even admit that he’s feeling somewhat lost and insecure, but that he’s using the opportunity to discover wonderful new things about himself.

Read more:


Heartache Is the Itch You Can’t Scratch

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

This week, the theme seems to be the durability of the abandonment wound. People write to me that it feels as if they will never get over “him” or “her.” Some have been “hurting” for over 10 years – and these folks judge themselves (and so do their friends) as being pathological for remaining stuck in the muck for so long.

Well, it’s not pathological, it’s the way we are built as attachment mammals. The key is to give your “mammalian brain” (or limbic brain) someone new to focus on. Otherwise, it will keep searching for its lost object, even if that person has been gone for 10 years.

If you have been pining away too long, you must get back out there. You must make new connections. Do not delude yourself into thinking that just because he or she still remains so foremost in your mind (mammalian brain), that this person was necessarily so special. Your limbic brain does this even if the person wasn’t right for you. It’s just the way we are built. The brain continues “searching for the lost object” until we give it a new object to focus upon.

I’m being repetitive, but sometimes it takes a lot to get through to people who are so stuck. Many of you are stuck not only in the heartache, but in the false beliefs that go with it. May I repeat: The fact that you are still pining is not proof that the person is so special. It is proof that you have not yet found a way to outsmart your mammalian brain. To do this you must wake up and challenge your attitudes and beliefs. You must take a new lease on life and realize that your primary task is to make new connections.

Of course, the first connection you must make is to yourself. If you have lingering abandonment feelings, it is because you have abandoned yourself. Being rejected by someone we love almost always causes us to momentarily (or indefinitely) abandon ourselves. And this includes me. I became self-doubting and angry at myself for losing my beloved. This anger toward myself caused me to abandon my self.

So, my first task was to recognize this and to start connecting to myself in a new way. This meant accepting myself and administering to my needs on a profound new level.

I have spoken a great deal about how to “adopt” yourself after “abandoning yourself” in my books, blogs, workshops, etc., so I’m not going to take the time right now. Instead, I’m going to move to step 2: Make new connections with new people.

You must step outside of your usual circle of friends by becoming involved in activities that are new to you. You must reach out and connect with people who are outside of your usual comfort level. Your goal is not to find a romantic partner right off the bat. Your goal is to discover your alter egos – aspects of your personality and interests that you have not explored before.

Your goal is to explore your undiscovered self. You are practicing. You are learning, growing, changing, trying out new things. You are taking positive risks.

Being inflicted with an abandonment wound can be pretty serious business – it can bring the most independent among us to our knees. And it’s a nasty wound – more like shrapnel exploding inside than a clean razor cut. It can become infected and cause scarring. If we don’t know how to overcome it, it can really change the course of our lives.

But don’t let it. Yes, let it make you fight. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

When it comes to abandonment recovery, my message is always the same. There is no magic bullet. No 5 easy steps. Recovery involves work. It involves challenging yourself to the max and changing your life.

Understanding the Outer Child

September 20, 2010 3 comments

Meet your Outer Child, the self-sabotaging nemesis of your personality – the part that breaks your diet and gets attracted to all the wrong people.

Whereas your Inner child is all about feelings, your Outer Child is all about behavior.

Outer Child acts out your inner child’s feelings – especially your abandonment feelings – without giving you, the adult, a chance to intervene.

When you feel hurt, angry, or insecure, Outer acts out these feelings in ways that sabotage your relationships.

View Susan’s video Understanding the Outer Child.

The Outer Child

Categories: abandonment, Outer Child

My Insecurity Drives Him Away

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

When I give a workshop, the hottest issue people share about is the pattern of driving their lovers away due to their insecurity.

How many times have I heard: “They love me at first….until my intensity drives them away.”

As common a pattern as this is, the people struggling with in feel quite isolated. They feel they are in an abandonment box of their own making. They feel freakish for having this problem. They feel weak, unfit to be in a relationship. It’s such a painful pattern, and there are thousands of people out there suffering through it.

Insecurity creates such a disastrous dynamic in a relationship. It gives our power to our partners. It takes the mutuality out of the equation. It makes us overreact and over-need. Insecurity makes us want too much too fast. It gets us in over our heads. It causes us to aim our emotional suction cups at our partners. It makes us feel less about ourselves and our partners feel less about us. Feeling insecure and driving our partners away leads to self-loathing.

The first step is to stop beating ourselves up. Emotions are given. We can’t just switch them off, try as we might. We know our insecurity is turning the other person off, but we can’t just grab a magic dial and turn down the fear. We’d sure like to, at least in time to save the relationship, but we can’t just will our feelings away.

We need to DEAL with these feelings and there is a lot we can do to regain our balance. It begins when we end the protest.

Ending the protest means acceptance of the reality that we are responsible for our own emotional wellbeing. This is an enormous leap, and one I’ve written a great deal about in previous books, articles, blogs, etc.

If our neediness and insecurity are creating problems in our relationships, we have to realize that becoming emotionally self-assured is the only way to go – and what better time to learn this than right now, right in the midst of an insecurity crisis, where we are obsessed over our partner response toward us.

It’s important for people to understand that these emotional issues we’re struggling with are not due to any inherent weakness on our parts – they are most likely due to historic events that emotionally conditioned us to respond with fear. This emotionally conditioned response is quite involuntary – locked into our mammalian brains. The intense insecurity, neediness, fear, panic – these are not our faults, but since we’re plagued with them, we are responsible for “fixing” them.

I want to preach this from the rooftops, because people need to stop beating themselves up and instead take this leap to self-reliance. The alternatives are just too painful: Either to get caught up in patterns of constant re-abandonment (abandoholism) or avoid relationships altogether (abandophobism) in order to remove ourselves from the intense anxiety.

One thing about fear: rather than dissipate, it incubates over time. So if you just avoid the fear-causing situation (i.e. relationship), you are not healing the fear, you are allowing it to increase. This means that it will be right there, with an even stronger punch the next time you attempt to be with someone.

No, the only positive option is to use your insecurity as an opportunity to become emotionally self-reliant. This involves radical acceptance of your separateness as an individual. You must stop laying your need for security and reassurance at the feet of your partner and do all of that for yourself.

This is what motivated me to write my book BLACK SWAN as well as the others – because we feel so helpless and hopeless when we’re going through something like this, but it is the most amazingly beneficial opportunity we could ever have, if we know how to make this leap to emotional self-reliance. And very often we can do it in time to save the relationship.

Trouble Letting Go of Your Ex?

September 17, 2010 3 comments

Several people wrote in about the painful dilemma of trying and failing to emotionally let go of their exes. They feel extremely intolerant toward themselves for being so stuck.
This continued torment and clinging to their exes is completely involuntary, not subject to conscious control of their cognitive minds: “I try to stop thinking about her, but I can’t seem to stop the feelings.”

This represents the mind/heart disconnect we all struggle with in so many areas of our lives: “I know I shouldn’t eat this cake, but I can’t resist it.” I like to call this impulse-ridden part of the personality Outer child.

Outer child has a will of its own and acts against an adult self’s best intentions. Outer child is different from Inner child in that whereas Inner is all about feelings, Outer is all about behavior – ACTING OUT behavior. You can think of Outer as your inner child’s annoying older brother.

The reason I introduce Outer child is to explain some of the unconscious motivation of “difficulty letting go” Outer is born of unconscious motivation). Underneath all of this pining way is Outer’s self-spite. There is a lot of self-spite in hanging on to someone who no longer wants you. Unconsciously, Outer is saying, “If I can’t have my way (can’t have her back), I’m going to cry, pout, and be miserable all day. So there!”

Outer can make you miserable and depressed and wish you were dead because it is acting out its anger at the only person it has at hand – namely YOU. It is angry at your ex for ending the relationship, but it’s taking it out on YOU. In fact, Outer is so mad, it refuses to let you be happy or let go.

Outer’s anger can seethe for a long time and send your life into a tailspin – all in a primitive, convoluted attempt to get even with your ex. In other words, Outer can behave like a spoiled, self-spiteful brat toward yourself to “punish” the other person (even though it winds up punishing YOU).

As children we “punished” our parents this way: We went up to our rooms and kicked and wailed and pouted to make them suffer, even when they weren’t listening. In fact that made us bang our heads against the wall all the harder and to hurt ourselves all the more to try to make them suffer. We also wanted to get them to pay attention.

I know it might seem preposterous that adults could be as illogical and primitive as a child. But consider the fact that children behave this way when they feel powerless to do anything else. Outer developed within the personality in the quest for power – yes, primitive power. Outer wanted power and self-spite is an emerging Outer child power ploy.

If the hell you are going through has anything to do with pining for someone who has rejected you , I hope you consider self-spite as a possible source. It will help you locate the fulcrum and adjust it.

Examine your emotional history for early incidents of self-spite toward your parents. If you can find this childish mechanism and recognize it, you can now, as an adult, take yourself in hand, and remind yourself that you don’t always get you what – that sometimes you really ARE powerless – and that punishing yourself will not bring her back. Letting go will come easier.

When You Have Loved and Lost – What to do with All the Love? – Part II

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Self Love Not Narcissism
Caution: You don’t make yourself love’s object narcissistically. It’s more of a spiritual redirection of energy toward that central place within the self we all share – a universal place of quiet appreciation for the wonders of existence. Even if your existence has you currently writhing in spasms of torment, at least you can remember good moments in the past – and you can observe others appreciating these moments. Ponder these things and your own emotional state momentarily lifts a little. Notice I said “a little” and “momentarily.” This is not a magic pill. The benefits are gained slowly, cumulatively, through repeated practice. Use your appreciation of good moments – ponder self love – as a way of punctuating your journey with little commas, to create pause through the day.

If you want to move beyond punctuation and really gain traction to move forward, you need additional tools – power tools.

Self Love Leads to Connection
Let’s talk turkey here: For the vast majority of us, love must ultimately be satisfied in human connection. Your ultimate goal is, most likely, to find a new special someone. But for now, while you are bereft of that person, the idea is to throw yourself energetically into the act of loving yourself and the world around you. This does not happen by osmosis, by using specialized exercises that help you build a stronger relationship with yourself. These exercises act like physical therapy for the brain. They are carefully honed to help you convert love as a feeling into love as an action that you take on behalf of yourself and others in your life. I’ve filled several books of instructions about this [i.e. WORKBOOK:]. True, this process takes a little know-how and encouragement, but it is doable.

You Gain Gravitation Pull
This conversion of love-for-another into self-love transforms you from a satellite to a sun. You become a solar source of your own radiant warmth and energy – a glowing presence that others bask in as well. As you administer love to yourself in a real way through actions you give yourself (methodically prescribed through the exercises), you gain gravitational pull.

The love you give yourself must be unconditional self-love – love which compassionately accepts yourself, warts and all, as you would accept your loved ones. This kind of love is so magnanimous that people in your life are inevitably drawn in.

It’s not Idealistic Gobbeldy Gook
Does this seem impossible? Others have done it. This transformation is how healers are born. It’s also how people’s hidden strengths become activated. You see amazing people around you. Suspect that adversity prompted them to become who they are. All it takes is hard work and the right tools. If others have done this, why not you? And again, consider your choices: You can either drown in sorrow or rise to the occasion to become your higher self. Why not make yourself the object of your love and increase your potential as a human being?

You’ll do this Imperfectly
When you do this, you’ll do it not perfectly, but imperfectly. If you try to do this perfectly, you’ll make yourself the object of frustration rather than love. Plan to love yourself imperfectly. Give yourself a compassionate pass for those times you succumb to abject self-hatred and acute devastation. Love yourself affectionately for these feelings as they are part and parcel of the intense emotional crisis of abandonment. You’ll likely still feel demoralized, hopeless, helpless, and panicky at times – not to mention prone to constant self-doubt and idealization of your abandoner. There’s also the rage and feeling wrung out from all the shouting and crying you’re doing. You’re human, so attend to your wound lovingly. Reassure yourself: This will pass.

Accept all of these feelings as natural, part of the experience, part of transience, part of you, and administer to them compassionately as you would to a small helpless child going through this. Again, this will pass.

When you become conscious of being in heartache, don’t squelch the feelings, but gently remind yourself of the need to make yourself the object of your own love. Favor this idea as you would a mantra as you go through your day… and whip out those power tools and get back to work to do another round of physical therapy for your heart, mind, and soul.

Categories: abandonment Tags: , ,

When You’ve Loved and Lost – What to do with all the Love?

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Someone writing into my website asked a penetrating, thoughtful question:

“Dear Susan, In your chapter on Transcending, we learn about the `Higher Purpose of Love.’ “Is the Higher Purpose of Love, in general, that which is more than just wanting to be loved by someone special?”

The answer, of course, is Yes, but what is implicit in the question is: How on earth do you DO that? How do you take love so intense that it burns a hole in your heart – love for a person who wants no part of you – and convert this yearning, burning love into the “higher purpose” kind?

Surviving a Mortal Wound
The answer to the question may be “Yes” but giving that answer automatically breaks empathy with the person going through heartbreak because it becomes one of those easier said than done aphorisms. When you’re aching for someone who’s abandoned you, hearing a simplistic prescription makes you feel even more helpless and isolated. You’re struggling to survive what feels like a mortal wound, certainly not feeling emotionally prepared to snap your fingers and become an enlightened swami.

Back up. Wait a minute. Simplistic, extreme, radical, outlandish, yes. But when you take a moment to stop protesting the awful reality of being left, you get in touch with a strength you didn’t know you had – a strength that allows you, at least for a moment, to ‘face life on life’s terms.’

Protesting is a Universal Stage of Grief
Protesting is a universal stage of grief. It’s something we all go through and some of us are feistier and more stubborn about it than others. The truth is that protesting a loss doesn’t change its reality and only perpetuates the pain.

Trying to Change the Unchangeable?
When you catch yourself railing against the reality of your situation – digging in your heels to ward off having to accept what’s happened – and realize how futile your efforts are, you get in touch with your ability to calmly face facts and ask yourself what choice you really have. You can either continue gnashing your teeth and wringing your hands or you can use the same energy to Rise To The Occasion. What occasion? The occasion of taking the love that is bursting out of your heart for someone you have lost– love that has no place else to go – and convert it into the kind of love you can give to yourself and the world around you. This love is a transforming kind of love – a generalized, self-empowering kind of love that isn’t for one special person, that just IS.

This is love that you will first give to yourself as you would an oxygen mask on an airplane, and then bestow its life-saving sustenance on your loved ones.

How to Begin the Process
Converting love for an ex into love for oneself becomes possible only when you begin facing (and stop protesting) the simple, but painful reality that you no longer have that person to focus your love on. Who else but yourself to make the object of your love? This self-love thing is probably long overdue for you, anyway. You’re handy, that’s for sure – and most likely have nothing better to do emotionally. When you get the self-love thing going, it gives you a new beginning. As your self-love gains momentum, it automatically spreads to others.

To Be Continued…tune in tomorrow.