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Susan Anderson’s Workshops and Appearances

November 11, 2013 1 comment

Hi all! Please find Susan’s latest articles posted regularly at and


New York Open Center in Manhattan, Sunday Oct 22 2014 10:00 A.M. – 5:30 P.M. All day workshop: Abandonment to Healing: Overcoming Your Outer Child Patterns of Self-sabotage. Register at or call 212 219 2527

Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Ca. Nov 16-21 2014:  6-day intensive workshop in Healing Abandonment, Taming Outer Child. Register 831 667 3005 or go to

Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Ca. April 26 – May 1 2015:  6-day intensive workshop in Healing Abandonment, Taming Outer Child. Register 831 667 3005 or go to

Categories: Uncategorized

When the Workplace Becomes a Stage for Your Abandonment Issues: What to Do When You’re Triggered

July 16, 2012 5 comments

When the Workplace Becomes a Stage for Your Abandonment Issues: What to Do When You’re Triggered


Blog: Susan Anderson © July 14, 2012



When the Workplace Triggers your Issues…    


You begin to feel nobody values your ideas.  Or somehow you become a scapegoat.  Or your coworkers gravitate toward your rival.  Or you’re overlooked for promotion.  Or your staff actively ignores your directives.  Or….


Any number of triggers can rekindle the old abandonment would, generating feelings you suffered in your family dynamics or in your peer groups at school.  It’s as if your primal abandonment sores start bleeding through, imprinting themselves onto your current experience.  The setting is different and the players have changed, but the emotional stain remains the same.  The workplace has somehow become a stage on which your old unresolved conflicts are reenacting themselves.  


Something, someone is making you feel small again… or invisible…  or misunderstood… or victimized… or slighted….   There you are in the same old emotional soup, only this time not as helpless.  


Now, with enough personal awareness, you flip it.  No matter how justified your grievances are, you can arise to your higher adult self and buck up.  Knock the chip off your shoulder, dump the sour grapes, and spit out the bitter pill.   To end the self sabotage you must take complete responsibility for the situation you are in by becoming the person you need to be to resolve it.  Rather than stay mired in the problem, advance to the level of the solution.  


Taking responsibility helps you heal the abandonment wound that is bleeding through.  You heal it not by wallowing in the feelings, but by picking yourself up by the bootstraps and becoming proactive on your own behalf.  Nobody was there to do that for you when you were young, but now you’re an adult, capable of taking yourself in hand and becoming your own best friend and nurturer.  


Responsibility’s starting point is personal awareness.  So, when a workplace conflict has that old familiar ring to it, recognize that it is because it is replicating a past emotional experience, and that this “bleeding through” means that YOU, however unwittingly, have played a part in the conflict (through subtle forms of self-sabotage), even if your grievances are justified.  You’re not a needy child now.  You’re not a kid in high school craving approval.  You are an adult who can turn this around.  You can avail yourself of powerful tools – mental exercises – that help you flip it.  


Maybe you do have a tyrannical boss whose personal biases cause her to undervalue you.  Maybe your colleague truly does have Borderline Personality Disorder and unjustly blames everything he feels on you.  These are the externals we can’t control.  There are people out there who have disastrous personality disorders… or are incompetent but manage to smell like a rose… or who are unstable basket cases… or have authority conflicts or jealousy conflicts and put you in no win positions.  Remember, each person has his or her own issues from the past bleeding through, staining their perceptions and reactions both to you and the workplace.  


You can’t change them or will them to react differently to you.  You can only deal with yourself.  Yes, you have a right to feel miserable when you have been maligned, but remind yourself that remaining mired in the resentment only embeds you further in the victim role.    


So flip it.  Stop sabotaging yourself in the workplace.  Burst in the door filled with renewed energy, confidence, generosity, and goal-directedness.  Become who you need to be to blast through the contaminated environment and victimy miasma you’ve co-created and change the dynamic.  Seize new ground.  

Categories: Uncategorized



By Susan Anderson © Dec 7 2011, posted May 1 2012


Do you sabotage your relationships?  Your long range goals?  Your diet?  There are myriad ways we all abandon ourselves, forsaking our true needs and goals on a daily basis.  Many of our (Outer Child’s) self-defeating patterns are aimed at our love-lives; others at our careers or life styles.  


Self sabotage has everything to do with self abandonment.  


Self abandonment is what happens when you love yourself ONLY ENOUGH to give yourself immediate gratifications, but NOT ENOUGH to postpone those gratifications and give yourself what you really want.  So you fall into old habits and let your Outer Child run your life: 

  • You grab for the second piece of cake rather than delay that gratification to achieve your true goal of becoming trim and fit.   
  • You overreact with insecurity or rage toward your lover rather than postpone that impulse and remain open to a healthy, adult exchange of feelings.   
  • You run up your credit card, numb out in front of the TV, or avoid career goals.  


When you hold yourself in high enough regard, your Adult Self is empowered to take charge and lovingly shepherd you outside of your comfort zone where you take forward reaching actions that are good for you in the long run, rather than indulge in avoidance, procrastination, and other short term fixes.   As a self-loving adult you

  • remain self possessed in your love-relationships even when things heat up inside
  • stick to your diet even when tempted
  • make that awkward phone call to open up a career opportunity even though the easy road would have been to procrastinate and justify it with excuses like fatigue, unfairness, or too much competition.  


Look how many millions of people love themselves ONLY ENOUGH to take the easy road:  Eat now, diet tomorrow; spend now, pay tomorrow; cling now, cry tomorrow.  


When you practice unconditional self love, you forgo your complacency at work, your sweet tooth at mealtime, and your temper in relationships.  Instead, you build steadily toward all of your long range goals.  


Hot to reverse self abandonment?  Well, it doesn’t happen by osmosis or by reading about it, although your Outer Child will try to con you into holding out for the magic bullet.  No, you must get on the program to resolve your ambivalence toward yourself and take actions that inculcate unconditional self love (self esteem, self regard).   The program involves behavioral steps that function like physical therapy for the brain. You change incrementally, steadily reversing self abandonment and reaching your goals.    

Related Articles:


HOW TO STOP SABOTAGING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS  Twelve Tips for Overcoming Your Patterns

INSECURITY – IS IT HIM OR ME?  Is He (or She) Pulling Away, or am I Overreacting? 


Is Your Partner Still on the Prowl?

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

You’re in a committed relationship. Or so you thought. But do you get the feeling that one of you is hedging your bets? Does your mate still act as if he or she is interested in meeting new people? You can sometimes suspect that your partner is still open to this possibility by the way others respond to him or her.

It’s pretty painful if your partner is still shopping, because it means that you’re being compared to others. It’s as if — despite everything you have worked for in your relationship — you’re really a commodity and can be easily traded in for a better or newer model.

This is often what is behind the commitment-phobic personality: These individuals aren’t ready to throw their lots in with yours because they’re remaining open in case there is someone better out there.

If you suspect your partner is hedging or pulling away because of this, it might be helpful to use your best finesse to call him or her on it.

You don’t have to come on like gang-busters. Ask something like, “I feel like you’re not fully celebrating our relationship. Is it possible that you are still ‘shopping’ for a partner?”

Even if your mate denies this, you’ve had a chance to plant a seed.

Remember: Mature people don’t shop — they care about who they’re with, and that’s more important than finding someone better.

Cluttering and Hoarding -Outer Child Messes – Part 1

July 26, 2011 1 comment

Cluttering and Hoarding — Messy Outer Child Behaviors

(c) Susan Anderson 2010

Is your Outer Child a clutterer? Do you want to develop neater habits? Become more orderly? Would you like to purge your home and overstuffed schedule of unnecessary things? This blog will help you.

If you’re a garden variety clutterer – you might have clothes that need putting away, dishes stacked up in the sink, or stacks of unopened mail – it is probably due to the rigors of modern life; your inner child feel stressed, tired, discombobulated, or preoccupied, and your Outer Child acts out by dodging clean-up tasks.

Some people have hoarding problems that are nothing short of extreme.

“I’ve fallen behind in my house keeping. Stuff started piling up about six months ago and I seem to have misplaced the living room sofa.”

“I just can’t throw things away, so I move instead. I’ve lived in three different houses in past five years to get away from the clutter but the stacks and piles just grow all over again until they fill up the bathroom and force me to move again.”

Most of us have seen images on TV displaying the chaotic, squalid messes inside the homes of extreme clutterers. If these images arouse our disgust, they also arouse our curiosity and an unspoken acknowledgment there is a spectrum of hoarding behavior and most of us fall somewhere along its continuum. Who doesn’t have a closet or at least a drawer that’s an absolute wreck?

In looking at people’s pileups, we are observing a metaphor for pileups in our own lives that don’t take up physical space. The metaphor unwittingly reminds us of our own unfinished emotional business, unattended goals, unsorted feelings, and un-discarded negative self-messages – messy conglomerations of issues that bury us under their psychological weight.

By looking inside an extreme clutter’s home, we are looking at the results of extreme Outer Child behavior, and the feelings we imagine that must go with it. It boggles the mind. In straining to make sense of it, we consult our own murkiest feelings. By plumbing the depths of our emotional understanding, we get in touch with our human core, and perhaps feel better about ourselves.

Clutterers’ Voices

In attempting to explain their habits and compulsions no matter where they are on the spectrum, people attribute their behavior to a variety of emotional issues:

“I’m a clutterer because I get too easily overwhelmed. A mess makes me so anxious, I avoid doing anything about it.”

“I’m a clutterer because I doubt myself a lot and I’m afraid of making a mistake. ‘When in doubt, don’t throw it out’ – so my piles just keep growing.”

“I’m a clutterer, but I think it’s all about procrastination. I don’t get around to discarding things.”

“I’m a clutterer because I can never have enough. I’m afraid I’ll be out in the world with nothing. Keeping all this stuff keeps me packed in and safe.”

“I’m a clutterer because I have guilt about wasting things. I’d better save them. What if someone might need it some day? But somehow I’ve taken ‘waste not, want not’ through the roof.”

“I’m a clutterer because I don’t feel good enough about myself to live in neat, tidy surroundings I can be proud of.”

“I’m a clutterer because I’m an artist and I guess my messy space is a form of impressionism – a tableau expressing the state of my mind: Chaos.”

“I’m a clutterer because I attach sentimental value to everything that comes my way. I collect it all. I feel too attached to it to get rid of most things.”

“I’m a clutterer because I have trouble making decisions and keeping things avoids making all of those decisions.”

“I’m a clutterer because I’ve had a lot of trauma and throwing things on the floor releases stress.”

“I’m a clutterer because I’m a perfectionist. I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of not keeping something I’m supposed to keep.”

“I’m clutterer because I just can’t just abandon my stuff. I feel too loyal to it. Keeping stuff feels like right thing to do.”

Although most people are able to connect their hoarding, cluttering behaviors to personal issues, they’re not able to answer the next logical question: Why do their problems manifest themselves in physical disarray and not in some other way? More than almost any other ailment we’ve discussed so far, when cluttering and hoarding become compulsive, it leaves people bewildered with their own behavior.

Quite a few extreme clutters have attended my abandonment recovery workshops over the years. They’d tried every other type of treatment, but their feelings and behaviors were so entwined, their attempts to break free kept them running in circles. So they’ve tried my program hoping to free themselves from Outer Child compulsions by healing the source – unresolved abandonment.  Stay-tuned to read about how my program can help us overcome our messy Outer Child.

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Overcome Heartbreak and Heal Abandonment: 12 Guidelines

June 30, 2011 10 comments

Heartbreak creates a downward spiral, because not only do you feel bad, but you feel bad for feeling bad – ashamed for not being able to just rise above it. You blame yourself for feeling dejected and hopeless for so long.

But nobody just sloughs it off. Abandonment– being left by someone you love – is universally debilitating. Its pain can overwhelm adult functioning and bring the strongest among us to our knees.

Abandonment creates a serious emotional crisis; its residual damages include low self esteem and a host of self-defeating patterns that interfere in your next relationship. But for all the disturbance it creates, abandonment has yet to be officially recognized a legitimate form of grief.

Not only hasn’t abandonment been publicly acknowledged, it’s been trivialized.

It doesn’t help that celebrities are careful not to wear heartbreak on their sleeves. Public figures going through a painful breakup allow only the appropriate amount of anger to show – and only for a discreet period. Indignant anger is more socially palatable than abandonment’s crippling depression. Accordingly, the famous present a public image of “triumph.”

This posturing creates the false notion that you, too, are supposed to be able to rise above heartbreak quickly and with your dignity in tact. If you’re still pining for your ex (universal to abandonment grief, come on, admit it), then you’re just showing how needy, pathetic, and dependent you are – proving to yourself, yet again, that you’re inherently unworthy of being loved (as if being rejected weren’t enough to make you doubt your worth).

The truth is that celebrities go through the same demoralizing process as everyone else. It’s just that the social stigma of being left (rejected, bested, duped, humiliated, discarded by someone you love), is so great, that they simply can’t afford to let it show. The famous must suffer silently, secreting their festering, throbbing hearts from public scrutiny.

Abandonment isn’t exactly a socially accepted form of bereavement for anyone else either. When you’re grieving a loss caused not by death, but by being dumped, your friends and family rally round, at least at first (until they lose patience), but your colleagues and acquaintances remain at a discreet distance. They don’t publish announcements about it in their newsletters or send you flowers and condolence cards. If they chance to meet you on the street, they usually avoid making reference to your mate (or loss thereof).

And what of your closest friends? Well, it helps to have a few spare friends lined up; this way, when you wear out the first one with obsessive ruminations about your breakup, you can go to the next friend until you’ve worn out his or her ears, and then to the next. Eventually your friends begin to say infuriating things like: “Just let go and move forward” or “You don’t need a man (or woman) to make you happy,” or “Happiness comes from within,” or “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” These easier-said-than-done prescriptions leave you feeling even more isolated than before.

So what’s the answer?
That’s the whole point, there is no “answer” – at least no easy one. If it were easy to get over someone, we would all rid ourselves of primal abandonment fear and the myriad insecurities that invade our relationships. But here are a few pointers:

1) Eliminate your unrealistic expectations about “just getting over it.” Accept the fact that coping with abandonment’s intense emotional crisis involves white knuckling your way through a lot of soul searching. After all, you’re coping with a life change that has been foisted upon you by someone else’s choice.
2) Rather than beat yourself up for feeling victimized and dejected, validate the fact that you are coping with a serious emotional injury. Accept all of your feelings, no matter how intense, as part of being human.
3) No matter now uncomfortable the feelings, create this mantra: This too shall pass.
4) Know that just because you’ve been “left” by someone, does not mean that you are disposable, reject able, not-attachment-worthy, or “not enough.” Catch yourself in the act of self-loathing – feeling you’re not loveable enough (substitute not… thin, successful, charismatic, sexual, compelling, etc. … enough) – and stop this self-recrimination. Undertake an immediate balanced, realistic inventory of your true strengths and weaknesses. Convert abandonment’s virulent self-depreciation into self confirmation.
5) Use your heartbreak as an opportunity to learn the important task of self-nurture. Accept responsibility for your own emotional well being. Discover your innate power to heal your own wounds. With each act of self-nurturance, you become more emotionally self-reliant – a task long overdue for most of us. Another mantra: Physician, heal thyself.
6) Face yourself. Reach to the height of your adult mind to squarely and objectively look at your own culpabilities as well as your partner’s. Don’t accept more responsibility than is due, but do face yourself courageously with vigorous honesty and humility.
7) Reach out to friends and family, support groups, sponsors, spiritual counselors, coaches, and therapists, as well as members of new organizations you join. You’re in a profound transitional period in your life; new people and old friends help expand your wisdom and selfhood. Keep your channels open to human feedback.
8) Find activities that get you into the moment. Practice mindfulness. Stay in the moment as much as possible. Practice exercises that increase your presence.
9) Take complete responsibility for your past, present and future. Turn over a leaf and vow to forever after desist from being a victim or self-victimizer.
10) Take positive actions. To accomplish this you have to fight your Outer Child. Outer would prefer to hide under the covers, wallow in self-spite, avoid taking new strides, and stubbornly insist upon staying in the funk. Now is the time for your Adult Self to take charge and move your life forward one day, one step at a time. When you feel leaden and unmotivated, take yourself (your resistive Outer Child) in hand. Put one foot in front of the other and walk through the motions of self-construction.
11) Keep a positive future vision on the screen of your mind. Refer to this future vision frequently as you go throughout the day. When you feel most hopeless (hopelessness is abandonment’s most prevalent feeling), simply conjure up positive image of yourself in the future feeling happy and peaceful. Another mantra to incorporate: Hopelessness is a feeling, not a fact. You can move your life in a positive direction.
12) Turn a minus sign into a plus sign. Vow to benefit from your abandonment experience rather be diminished by it. Commit to the long haul.

Categories: abandonment, Uncategorized

Triangles in your Social World, Workplace, and Love-life or How Triangles Affect your Life

Triangles exist everywhere:

  • Between YOU, your parents and another sibling
  • Between YOU, your boss and his star employee
  • Between YOU, your best friend and her other friend
  • Between YOU, your girlfriend and her old boyfriend
  • Between YOU, your partner and his alcoholism
  • Between YOU, your wife and her child from a previous marriage
  • Between YOU, your husband and his mother.

It’s hard to think of a relationship where a triangle isn’t involved.

Even your relationship with yourself has a triangle: Between YOU (your Adult Self), your Inner Child, and your Outer Child.

Triangles are a given.  They make the world go round.  It’s only when you feel at the short end of the stick that triangles get under your skin.  The feelings can range from vague ripples of discomfort that you hardly notice to outright seething and burning.

The important issue is how well you handle feeling triangulated.   When you sense you’re getting short shrift, does your Adult Self choose a positive course of action?  Or does that overgrown kid of yours – your headstrong Outer Child – get into the act and do things “unworthy of you,” like snipe about a rival behind his back or become over-people pleasing?

In other words, when feeling upstaged by a third party, are you proud of how you handle it?  Does your higher self always take a mature stance when dealing with the occasional bout of envy, resentment, or ruffled feather?  Or does your Outer Child act out your triangulated feelings in ways that do nothing for your reputation or self-respect.

The root cause has to do with your own personal triangle – Adult, Inner, and Outer – the three competing parts of the personality.  This intra-psychic triangle reacts to the other triangles in your life.  Here’s how it works: Your Inner Child beholds all of your yearnings, wants, residual abandonment fears, and vulnerabilities; and your Outer Child is hell bent on acting them out in knee-jerk reactions and defense mechanisms that have become maladaptive; and your Adult Self is overpowered, overruled, and left holding the bag.

The triangles of everyday life mesh gears with your intra-psychic triangle, one turning the other.  Abandonment feelings fuel the machine. When the wheels spin, Outer Child acts out impulsively. It is up to the Adult to apply the clutch to disengage the Outer Child cog and shift into Adult Mode. But this is often easier said than done.

Triangles tend to trigger primal abandonment because they’re about having to share a person’s interest, love, loyalty, allegiance, attention, approval, admiration, affection – with another person.  When your Inner Child gets triggered by the slings and arrows of everyday encounters, your Outer Child tries to push your Adult Self aside and swoops in to “fix it” in its bungling, primitive way.

When we sense that raw universal abandonment nerve of ours jangling, it is incumbent on the Adult Self to step up to the plate and choose constructive ways to handle Inner Child’s needs.  But here comes the problem:  In the intra-psychic triangle, guess which part of you winds up getting triangulated, in the one-down position?  The Adult Self, of course!  Yes, when those wheels mesh, your Outer Child grabs for power, and You are left to observe yourself acting out with sour grapes, defensiveness, anger, or resentment.  This is reversible.

The Outer Child framework allows you to adjust the way you react to triangulation.  When your Outer Child runs rampant with your Inner Child’s feelings, it becomes clear which part of you must get stronger, wiser, take charge – your higher Adult Self.   So, next time your boss shows favoritism, or you’re your friend shows preference for another friend, or your lover becomes distracted by a third party, convert these triangles into spurs for positive growth.  Improve your own internal triangle. Place your higher self on top, thereby creating a healthier relationship with yourself.  Commit to positive change by taking actions that move your life forward.

Related articles:

Twenty Ways Your Outer Child Sabotages Your Success in the Workplace

How Universal Fear of Abandonment Can Undermine Success in the Workplace

Categories: Uncategorized