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STOP ABANDONING YOURSELF AND REACH YOUR GOALS

STOP ABANDONING YOURSELF AND REACH YOUR GOALS 

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:

DO YOU SABOTGE YOUR LOVE LIFE?  How and Why 

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? 

 

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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.

Addicted to Chasing Unavailable Lovers: Outer Child is a Notorious Abandoholic – Part 1

September 9, 2011 2 comments

Outer Child is a Notorious Abandoholic

© Susan Anderson 2010

What is Abandoholism?

You’ve heard of food-oholism, work-oholism, shop-oholism and, of course, alcoholism. Now here comes another, most insidious, addictive pattern – abandoholism.

Abandoholism is Outer Child’s tendency to become attracted to unavailable partners. Abandoholism is one of Outer’s most insidious patterns, and it is shared by millions.

Abandoholism is similar to the other “oholisms,” but instead of being addicted to a substance, you’re addicted to the emotional drama of heartbreak. You pursue hard-to-get partners to keep the romantic intensity going, and to keep your body’s love-chemicals and stress hormones flowing – an intoxicating brew to which you become both physically and emotionally addicted.

What makes someone an abandoholic?

Abandoholism sets in when you’ve been hurt so many times that you’ve come to equate insecurity with love. When your wires get crossed like this, unless you’re pursuing someone you’re insecure about, you don’t feel in love.

Conversely, when someone comes along who wants to be with you, that person’s availability fails to arouse the required level of insecurity. If you can’t feel those yearning, lovesick feelings, then you don’t feel attracted. Your Outer Child has taken hold and got you caught up in a pattern of pursuing unavailable partners. You’ve become neuro-biologically addicted to the high stakes drama of an emotional challenge and the love-chemicals that go with it.

This abandonment compulsion is insidious. You didn’t know it was developing. Until now you didn’t have a name for it: Abandoholism is a new concept.

Insecurity is an aphrodisiac.

If you are a hard-core abandoholic, you’re drawn to a kind of love that is highly combustible. The hottest sex is when you’re trying to seduce a hard-to-get lover. Insecurity becomes your favorite aphrodisiac. These intoxicated states are produced when you sense emotional danger – the danger of your lover’s potential to abandon you just when you start to attach.

At the other end of the seesaw, you start to turn off and shut down when you happen to successfully win someone’s love. If your lover succumbs to your charms – heaven forbid – you suddenly feel too comfortable, too sure of him to stay interested. There’s not enough challenge to sustain your sexual energy. You interpret your turn-off as his not being right for you.

How about following your gut?

If you’re an abandoholic, following your gut is probably what got you into this mess in the first place. Your gut gets you to pursue someone who makes your heart go pitter pat, not because he’s the right one, but because he arouses your subliminal fear of abandonment. And your gut gets you to avoid someone who is truly trustworthy, because he doesn’t press the right insecurity-buttons to create the aphrodisiac.

Enrich your mind. Follow your wisdom. But until you overcome your abandonment compulsion, don’t follow your gut – it will only get you into trouble – because your gut tells you that unavailable people are attractive.

The Pied Piper of Abandonment

July 20, 2011 4 comments

Most of the time I feel like the Pied Piper of abandonment. Thousands of people have written their painful and agonizing abandonment scenarios to me through http://www.abandonment.net, Facebook and now through this blog.

You’d think that over the years I would grow immune to feeling empathy for the pain they describe, but I read these things with amazement about our human capacity to feel life so very painfully.

There were three writers who knocked my socks off, and they represent three types of abandonment.

The first was Terisa who is fully attached and to a guy who wants to see her frequently but doesn’t want to consider her a girlfriend (he’s waiting for someone to fall madly in love with instead). She doesn’t understand why she stays so stuck on someone who only offers her heartache.

The answer is that she has entered into a “traumatic bond” with him. As paradoxical as it sounds, the more pain someone causes you, the more attached you feel. College fraternities understand this as does the military: The harsher the training and “pledging” the stronger the loyalty and bond.

This guy’s constantly pulling away from Terisa only sinks his hook in deeper. The same is true when you’re married to someone who keeps falling off the wagon, or keeps shutting you out, or keeps putting you down. The intermittent reinforcement causes you to cling more rather than let go.

What to do when you are traumatically bonded to someone? The first step is to recognize it and the second step is to treat it as an addiction, which means to get help. Don’t underestimate the power of the situation, and meet it with full force, which often involves full abstinence – and lots of support from others.

Then we come to Boomie whose husband has decided he doesn’t want to stay married any longer – but, and here is the clincher – he wants his family to remain intact – as well as to remain really great friends with his now heartbroken wife – and to get together for family outings to dinner and the movies.

This means that he wants all of the benefits of the marriage, but not the commitment part. Nothing is more deleterious for a woman’s self-image than to see her love as the only thing scraped from the program. Furthermore, it means that he doesn’t have to experience any loss at all, since he can still use his wife and family as his “background object” which will only make him more secure and more empowered to go on about his single business, no longer encumbered by the bonds of marriage.

Imagine the traumatic bond this sets up for Boomie to get snarled in. And imagine her chronic abandonment pain as this scenario plays out.

One can’t give advice in these situations, but I bet a lot of readers wish that she’d tell him that he can’t have his cake and eat it to – it’s either stay married, or accept a period of complete emotional separation from her.

If she’s like a lot of heartbroken spouses, she will most likely become so emotionally starved, that she will be willing to accept any crumbs, albeit friendship crumbs, he is willing to throw her way.

As for Jane Doe, her abandonment pain is excruciating because she tossed someone aside and then later changed her mind, only to find out that the tables had turned and that he was now knee deep in a new romance. She can’t let go of the need to fix what she broke and hound this guy for a second chance.

What makes her situation more desperate is that her beloved father died in the midst of all of this, and I’ve come to understand how bereavement interfaces with abandonment. The finality of someone’s death makes the need to restore a connection that is broken even greater. This guy isn’t dead, he’s just withholding himself. Someone recently bereaved will have a hard time giving up – because it means going back to that awful feeling of “never coming back.”

Reading these people’s situations brings me to a full stop. It reminds me what has motivated me to do all of the book-writing and letter-answering that I have done over the years.

How Universal Fear of Abandonment Can Undermine Success in the Workplace.

May 27, 2011 5 comments

You don’t even know it’s happening – it’s that subtle.  Twelve principles for moving forward in your career and healing from the inside out at the same time.

Susan Anderson © May 2011

The raw human nerve of abandonment can tingle during the course of normal work day – even when you’re unaware of it – when you feel ignored, unrecognized, or dismissed, or sense any hint of disapproval, criticism, or rejection.  These feelings are not the problem; they are givens.  It’s how you handle them – how you let your Outer Child (your self-saboteur) act them out in self defeating patterns that can hold you back.

The underlying fear of abandonment is a major trigger for Outer Child’s self-sabotage to spring into action with its knee-jerk defenses. This subliminal fear has many facets, and your ever-active, ever-intrusive Outer Child is always at the ready to react to each of them in defense mechanisms that have become maladaptive. These default defenses interfere in reaching your adult potential:

Fear of disappointment gets you to set your sights too low.

Fear of failure gets you to become passive, unmotivated, stuck in underachievement.

Fear of success gets you to hold back from excelling in order to avoid the competitive backlash….

Fear of rejection – difficulty handling criticism – gets you to avoid standing up for yourself, making you easily passed over for promotion.

When you’re afraid to assert yourself, speak up for your rights, take a position, it’s because you’re afraid of breaking the connection – afraid to ask for “too much,” lest the powers-that-be get annoyed, judge you, or heaven forbid, want to get rid of you – and there you’d have abandonment.

Rejection sensitivity:  Fear of abandonment manifests in difficulty handling criticism and heightened sensitivity to rejection. You make an excellent suggestion at a meeting, for example, but it is passed over in favor of someone else’s suggestion – someone with less substance but better able to gain approval than you.  You feel abandoned and self condemning all at once.

Whether or not you are conscious of underlying abandonment fear, it creates a background tone which keeps you slightly on edge and hyper-vigilant, constantly warning you: “Don’t rock the boat.”  This undercurrent of abandonment fear, though subliminal, inhibits you from properly showcasing your skills, talents, and competence.

Abandonment fear can silently subvert your efforts to manifest self worth.  For instance, your self esteem can say, “I’m valuable in this job” and your self image can say, “Everybody likes me and sees I’m doing a great job.”  But your fear of abandonment, lurking beneath the surface, can trump this by saying “But I don’t want to express my needs because they may like me less.”

Fear of abandonment leads to codependency.  A co-dependent employee can be easily taken for granted by employers and fail to get properly rewarded.  This employee, driven by the fear of losing ground (abandonment), manages to communicate to her employers that she’ll continue doing a great job even if they were to give the promotion to someone else, because she just LOVES doing work for the company.  So the promotion goes to someone less deserving but who, by contrast, has communicated that he is moving onward and upward – with or without the current company – and must to be given incentives to stay.

In fact, to get ahead, it’s almost more important to show self-loyalty – that your own best interests come first – than to demonstrate good skills, talent, and selfless work-ethic.  Self-loyalty is a component of confidence, and as we all know, confidence impresses others more than competence does – at least at first glance.  The ability to exude confidence promotes successful self-marketing, even in the absence of the person’s substantive effectiveness.  Many an incompetent ne’r-do-well has been promoted ahead of many an effective workhorse for this very reason.  Self promotion is able to impress people more than selfless hard work.

People with low self-confidence may feel inwardly angry and resentful when they are overlooked, but are afraid to express it directly.  Instead, in order to leave their friendly connections to their coworkers unblemished by their anger, they blame the unfairness on themselves for being such a wimp.  And so they dig themselves deeper in an ever escalating cycle of self-loathing and co-dependency.

Here are 12 principles to take primal abandonment’s many incarnations by the tail and use them as grist for moving forward in your career.  As we’ve seen, the raw human nerve of sensitivity jangles so easily in the workplace because of unresolved abandonment.  By resolving your workplace issues, you’re actually resolving your primal abandonment wounds – healing from the inside out.

As I’ve emphasized many times before, the principles of healing abandonment and overcoming Outer Child self-sabotage, involve an integrated approach, combining self-nurturance, constructive use of imagination, and action.  They work like physical therapy for the brain – incrementally, over time, with repeated effort.

1)    At the beginning of every workday, tune into yourself emotionally – center in on what’s going on within – so you can be aware of your innermost feelings, needs, and wants as you go about your day, especially the subtle twinges of abandonment fear.  These feelings are sacred, belong to you, and although uncomfortable at times, are what potentially connect you to yourself in a powerful new relationship.  You can’t neutralize abandonment fear by remaining oblivious to it – can’t squelch it, since it is indeed primal.  Only by getting in touch with your human vulnerability, can you tap into its potential healing power to act as a spur.

2)    Prepare to use your imagination, your most powerful, largely untapped human resource.  Imagine that you have a remote control in your hand and that one click changes the channel from the hypersensitivity channel to a new channel where you feel your power.  As if on a screen before your mind, imagine that from your depths, you see yourself step into your power, all of your feelings in tact.  You are still YOU.

3)    Recognize that in adulthood all abandonment is actually self-abandonment – and by ignoring your abandonment wounds, you’ve been abandoning yourself over and over.

4)    Know that the only person who can reverse self-abandonment is You.  It is not up to anyone else – is no one else’s responsibility but yours to assuage your self-doubt and delimit your self-depreciation.

5)    Recognize that if you hand this task over to others – if you continue looking to others for recognition, acceptance, or approval – you keep giving your power away and abandoning yourself in yet another way.

6)    Each time you feel a twinge of vulnerability (feel dismissed or reticent to speak up for yourself), make a commitment to accept yourself unconditionally.  Use any icky self-doubting moment as the basis for practicing radical self-acceptance.

7)    To practice radical self-acceptance, imagine that you have your arm around yourself in a display of self-affection and self-assurance.  Do not squelch your vulnerability or shame yourself for having it, but embrace yourself for it.  Reassure yourself it’s okay. You’re human.  You come first – anxiety and all.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

8)    Know that by giving yourself unconditional love – accepting yourself warts and all (anxiety, fear, reticence, and all) – you are reversing self abandonment.

9)    By looking to yourself for acceptance – by wholeheartedly accepting all of your human feelings, foibles, and talents – you are taking other people out of the loop.  YOU become the best person to give yourself esteem, to approve of you, to accept you.  YOU are responsible for making yourself feel secure and worthwhile, and no one else.

10) Each time you feel a twinge of vulnerability, use it as a spur to plan a positive action, one that is realistic, involves doing, forward working, and career enhancing.  Break the action down into at least three baby steps, the first being so small, that though seminal, will be easy to take immediately.

11)  Imagine yourself taking that action – i.e. a new job initiative, a positive gesture toward a colleague, a phone call to gather information about new employment.

12) At least three times a day, as if on the screen before your mind (your power channel), project an image of yourself as you would like to be – self-possessed, self-reliant, self-assured, and self-deserving.  Imagine yourself to be a person who is willing and able to feel your abandonment nerve jangle during the day without shame or self-censure– and that you no longer look to the outside world for crumbs of approval and recognition. Imagine yourself as taking self-directed actions -directed and moving forward.

PROFILE OF AN ABANDONER

May 11, 2011 2 comments

I usually don’t like to stereotype, but I cannot help but wonder if “abandoners” can be identified, stamped, and catalogued. Someone suffering through an abandonment – after being left by someone s/he loves – spends a great deal of time analyzing the abandoner. It’s called obsession. It’s the mind’s attempt to “understand” what has caused the dense tissues of one’s love-attachment to rip apart. So we “study” the abandoner’s putative “pathologies” and character traits – searching for clues is an effort to feel sane again.

So, based upon hundreds of emails filled with such obsessive analysis, not to mention my own personal experiences, I have tried to come up with a profile of an abandoner.

Abandoners come in every possible size, shape, shade, age, social form, and disposition. Parents, friends, employers, and lovers can become abandoners, usually without realizing the pain they cause.

People out there looking for new relationships might not be able to tell who is safe to attach to and who is liable to abandon you. Even those who are incapable of being emotionally responsible, look like ideal partners in the beginning when they are trying to win you over with their charms. Unless you know their M.O. (that they’ve dumped a lot of people before), it’s impossible to know for sure just who is trustworthy and who is an abandoner.

What complicates the picture even more is that one person’s abandoner is another’s permanent partner. Also, many abandonment victims go on to become abandoners themselves. The circumstances surrounding relationships are so complex, that no one of us is really in a position to point the finger. Most of us can swing back and forth – sometimes we’re abandonees and sometimes abandoners.

But everyone knows that are serial abandoners – you know, the ones who get off on inflicting emotional pain on the other person. They create devastation to show their power and sometimes, to express their anger – anger pent up from some dark corner of own abandonment history, perhaps.

But even abandoners who are not power-driven, can get a swelled head as an unintentional by-product of hurting you. They might feel badly about it, but they can’t help but go on an ego trip as they witness the intensity of your agonized desire for them. They’re not, however, about to openly admit to feelings of triumph. This would make them seem like cads. Instead they try to show their humble feelings of regret over having caused you “disappointment” or “inconvenience” (note the understatements!). They are usually easily distracted from their guilt, because they get caught up in their new lives (and new loves).

Yes, many abandoners seem oblivious to the emotional crisis they have caused by leaving you. This obliviousness seems callous and self centered to the one who was thrust into the torment of abandonment.

Ironically, this somehow puts them in a one-up position to you, and what do you do? You idealize THEM. This makes it that much harder to let go. The more they hurt you, the deeper their hook sunk into your heart.

Many abandoners attempt to BLAME the one they left behind – for the break up. “It’s because you were too needy and dependent” or “angry,” they might say.

Meanwhile, yeah, okay, you became “needy” “dependent” “angry”, but not because you ARE these things, but because you were REACTING to their gradually pulling away. None-the-less, you will beat yourself up anyway.

The reason abandoners blame the other person is to justify their actions and avoid feeling guilty. They want to keep their positive self- image at all costs – at your expense. They take as little responsibility as possible, and this just adds insult to injury. Now, as the abandonee, you’re left to grapple with the pieces of a broken relationship, feeling rejected and “kicked while your down” by their blame, criticism, betrayal, and rejection.

Then, of course, you turn the rage over being rejected against yourself, and you blame yourself, causing your self-esteem to plummet and your spirit to sink into a major depression.

Not that you don’t have some of your own soul searching to do. It’s really important to take personal responsibility for your side of the difficulties in the relationship. This self-evaluation process is painful and necessary. If you do it constructively, you’ll grow. But during the soul-searching, you’re even more vulnerable (and gullible) to your abandoner’s blame than usual. Instead of getting honest feedback, what you usually get is your abandoners’ “excuses” for his/her own commitment problem.

But wait a minute, let’s be honest. Most abandoners (don’t forget, we have all been abandoners at one time or other) do not set out to abandon. They aren’t tying to hurt you. Most are just human beings struggling to find the answers to life’s difficult challenges along with everyone else.

Just Which One Is the Abandoner?

I’m a therapist, a family member, and a friend, but no matter which role one I’m in, I tend to empathize with the abandonee.

That is, the person who received the slight. The one who WASN’T invited to the special party. The one who did a great job but got fired. The loving partner left for another.

Even as a kid, I rooted for the underdog. If I watched football on television, I got hoarse cheering for the losing team, unless they’d begin to win, and then I’d feel badly for the other team. It’s something deep in-the-bone in me, borne no doubt of my early experiences, and groomed me to become a specialist in abandonment.

Specialist or no, it’s not always so easy to tell just who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. Will the real abandoner please stand up?!

Sometimes people feel abandoned within a relationship. They endure an aching sense of chronic rejection. After years of feeling taken for granted, dismissed, ignored, or abused, they finally get up the nerve to leave. They feel entirely justified because they didn’t feel loved to begin with. They didn’t matter. Nobody claimed their heart.

Very often, I would even say almost always, the partner they are leaving goes into acute abandonment crisis – heartbreak like you’ve never seen the likes of.

So which one is the abandoner?

Of course the answer is both, but oh do I wish something could have been done to work on this problem sooner. It would spare so much pain.

Abandonment pain is the worst! And the “too late-ness” of the situation frustrates me tremendously.

I’d like to shout it from the rooftops. People have to stop abandoning each other. Lovers have to behave more responsibly. Spouses have to nurture each other’s basic need for love and acceptance. Friends, family, employers have to learn how to communicate and be open to feedback! People have to realize the pain involved in abandonment.

Here’s what complicates things: Some people are hyper-sensitive to rejection (abandonment). So they perceive rejection or insult in the slightest nuance, sometimes even when it is not there. Then they become difficult toward the person, creating a set-up where they wind up actually getting a negative response. Their fear of abandonment created a self-fulfilling prophecy. They feel like the victim, but don’t realize the extent to which they are the perpetrator.

This can take on an extreme form where people go around being belligerent toward others (getting even with them in passive hostile and not-so-passive hostile ways) based upon their misperceptions. These extreme folks have little or no insight and tend to blame all of their problems on the other person, not realizing the problems they caused.

No easy answers for now, just wanted to stroke the folks who find themselves sometimes on both sides of the victim feeling.