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Posts Tagged ‘alone’

Abandonment and Outer Child

January 19, 2011 1 comment

Abandonment has everything to do with Outer Child patterns – how they developed and how to overcome them.

If you want to overcome your most deeply entrenched self-defeating patterns, you must heal your abandonment wounds.

No, you don’t need 500 hours of psychoanalysis. You just need to learn how to use the program’s power tools – easy-to-perform exercises that you incorporate into your daily life. They are like physical therapy for the brain. As you practice them, you see change – and heal from the inside out.

I developed Outer Child (along with fellow psychotherapist Peter Yelton ACSW) when I was writing my first book on abandonment, looking for ways to help people overcome the aftermath of heartbreak and loss – those pesky patterns of behavior that interfere in our relationships.

Outer Child’s strong connection to abandonment is because most of Outer’s patterns were born during earlier times of loss, rejection, hurt, disappointment, self-doubt, disconnection – in short – abandonment. Outer’s primary role is defending (over-defensively) against the insecurity and fear seeping out of your old wounds. In fact, our most automatic, knee-jerk defense mechanisms, especially the maladaptive ones, are driven by abandonment fear.

This subliminal but ever-present fear not only triggers Outer to act out in our love relationships, but the residual insecurity causes Outer to take everything to the extreme – sleeping, watching TV, drinking, spending money, cluttering, procrastinating. For example, hoarders report that what motivates them to surround themselves with so much stuff is the subliminal fear that they’ll be left all alone with nothing and no one to care about them.

Learn more about abandoholism – the infamous Outer Child pattern of being attracted only to the available. Pre-order TAMING YOUR OUTER CHILD: A Revolutionary Program to Overcome Self-Defeating Patterns

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What Is It About Holidays That Tug at Our Abandonment Strings?

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Maybe it’s the smells. A few whiffs of cinnamon, butter cooking, turkeys roasting, chocolate melting, and pine needles and we are brought right back to earlier times — times when we were nestled into our families and their traditions. The holidays are just around the corner and soon we will be inundated by those familiar tastes, smells, sounds and sights that tug at our heartstrings. This helps to enhance the spirit for the folks who are happily tucked in with their mates and families. But for those of us who are alone, the holidays can arouse a sense of longing for deep connection. This can inspire creative change or trigger a kind of seasonal depression.

There are so many people out there who face the holiday season without a special someone to share it with. We may have a family to visit, but may feel emotionally alone. Maybe we are going though a breakup, grieving the death of a loved one, having trouble finding someone to love, or involved in a relationship where we feel a loss of love. We may show up at family gatherings attempting to put the best face on it, but somewhere inside we may feel some isolation, apathy, or disconnection, all the while surrounded by reminders of earlier times when we felt connected to people we loved and belonged to.

People ask me how to cope. Drawing from an old list, I’d like to pose a challenge: Allow your holiday emotions to inspire creative change. Choose Change over Depression. Here’s how:
1) Don’t underestimate these feelings. Embrace them as part of being human and be extra gentle with yourself. Don’t try to push them away. Ignoring them just drives them underground where they drain your energy and mood from within. Instead be prepared for nostalgic feelings. Validate your vulnerability and give yourself extra care. In short, be your own physician: Tend to your own wound caringly.
2) Share your feelings whenever you can with people you trust. In some cases, this may have to be a professional counselor. Sharing helps to soothe the primal abandonment feelings that underlie the depression and also helps you feel less alone.
3) Create new hope in your life. Take initiatives designed to reap some benefits later on. At the very least buy a lottery ticket, but also initiate new undertakings that will help you reach your goals, such as joining a dating service, sending out an application to get a degree, signing up for an exercise program, or rewriting your resume so that later you can take advantage of new job opportunities. You have to really get creative here. And you have to follow through.
4) Create events that you can look forward to in the future such as planning a trip to visit a friend.
5) Reach out to people. Create a connection with new people and reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with. Spend time with someone you love who makes you smile. Talk to people who have been through abandonment and have come out the other side – positively. These connections often times involve taking positive risks. Now is the time to take them!
6) Approach people with the spirit of giving – not with gifts (necessarily) but with your interest and caring for them. Being generous means being in the moment with them, being fully present. Demonstrate an earnest desire to listen to them. Be in empathy with their lives. Make them feel their special importance in your life.
7) Do some community outreach to help others. Now that you’re feeling lonely, you can appreciate how difficult it is for folks who are isolated within hospitals, prisons, shelters, nursing homes, or on the streets. Help them feel a little less lonely by letting them know someone cares. Come bearing gifts or just your company. Lend a helping hand.
8) Nurture yourself. Put a lot of thought in what little things might feel pampering and luxurious to you. Probe yourself by asking, “What do I want?” Watch inspiring movies – go to net flicks or spiritual cinema.com. Visit a new place (that you have not been to before), one that has special holiday spirit or a transporting ambience. Give yourself as many indulgences as you can afford, and remember, self-indulgence is not the same as self-nurturance. We don’t want a credit card debt to have to repay later.
9) Don’t depend solely upon being invited to other people’s parties, plan your own gatherings. Be ready to laugh and enjoy. This is another positive risk that is worth taking!
10) This one is the most important: Recognize the temporary nature of all things. As for your loneliness, remind yourself, “This is only a feeling and this too shall pass.”

Hurts So Good?

July 28, 2010 2 comments

So many of you write about the pain you feel when someone you’re attached to turns out to be emotionally unreliable. So why is it so hard to leave these types of relationships?

It seems that negative attractions can be more compelling than positive ones.  Traumatic bonding, a highly prevalent condition of human relationship, has an addictive biochemistry of its own.  Fear and pain are powerful reinforcers — powerful enough, in many cases, to turn even the strongest into Pavlov’s dogs, salivating for someone we know is no good for us.

The animal kingdom offers many examples of this.  For instance, when a researcher steps on the toe of a duckling, it follows him more closely than before.

The hazing ritual involved in joining a fraternity is based on this principle.  Pain and humiliation inflicted upon the pledges increase the loyalty in the fraternal bond.

So what are the signs that you are involved in negative attraction?

  • You lose emotional control over your life as your partner constantly violates the trust of your relationship.
  • You feel desperately needy because your partner has been withholding of love and unreliable.
  • Your partner hasn’t treated you with the respect you know you deserve, and yet you keep going back for more
  • You feel addicted to your partner though you know he or she is only bringing you down.

How to Cope

Each one of us has a bottom, and it’s up to us to realize when we’ve reached that bottom.  Then we have to take action to regain control of our lives.

An addictive relationship is a lot like alcoholism.  You can’t just have a little “sip” of your partner without wanting the whole relationship.  And yet your partner is not willing or able to give you that, so you spend your entire life craving something you can’t have.

If the relationship is really destructive and damaging your life, you will probably have to abstain to regain control.  Yes, that may mean breaking away from your relationship, finding closure, letting go, moving forward.  Friends can help, but if you’re still stuck, get professional counseling.

In a negative attraction, it’s the boundary between reason and emotion that becomes blurred.  Only you can put an end to the addictive pattern and create a healthy boundary.  Sometimes it takes grit. Be tough as nails and act according to your own better judgement.

Stuck in Relationship Patterns

We all know people who are stuck in patterns. They’re alone and unfulfilled because they keep pursuing unavailable partners. When someone comes along who is genuinely interested, they push him or her away because they feel no attraction. Their lives are caught up in cycles of abandonment.

Why do we keep repeating the same patterns over and over and what can we do about them?

Step 1: Admit that you have the problem. This is an enormous step because it’s so easy to disguise it by telling yourself that you “just haven’t met the right person.” The truth is that even if the right person came along, unless he or she made you feel that old emotional hunger, you wouldn’t be attracted to him or her.

Step 2: Accept how futile it is to go through life being attracted only to unavailable people and running away from people who are genuinely available. Owning up to your pattern will create a turning point in your life.

Step 3: Recognize that you’re not alone. Millions of people like you are caught up in these patterns and don’t know how to get out.

Step 4: Be determined to break this pattern. Determination is absolutely necessary because this is a very hard problem to break. There is a way out, but insight alone won’t change it. You have to actively work on it.

Step 5: To keep you on track, consider seeking help from a counselor, trusted friend, or sponsor. Writing in a journal also helps. Be rigorously honest with yourself and others.

Step 6: Re-evaluate your old belief system about who is a “good catch” and what love is. Many of your values are undoubtedly left over from high school or from growing up with your parents.

Step 7: Once you identify faulty values, discard them. They have become bad emotional habits, so you must challenge them actively in your journal, in discussions with others, and in your everyday life.

Step 8: Redefine what love is all about. Mature love involves not constantly pursuing hard-to-get lovers, but mutual caring, trust, respect, sharing, and commitment. Seek a relationship instead of romance.

Step 9: Be realistic. Change won’t happen overnight. Your body is conditioned to feel turned on only when you feel insecure; otherwise you sexually and romantically shut down. You (and your body) have temporarily lost your capacity to appreciate mutual attachment. It takes time to retrain yourself to respond to new cues.

Step 10: To guide your journey, remain open to your own truth. Being rigorously honest with yourself and significant others helps your higher self to emerge — a higher self no longer stuck in patterns.

Step 11: Take positive risks. Reach out to activities and people beyond your usual circle to practice your hidden interests and capabilities. Become your higher self by sharing your changing values with others.

Step 12: What do you do when you slip back into the pattern? Understand what causes you to be attracted to the unavailable and summon the will to change it.

Why are you love-challenged? Because past heartbreaks have caused your wires to cross. You’ve come to confuse insecurity and longing with love. Your emotional pendulum swings between fear of engulfment and fear of abandonment. Insecurity has become your favorite aphrodisiac. Only you can uncross those wires. Re-examine your values, challenge your old beliefs and relearn how to love.

Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Defeating Patterns can now be preordered.

Do you have an outer child?  Go to www.outer-child.com to see the checklist and learn more about self-sabotaging your *relationships *diets and *finances *etc. and what to do about it.