Posts Tagged ‘betrayal’

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

The Bigger and Better Syndrome

August 26, 2010 6 comments

Also known as “Looking to Trade Up,” this syndrome is the scourge of committed relationships. You are attracted to a new person. She turns you on. You’re into her. You start seeing her every chance you get. The sex is hot. You feel close, connected. You begin to imagine a future together.

But as it gets more real, you wonder if there might be someone better for you out there, someone who gets you to feel even greater passion. In other words, if you were to commit to your current partner, would you be selling yourself short? Another woman starts coming on to you, and you start thinking about her. This changes the dynamics of your current relationship. Your partner starts to get needy and insecure. You feel the pressure. You feel engulfed and want to get out. You’re caught up in “The Bigger and Better Syndrome.”

How common is this syndrome? Very. It’s especially prevalent among “good catches.” They know they have options: The other fish in the sea swarm them. Having too many options is a problem. It makes it hard to make a final choice. You’re never sure if there might be someone better. So you delay “choosing the one you’re with.” The opposite end of the extreme is the person who latches on to the first person who shows any interest. You think “this is it.” Underneath, you are assuming “this is the best I can do.” You rationalize clinging to this person with “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This can work out okay if you’ve picked someone who commits back to you– and someone who will grow with you over time.

But very often the person who clamps too quickly gets dumped. You’ve sent out all of your attachment tentacles to someone who is “looking to trade up.” Your partner eventually reverts to “surveying his other options.” You go into high gear to keep him. You are in pursuit mode. You are desperate to hold onto your catch. The emotional challenge serves as an aphrodisiac. You feel really hooked on this person – addicted. Your entire life revolves around keeping him. He, of course, in the meantime, is pulling back, resisting your engulfment.

Many eligible people out there have Bigger and Better Syndrome. They look like “winners” because they always seem to be on top. They seem to never get dumped. They are the one who does the pulling away, the leaving. They leave a long string of heartbroken lovers in their wake. This is good for their ego, bad for yours.

Yes, these people seem like the winners for a while. But if this syndrome continues into middle years, they wake up one day realizing they have a problem feeling love toward anyone who loves them back – especially for any length of time. Feelings of emptiness and loneliness creep in. Their life lacks a sense of purpose or meaning. They don’t know how to fill the hole except to continue finding partners who can make them feel infatuated. But they can’t sustain that feeling indefinitely, no matter who they fall for in the beginning. So out they go again in pursuit of “Bigger and Better.”

They are searching for the holy grail of lovers – someone who will keep them infatuated forever. He or she must be out there, they believe. But they continue to be surrounded by too many options, and they can never make a final choice. They have “Bigger and Better Syndrome” but don’t know how to fix it. What’s the solution? They have to hit bottom with feeling the emptiness – the futility of their current pattern. They have to recognize they have this syndrome. They have to become truly wise about how self-defeating these romantic escapades have become. They have become committed to change their ways. And then they have to take action.

This action consists of learning how to love – not just enjoying “pursuit mode” and infatuation, but learning how to love. Love as a verb. Love as a choice. Love as a cultivated behavior. Stay tuned…

How Does One Become an Abandonment Expert? Painfully

August 2, 2010 1 comment

I’ve had such profound life-experiences with abandonment and grief that I couldn’t help but become an expert in these subjects – and I’ve learned so many things from other people as well, that I also can’t help but want to bring some hope to people out there – whether it’s for someone who is going through a loss, or a friend or relative of someone who is struggling to fill a void.

In my own experience, here I was, a psychotherapist specializing in grief, loss, and abandonment for almost twenty years when my marital partner, the love of my life for 18 years, without warning, suddenly up and left me for another woman.

The devastation I felt catapulted me into an intensive change. I had to meet the challenge of dealing with the excruciating pain of loss, rejection, and betrayal. To survive, I had to get to the bottom of this pain to discover what made it so potent. Going right into the pit, I learned new ways of coping. The effort resulted in my publishing three books on abandonment, radio appearances, television talk shows, articles, my website that reaches out to abandonment survivors and clinicians throughout the world, and the workshops I give around the country to guide people through the techniques of abandonment recovery.

But it isn’t just abandonment that I’ve developed an expertise in, thanks to new life-experience. After being abandoned, I was fortunate to be able to find love again. My new marital partner, Paul, and I were together for 9 beautiful years, but within the past 4 years, he died. A whole new level of sensitivity opened up for me.

The amazing thing is that I had already been doing grief counseling for almost 30 years by then (in addition to abandonment therapy). I’d taken every training course in grief and thanatology known to humankind in the New York Metropolitan area, and felt that I was very knowledgeable about the grief process. What I learned is that I understood it on paper, but it took experiencing it to really get to the heart of what it’s all about – and to figure out how to meet its challenges.

In contrast to the grief experience, when I had gone through the abandonment 10 years earlier, there was no such thing as abandonment recovery and certainly no support groups for abandonment (because I hadn’t begun to set all of this up yet). I was pretty much alone, save having an extremely good therapist, Richard Robertiello MD who is now deceased who helped me immeasurably by validating my feelings and offering a roadmap for taking it a day at a time.

But with this more recent loss – Paul’s death, things were different. Bereavement is a socially recognized phenomenon. There was plenty of help and I reached out to several bereavement groups for widows and widowers. This was so helpful. I met wonderful people, continue to meet with quite a few of them, and learned so much about myself and about how “life goes on.”

I want to be able to talk about what I’ve learned from my experiences as a psychotherapist, as a widow, as an abandonee, as a human being – and what I’ve learned from so many people. I welcome feedback and questions from people.