Posts Tagged ‘break-ups’

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

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.

Part II: Trying to Get Over Someone

August 18, 2010 3 comments

Getting over someone: The task can be so arduous that it needs to become an ongoing project. And you can’t expect results right away. You have to be goal-directed, determined, and unbelievably patient.

If you learn now to work WITH rather than AGAINST your feelings, you will come out of it sooner rather than later, and you will be in better shape than ever before in your life.

To deal with your feelings, you must first get out of “protest mode.” It’s the protest (railing against something) that prolongs the pain and prevents the growth from setting in. Most of the pain is protest. Most of the agony is wishing it weren’t so, longing for the person, being angry that it happened, wanting your old life back, etc. – in other words, protest.

The reason we stay in this protest is that we irrationally believe that if we rail against it – refuse to accept the awful reality (whatever it is) – we can somehow make it change. We know better intellectually, but unconsciously we are trying to make it “go away.” It’s a primitive inner-brain thing – an example of magical thinking.

Protest is what we do when the person we love has died. At first we just can’t accept the fact that the person is GONE, even though we know intellectually that he or she can’t come back. Eventually we come out of protest and face the awful silence of reality. But only then can we move on.

Some people are more prone to protest than others. They have a lot of fight in them. It has to do with control. There’s a control freak in all of us, but those who have deeper “control issues” believe they have control over things they really don’t. By maintaining the illusion of “control,” they think they can force bad things not to happen to them.

In fact, some of your friends are in protest when they tell you “Just let go and move forward.” They are trying to convince themselves that if this ever happened to them (god forbid) they would be able to snap their fingers and make the pain go away.

Getting over someone is much more difficult than most friends or even therapists tend to acknowledge. Accepting the reality of a break-up, especially where there is rejection involved, takes much more time than people allow. And people who need to feel a sense of control, will tend to stay in protest longer. Protest (crying about something, analyzing it to death, being angry about it, etc.) becomes a valiant but vain effort to make an unwanted reality to go away – that inner brain’s wishful thinking.

So many of us squander all of our energy trying to change the unchangeable (even though we are doing it unconsciously).

So if you’ve been trying to get over someone and it seems to be taking too long, consider that you are in protest and vow to come out of it. (Of course, going through abandonment feels as if you’re sitting on a hot stove, so any length of time seems too long. Also, all of that simplistic advice from your friends implies that you SHOULD be able to get over it sooner (they are projecting their own “control issues” onto you).)

The antidote to protest is acceptance. The longer you rail against the reality you are faced with, the longer you delay the process of accepting reality and making the best of it – in other words, moving forward.

Acceptance is harder with abandonment because the person is still alive and this makes it more difficult to give up the ghost.

So, since hope springs eternal, the best way to accept the break up (to come out of protest) is to accept that it is over FOR NOW. This reality must be accepted as it is, soberly and without drama.

Acceptance means that you must make the best of your situation as it is, rather than wishing it were another way. Making the best? Okay, a subject for lengthy discussion, but briefly – it involves being with your feelings, tending to yourself with great empathy, love, and patience, and doing constructive things for yourself that will enhance your life.