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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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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.

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

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.”

Separate Self Versus Symbiotic Self!

November 10, 2010 2 comments

I’m trying to throw things out – I’ve collected thousands of pages of my writing over the years. Can’t I just junk it?

Well, I’m trying, but a page stared back at me from the garbage pile – over a decade old. I had written it right after my marital partner (best friend, lover, soul mate) of 18 years suddenly, and without warning, up and left me for another woman.

In the midst of emotional torment so intense I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get through it, I wrote a prose-poem about the struggle between my symbiotic self and separate self.

I felt as if he had flayed my heart, or at least severed the aorta. While it seemed that I was bleeding to death of heartbreak, I realized, somehow, that I was an adult who could stand on my own two feet even under such dire circumstances.

My symbiotic self was shattered, but my separate self somehow sent out a peace signal.

The separate self was a part of me that hadn’t had a chance (or need) to assert itself in over 18 years (because I was too busy enjoying coupled bliss). Newly emerging, this part of me was a real contrast to my symbiotic self – and a real life savor.

The separate self can survive on its own. It doesn’t need to have someone in its corner, someone to belong to, someone to return to at the end of the day.

In short, the separate self can survive without a background object. It might not like to, but it can, and if it must, it will do so with grace.

Losing your background object (the person from whom you gain a sense of security even when you’re not conscious of it) can lead to an unbelievably strong emotional crisis – something that feels worse than a nervous breakdown! Mine was so ferocious that I couldn’t believe that my lungs continued to suck in oxygen.

But when I got in touch with my separate self, I immediately knew where I had to place my focus. I recognized my separate self as my highest adult self. This was the self which I set out to nurture, build, discover, embrace, and appreciate.

In contrast, my symbiotic self continued searching for the missing piece, looking for daddy, yearning for its other half. My separate self, a whole person by itself, kept asserting itself, keeping me focused, saving the day.

At the time of my abandonment, my symbiotic self had filled up its missing half with the idea, the fantasy, the belief that someone was there—that I was loved and found and kept – a belief that proved to be an illusion. What I learned was that the symbiotic self held many such illusions – just waiting to be shattered.

I realized that my newly discovered separate self had to develop the idea of…I wasn’t sure what.. of its own two feet, its ability to give to itself in the moment.

Both selves operated within me and continue to do so, only now, I have learned a lesson, which is, to continuously and diligently celebrate my separate self.

The separate self (in me, in you) doesn’t desperately seek its other half. It says centered in the moment, looking to bring a full sense of life through its own senses, the sounds of life, the sights, the smells, the feelings, the sensations – all of them under its own power and control.

So, I threw out at least 1000 old papers, but I kept this one – because I’m still working on it.

Trying to Get Over Someone?

August 14, 2010 2 comments

If you are, you might feel like John who wrote into my forum: “Cold, Wet, Miserable, gray day outside and that’s just how I feel on the inside too. Guess we got another visit from the Withdrawal Fairy. Hurts like a Mutha, but I know it’ll pass.”

The “Withdrawal” he is referring to is the second stage of abandonment (Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing, Rage, and Lifting), when your body/mind anxiously “searches for the lost object. ” During this stage (which overlaps with the others and can be quite protracted), you feel heartsick. You’re as strung out as a junky, except that instead of craving Heroin, you’re craving a love-fix.
You’re constantly obsessing about your lost love, and it’s so painful and persistent, that you’d do anything to make it stop, only you can’t – the obsession is involuntary and creates real torment.

The good news though, as the writer above mentions, is that this phase passes.

In the meantime though it feels like you’re in permanent hell. People feel ashamed of how awful they feel and how persistent the obsession is – how powerful their abandoner has become in their lives. This shame only makes the withdrawal phase more agonizing, causing us to blame ourselves for being weak. We even wonder if “maybe this is why he left me in the first place!”

When we’re in withdrawal, especially at the beginning, we tend to fall into a game of “lost and found”. We anxiously wait for and “stalk” our lost love maybe we don’t actually follow him or her around (unless we’ve really lost it), but we may drive by his house at night to see if he’s home, check our voice mail 50 times a day, break down and call him, or otherwise try to track his activities. We wonder about his every thought, feeling, and intention. We feel powerless and helpless.

Eventually we stop tracking him or her, but we still don’t feel at peace. We’ve entered a morose period of just feeling lousy. We’re still not free.

So how do we get over someone?

1) We need to validate the fact that abandonment creates an emotional crisis. Just as someone who has received a powerful blow to the stomach, we need to treat ourselves as having incurred a painful wound that requires all of our best self-care. We have broken our emotional ribs. Physician heal thyself. We need to take exquisite care of ourselves.

2) This begins when we stop shaming ourselves – stop questioning our own strength. This love-sickness befalls the most independent people out there. It is not an indication of any shortcomings within ourselves, but just lets us know that we are human – and that we are reacting to a very painful situation. If the tables were turned, our lover would be going through the very same thing.

3) Use this as an opportunity to gain emotional self-reliance. Nobody is going to care about us the way we can care about ourselves (and by now we’ve worn most of our friends out with our obsession, so we’re pretty much on our own). See this painful wound as an opportunity to become self-loving and self-caring. Yes, we learn how to love ourselves from this. The exercises in my book help you actually accomplish this thing called self-love during a time of emotional crisis.

4) Take your abandoner off of the pedestal. Ironically, the more they hurt us, the more we idolize them. The very fact that they caused us so much pain makes us want them more. This paradox is universal, and it taxes the empathy of our friends who say “How could you pine away for someone who treated you so badly?” Yes, it’s a paradox, but they would be doing the same thing if it happened to them. Now is the time to systematically de-elevate your abandoner. You can do this by writing about him or her in your journal with an eye for seeing him as ordinary, human, mortal, flawed (like the rest of us), “not the only one,” not right for you, etc.

5) Re-invest the energy inside of the pain (all of that withdrawal “searching for the lost object” energy) into new activities. Yes, now. You don’t feel like it, but you must do it. You must add new things into your life, make new connections with people, take a self-improvement course, sign up at the gym, ask for a raise, undertake a new daily regimen like daily journaling, or move to a better apartment, etc.

6) Don’t confuse self-love with self-indulgence. The emotional hunger you feel is real, but you must keep it from turning you into an alcoholic, love-aholic, or drama-aholic. You must keep it from ruining your diet, your credit rating, and your future relationships. In caring for yourself, do things that have substantial reward.

7) Start looking for new connections – but vow not to clamp on to any one person (yet). You’re looking for distractions – people to think about and to test your alter egos on, not someone to make a permanent connection to. That will come later.

8) The most important thing to keep in mind is that these efforts involve resolve – hard work and determination will win the race.