Some abandonment issues start from so young, it’s hard for an individual to connect present day behavior with emotional abandonment from the past. One clear way to determine the existence of abandonment issues is to take a look at patterns in past relationships with family, friends and significant others. What are the themes? Someone with abandonment issues and lacking trust will have a theme that has recurred in all of their interactions. Why? Because the heart of you is so cool and amazing that it knows your issues and presents you with situations and people that will expose your weaknesses so you can see them, understand them and work to resolve them. How can that not be cool? Okay, so you have to step back pretty far from yourself to see it that way because some “lessons” can be quite painful. No doubt about abandonment issues being hard to deal with but at some point folks might decide they are tired of repeating themes and patterns in their lives…they may wish to make some changes and the only things we have the power to change are our actions, our thoughts and our approaches to life. We can’t change people, situations or the past, right?
So, what is the best way to overcome a fear? Exposure!!!!! Through exposure, you can become desensitized to the fear and begin to understand it, realize it is unreasonable today and may stem from a past wound and begin to modify your thought process in order to resolve the fear. With abandonment issues, this is so important. Well, that is, if you want close, fulfilling and caring relationships. If you’re fine keeping everyone at arm’s length, just close your browser and continue like Cleopatra! However, if you want to learn to love more, be loved more, feel more comfortable in romantic relationships and friendships then you’re really going to have to learn to do things differently…particularly if you lack trust due to abandonment issues. One thing I recommend that you do, and I mean this, sincerely…if you think you have abandonment issues that are really interfering with your relationships, go get some professional help through a licensed marriage and family therapist. They have the training to help you focus, find the precise source of the pain or original wound(s) and help you focus on healing those wounds and learning to respond to relationships in a different way.
There is a lot of work that can be done outside of the therapists office and on that note, let me just say…if you’ve got a psychological or emotional issue you’re working with a therapist on…don’t expect to be cured if you do nothing in between visits! Homework is necessary and that homework is being aware of your triggers and your natural responses to triggers…just noticing when they go off. Becoming aware is the first key to healing abandonment/trust issues. Next, learning to understand your reactions and rebuilding your own inner faith and trust along with self-esteem is the next place of focus. Then, after that, forgiving the people involved at the heart or who are or seem to be the cause of the abandonment feelings/wounding is going to need to come at some point in order for you to move on. Then, finally, learning to respond to your triggers instead of reacting as you’ve always done is going to come next. You’ve got to learn to respond differently than you did to a trigger.
So, in a nutshell, that’s how to spot it, work to heal it and relearn a better way to live. Now, when you get down to it, the work is quite uncomfortable. You really have to be dedicated to fixing the problem and being near people that will honor you and help you work through the issue. If you’re around people who can’t support this…you need to be around different people or be more selective in who you let into your life…and do definitely work with a counselor if this is the case. So, the simple answer…if you have abandonment issues and lack trust that if you let anyone in they’ll hurt you, what do you think you’re going to need to do? Yup, let people in…be open, be honest and realize no matter what happens or doesn’t, the situation can’t take your birthday away from you, it cannot change who you are inside and tomorrow will be a new day no matter what. Ever heard the saying: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself?” Well, with abandonment, the fear of being hurt and abandoned again, keeps us from letting people in which reinforces the fear and reinstates the original wound over and over again. So, the only cure is learning to be open. It’s not hard in theory. What’s hard is changing your natural tendencies…learning to think…learning not to over-think…taking time outs before speaking and reacting so you are in control of your words, your thoughts and your actions.
Making changes to your natural seeming instinctual reactions takes time, patience and understanding from the people around you and you have to realize that sometimes people can’t handle “your stuff” …meaning the things that are your issues. And let me say, as un-fun as that sort of rejection is, you have to understand that a rejection does not invalidate you as a human being. It really can be quite impersonal. There was a time for me that any form of rejection was unacceptable to me so I beat everyone to the punch. I didn’t let people in so they couldn’t ever really reject me. But a long string of failed relationships really made me want to change that behavior. It takes work and it takes time. But back to rejection…both my parents were alcoholics…I spent a fair amount of time in Al-Anon meetings and there I learned some really amazing things…like how to separate my issues from someone else’s…not to take someone else’s issues as a personal rejection and how to instead focus on the things I had the power to change…namely…me and my thoughts, actions and reactions. Al-Anon has an online bookstore and if you’ve never been to their site or ready anything about how that program works, I’d look into it. Another book I’ve read that sort of underscores this particular theme that is sooooo helpful in dealing with abandonment is a book by Byron Katie called “I need your love. Is that true?” Very eye opening in terms of the assumptions we automatically make as a reaction based on our own “stuff” as well as the natural thought progression we allow to follow which really leads us to our own pain. Interesting stuff…check that book out!
So, this topic could really become a book and maybe it will some day. For now, it’s just a blog, just some ideas that I wanted to share with folks out in cyber-space. It’s an important topic because part of the meaning of life is learning to love…love yourself…love those around you…and, allow yourself to be loved. If you’re facing abandonment issues and complete lack of trust in humanity, you may be relegating yourself to a lonely life with not a lot of love in it. That’s just not a good place to be. If anything I’ve written resonates with you on any level, I strongly recommend that you spend the time on yourself to heal abandonment and trust issues. Life is just too short to live it disconnected and in denial. Such things can lead to escapism, alcoholism, drug abuse, over-working …Goodness, the list goes on. It takes more time and energy to maintain “issues” than it does to work on healing them. At the end of the day, facing pain is a good thing. It’s really not as bad as the fear of it but you just have to know that there are tools out there, there are books out there and there are human beings willing and able to lend an ear, a shoulder or some advice to help you deal with challenges.
So, my thoughts for the day are pretty focused in one area. It’s an important area. I’ve seen abandonment and trust issues tear lives apart and cause some very unhappy and painful consequences for a lot of people that I care about. I’ve dealt with my own for the better part of my entire life. So, focus on healing, focus on learning and love yourself enough to make positive changes for yourself! There isn’t anything that cannot be changed within you so long as you allow the thoughts to grow, in the positive, love yourself enough to become aware, make changes that are healthy for you and surround yourself with people who will support you. (And just a hint…if you have no such people in your sphere…that’s a theme you might also want to look at). Peace and healing to you!
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