Gaining Confidence in Relationships
• Physical abandonment occurs when the physical conditions necessary for thriving have been replaced by lack of appropriate supervision
• Physical disappearance (death, jail, job, choice)
• Emotional abandonment occurs when parents do not provide the emotional conditions and the emotional environment necessary for healthy development. I like to define emotional abandonment as “occurring when a child has to hide a part of who he or she is in order to be accepted, or to not be rejected.”
• Children grow up believing that the world is an unsafe place, that people are not to be trusted, and that they do not deserve positive attention and adequate care
• Other acts of abandonment occur when:
• Children cannot live up to the expectations of their parents. These expectations are often unrealistic and not age-appropriate.
• Children are held responsible for other people's behavior. They may be consistently blamed for the actions and feelings of their parents.
• Disapproval toward children is aimed at their entire beings rather than a particular behavior, such as telling a child he is worthless when he does not do his chores or she is never going to be a good athlete because she came in second in her race.
• Having to hide a part of yourself means:
• it is not okay to make a mistake.
• it is not okay to show feelings, being told the way you feel is not true. “You have nothing to cry about and if you don't stop crying I will really give you something to cry about.” “That really didn't hurt.” “You have nothing to be angry about.”
• it is not okay to have needs. Everyone else's needs appear to be more important than yours.
• it is not okay to have successes. Accomplishments are not acknowledged, are many times discounted.
• Many times abandonment issues are fused with distorted, confused, or undefined boundaries such as:
• Not viewing children as separate beings with distinct boundaries
• Expecting children to be extensions of themselves
• Not taking responsibility for their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, but expecting children to take responsibility for them
• When parents' self-esteem is derived through their child's behavior
• Treating children as peers with no parent/child distinction
• Abandonment plus distorted boundaries, at a time when children are developing their sense of worth, is the foundation for the belief in their own inadequacy and the central cause of their lack of confidence in themselves and their worth in a relationship.
SWIRL– Relationship Grief Process
• SHATTERING — Relationship Breakup
• WITHDRAWAL— The more time goes on, the more aware you become of all of the needs your partner was meeting
• INTERNALIZING – Internalizing the rejection “I am a bad person or not lovable” You are Isolated, Insecure and preoccupied with ‘If only’ regrets
• RAGE –You attempt to Reverse the Rejection by Refusing to accept all of the blame for the failed relationship, and feel surges of Rage. Agitated depression and spurts of anger displaced on your friends and family are common
• LIFTING – Anger helped to externalize your pain. Gradually, as you become more involved in the new chapter of your life, you start lifting from your depression
Characteristics of Abandoners
• Abandoned themselves
• Need for power or to be in control—always the dump-er
• Unwillingness to let “walls” down – Unable to understand the hurt
• Seeking you to “fill a void”
• Their inability to commit was not about you, but about some personal needs of their own
Causes of Insecurity
• Prior abandonment
• Low self-esteem
• Ineffective communication skills
• Ineffective problem solving skills
• Cognitive distortions
Things to NOT Do
• Having unrealistic expectations toward your partner, wanting too much too soon.
• Trying to squelch the feelings. You know your insecurity is chasing your partner away, but can’t turn down the fear.
• Trying to manipulate your partner into doing things to make you feel more secure.
• Trying to disguise your emotional handcuffs as coyness or anger.
• Making your partner feel emotionally responsible for you.
• Loathing yourself when you sense that your insecurity driving is your partner away.
Things TO do
• Stop beating yourself up. Fear can be a false alarm, but it is your mind’s way of trying to protect you.
• Self validation: Acknowledge the severity of the emotional wound you have sustained.
• Cleanse old wounds: Abandonment has opened you up to old wounds that hearken back to your lost childhood. Give yourself unconditional self love and compassion rather than judge yourself as “needy.”
• Grieve the prior losses
• Stop blaming your insecurity on your partner (or anyone else)
• Acknowledge your strength as a human being
• Take 100% responsibility when you feel anxious rather than expecting your partner to “fix it”
• Vow to use abandonment fear as an opportunity to develop emotional self reliance.
• Approach your partner with self-confidence
Things TO do
• Remember that it’s no one else’s responsibility but yours to make you feel secure.
• Identify what is truly important in your life and how can you use your energy to help you move toward those goals and improve the next moment
• Pain management means time management: Build in daily activities that are life-sustaining, including time with supportive friends, therapists, and support groups.
• Feelings are not facts: Feelings are temporary and fleeting.
• Get into the moment and stay there as long as possible: The future has been disrupted by the breakup, and your past is where your love attachment pulls so painfully.
• Challenge despair: Hopelessness is a feeling, not a reality. Hopelessness is what makes abandonment feel so terrifying and torturous. Challenge your always and never thinking.
• The past does not have to repeat—Just because other relationships ended does not mean that all relationships will end
• Explore other relationships for:
• Facts—What happened and why
• Your part
• Their part
• The impact of other influences (jobs, friends)
• Quiet the internal critic
• Keep a “Me Journal” and add 3 things each day that you did well or that were nice
• Separate who you are from what you do.
• Creating a win/win
• Asking for help and saying “no”
• Jumping to conclusions
• Taking one clue (like the smell of perfume in your car) and assuming the worst
• Selective abstraction (seeing only what you expect to see)
• Only remembering the times your partner failed to do the dishes
• All or nothing thinking
• You always (or never) do this
• Fallacy of control
• You cannot control another person. If he or she is going to cheat, then he or she is going to cheat and it is more about him/her
• Thinking your partner is doing this because you are not good enough or he or she is trying to hurt you.
• Blowing a small mistake someone makes into a huge offense.
• Nurturing self & Nurturing the other person
• Doing things for yourself
• Doing things for the other person
• Allow the other person space to nurture themselves
• Love languages
• Receiving gifts
• Quality time
• Words of affirmation
• Acts of service (devotion)
• Physical touch
• Hobbies and interests (Maintaining yourself)
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