Do you struggle with putting everyone else’s needs before your own? Do you have a difficult time trusting yourself? Do you deny parts of yourself in order to fit in with other people’s expectations of who you should be?
You may be engaging in what is known as “self-abandonment”. It happens when you neglect your own needs, desires, feelings, and values. This pattern may have roots in early childhood if one or more caregivers had many emotional needs that you were expected to meet. Perhaps you were busy soothing this adult in your life instead of identifying and having your own needs met. As you enter into adulthood, this pattern may transfer to romantic partners and insecure attachments form that may lead to codependent behaviors and inability to put your needs first, or even be able to identify what your needs are.
Self-abandonment is a coping mechanism developed in order to cope with unhealthy or dysfunctional family dynamics. Children depend on adults to meet their emotional and physical needs, but when you live in an unpredictable, chaotic, or abusive household, you learn to suppress your own needs. This chaos may manifest when a parent has issues with addition or mental illness. Often times self-abandonment develops when a child is raised by a narcissistic parent. Overtime, this may lead to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. You may start to feel as though your worth depends on what you do and what you accomplish, yet never feeling good enough or able to reach those standards you place on yourself. Perhaps you start to feel as if you don’t deserve love or compassion. You may also struggle with trusting yourself.
When you start to gain awareness, you may begin to notice that something is not right. Unhealthy patterns in your life continue and you don’t understand why. You may even reflect on your childhood and struggle to see the dysfunction because you have been so programmed to believe this was normal. You may blame yourself for getting into yet another toxic relationship or struggling to secure stable employment, adding onto the layers of negative self-worth. Fortunately, self-awareness is the first step in the healing process.
Once you start the healing process, you will begin to identify your own needs outside of others. You will identify what parts of yourself you have been suppressing and begin to work through the discomfort. You will start to set healthy boundaries with toxic individuals in your life. Eventually, you will start taking values-driven action and a lot of the hurt, resentment, and pain will start to be replaced by things that bring you meaning and joy. But this process is not a quick and easy road—having grace for yourself along the journey is a must!
Some signs of self-abandonment include:
-Struggling to trust your instincts -Perfectionism -Compulsive care-taking -Difficulty identifying needs/values -Need for reassurance and validation from others -Codependent/toxic relationships -Difficulty setting boundaries -Self-criticism -Low self-worth
If you feel like you are struggling with self-abandonment, it may be a good time to speak with a licensed therapist who can help you process the difficult thoughts and emotions that stem from dysfunctional family dynamics, low self-worth, and inability to stand up for yourself and set healthy boundaries with toxic people in your life. Call us today at 253 Therapy and Consult to schedule an appointment. As always, we are here for you!