May 4, 2022

The Cycle of Self Abandonment: Part 1

By Marissa Halstead

Mental Health & Wellbeing

There are many people in the world who struggle with self abandonment. It often starts in childhood, when we realize that our parents have left us alone emotionally or physically. To make sense of this pain, we internalize it and come to the conclusion that we are unworthy of having our needs met. We do this to survive, but unfortunately this cycle carries on with us into adulthood if we do not change it. We do not know how to be there for ourselves because all we have known is to abandon ourselves. 

Since this follows us into adulthood, this manifests itself in our relationships, behaviors, and feelings towards ourselves and others. We desperately want to have our needs met, but we have learned that the cost of desiring such a thing is too high. We’ve had our needs abandoned so many times that it is just easier to not care about ourselves anymore. The hard truth is that easier does not always mean better. Self abandonment is self destructive. 

What does the cycle of self abandonment look like?

This brings us to the cycle that we get stuck in. This might have helped us to survive in childhood, but it is unhelpful in adulthood. The cycle of self abandonment in adulthood might look like: 

  • Over-giving in relationships: You perceive all the needs of the people around you, but you realize that people are not meeting your needs in the same way.
  • Inner anger towards the people in your life: You desperately want to be taken care of and since people aren’t taking care of you, the pain comes out as resentment. 
  • Expressing anger. This can come out as passive aggression or outbursts of rage, such as snapping at your spouse. 
  • Reinforcing shame: You feel shameful about your anger so you overcompensate to make yourself feel better. 

Who tends to self-abandon?

People who self abandon often are people-pleasers who hide parts of themselves by not sharing their feelings. This suppression of feelings is what causes this pent up anger that comes out in the cycle. Unfortunately it can end with other people taking advantage of you since you have a track record of not standing up for yourself. 

If this sounds like you…you are not alone! This cycle can change. You’ve done the best you can for so long, but something needs to change. You are worthy of being nurtured. You are worthy of having your needs met! This change starts with your relationship with yourself. In part two of this series, I will go into detail about how to change this self abandonment cycle with tangible steps to help change your self-talk. 

If you read this and realized that you struggle with the cycle of self abandonment, I encourage you to reach out today. There might be shame that comes up for you when asking for help, but I encourage you to push past that and take this first step in caring for your needs. Counseling is a great place to start to learn what your needs are and how to care for yourself in ways that you never have before. Give us a call today!

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