NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Self Abandonment: Part 1: What is Self Abandonment?

In my prior articles, I've written about abandonment in terms of feeling or being abandoned by parents, romantic partners, and friends (see my articles: Fear of Abandonment: Leaving Your Relationship Because You're Afraid of Being AbandonedThe Connection Between Fear of Abandonment and Codependency and How Psychotherapy Can Help You to Overcome Fear of Abandonment).  I'm focusing on self abandonment, a form of abandonment that is not talked about as much, in this article.

Self Abandonment: Part 1: What is Self Abandonment?

What is Self Abandonment?
The following list are signs of self abandonment:
  • Ignoring Your Own Well-Being Consistently to Focus on Others:  Rather than attending to your own feelings and what's best for you, you consistently ignore your well-being to focus on others--family members, friends, romantic partners and others.  Rather than taking care of yourself, you consistently prioritize others' needs over your own, even in relationships where there is little to no reciprocity.  This is codependent behavior.  You avoid thinking about your own feelings of sadness, loneliness or emptiness because it makes you feel too uncomfortable.  After a while, you might become so disconnected from your inner emotional world that you experience emotional numbing and no longer know what you feel.  You no longer know your emotional truth.  You might even see self care as being "selfish" (see my article: What Happens When You Numb Yourself Emotionally?Is Self Care Selfish? and Overcoming Codependency: Taking Care of Yourself First).
  • Placing Your Well-Being in Others' Hands:  Instead of taking care and nurturing yourself, you rely on others to do it for you.  You might be hoping, as an adult, to get from others what you didn't get as a child from one or both of your parents.  Even though you're hoping to get what you've needed for a long time from someone else, you might unconsciously choose people as romantic partners who can't or won't provide you with the love and nurturance that you need.  When you don't get what you need emotionally from your significant other, you interpret this as a sign that you're not worthy of being loved and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Eventually, after several disappointing and hurtful relationships, you give up completely on relationships (see my next description, Judging Yourself Harshly, and my articles: Emotionally Unhealthy Relationships: Bad Luck or Poor Choices? and Choosing Healthier Romantic Relationships).
In my next article, I'll provide a clinical vignette to expand on this topic and discuss ways to overcome a pattern of self abandonment.

Getting Help in Therapy
People who engage in self abandonment often don't realize that they're doing it because the behavior is so ingrained and often unconscious.

Having no recognition of how they betray themselves, they might not seek help until they're in an emotional crisis and in despair.

Once the crisis is over or they enter into a new relationship, they "feel better" and they often don't stick with therapy to change the underlying self destructive patterns--until they're in the next emotional crisis (see my article:Leaving Therapy Prematurely and Remaining in Therapy Beyond the Immediate Crisis).

If you recognize yourself in this article, you could benefit from getting help in therapy, and sticking with therapy to learn to develop a healthier sense of self (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy).

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to recognize and change self destructive patterns that are keeping you stuck in your life (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Once you've become aware of your self destructive patterns and worked through earlier trauma at the root of your problem so you can change, you can lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapy, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.