Dealing with Self-abandonment & Mastering Self in 6 Steps
Self-compassion is the antidote for self-abandonment.
It’s the little things…the things you don’t put much thought to because they happen out of habit, but they come with heavy repercussions that will require years to undo.
I keep putting off meals because someone else needs my immediate attention or promise myself that someone else on the list is a lot more important than some moments of silence, a hot meal, or active, intentional rest. In these moments, I ignore the fact that my body is screaming bloody murder, and maybe I’ll self-medicate to avoid the burning in my tummy which is often a signal of hunger or maybe I ate something I shouldn’t have. Then you have the migraines. So, by the end of the day or week, I’m beating myself up wondering, why didn’t I just do that thing, said yes to me, or said no to someone else’s needs. It’s not completely wrong to be selfish sometimes, as long as the person under my care has the basics or can be taken care of by someone else as I take a breather.
The list goes on as I dig myself deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. I’ve been taking this course for longer than I know I should because things keep coming up, even if these things mean extra TV time or doing something to please someone else. Well, other times I’m just bone tired to do anything, and I don’t regret sleeping. And let’s not talk about the number of times I’ve skipped workouts or some minutes in the sun, despite knowing how terribly my mental and physical health suffer!
I know I’m not rocking this boat alone though.
But as painful as it is to admit such flaws to myself and the world, it’s my hope that this is what I need to do to get better and to develop a little more self-respect. Such neglectful and self-sabotaging behaviors can be undone. It all starts with admitting that there is something we are doing wrong and perhaps we can change it.
Before we get any deeper, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself.
- What is stopping you from living authentically?
- Do you repeat old habits and mistakes, despite knowing their harmful effects and even resolving to stop making them?
- Do you break promises you make to yourself often and now you don’t think you may never get to that point where you are happy with your decisions?
- Do you say yes when you mean no and vice versa only to beat yourself up for not standing your ground?
- Do you have a hard time letting go of control?
- Would you rather do something for someone else than yourself, even if they could find help elsewhere?
- How about the times you’ve tried to run a self-assessment of what you have done and what you haven’t only to realize that you haven’t really done much for yourself and haven’t grown as much as you hoped All because you keep putting yourself at the back burner?
- And let’s not forget the classic — zoning out, scrolling social media for hours on end, learning nothing new and feeling terrible about all the wasted time.
Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, we have a non-medical diagnosis, we are suffering from a condition called self-abandonment.
What is self-abandonment?
Self-abandonment is considered a (conscious or unconscious) rejection of your thoughts, feelings, and even your needs. Whew!!! I didn’t expect these words to knock the air right off my lungs but they did. Not just because they are true, but because of the pain I keep putting myself through. In moments of silence, I’ve been reflective, and the first time I realized what I’ve been doing, I have been living in the trenches.
The saddest bit about all this is that over time, we are unable to identify with or make sense of our emotions because, in a way, we’re estranged from these emotions that make us, us. We abandon ourselves, quite literally, and instead become more and more absorbed in our distractions and addictive behaviors. We forget what it feels to be in our own skin and somehow can’t identify ourselves or know who we really are, until, if we’re lucky, a life-changing experience or someone jolts us back to reality and somehow remember fragments of who we were…who we really are.
This article I came across further noted that self abandonment happens when we seek external distractions when we are faced by strong emotions that call for our attention. An example that all of us, self-abandoners will nod along to is drinking or eating too much desert when we are lonely… We do so much more to ignore these important emotions, and we should invite the emotions instead.
In self-abandonment, we don’t self-soothe. Instead, we find someone or something else to take up responsibility for the difficult emotions we face. And by misdirecting our needs, thoughts, and emotions, we not only become overly dependent on or even addicted to these people or things, but also lose the chance to master ourselves.
Self-abandonment steals our joy and happiness and though we get a nice high from the temporary fixes, the serotonin high is not enough to make us happy or content in the long run. And so, unless we decide to stop taking shortcuts and choose to (kindly) face our emotions, feelings and address our needs when they come, unless we sit with these uncomfortable emotions, we’ll never live as our highest, most authentic selves. Something’s gotta give, and in the case of self-abandonment, we have to learn how to self-soothe and turn back to ourselves, to be better.
With self-abandonment also comes an addiction to pain and reliance on others, which is a rut you’ll only escape if you take time to practice these tips on overcoming self-abandonment. This might be the most difficult journey towards self-discovery and true happiness, but it’s one we must take.
Still confused? Unsure if you’re self-abandoning? Here are the common ways that self-abandonment presents as:
- People pleasing — we are all guilty of this.
- Not trusting yourself. So, second-guessing, ruminating, overthinking, ND letting other people make decisions for you.
- Giving up or hiding parts of yourself. This happens when you give up your interests or don’t do the things that make you… You because you’re afraid of judgment, failure, etc. Also, not sharing your goals and interests.
- Failing to honor your needs. Self care or grooming.
- Not speaking up for yourself
- Codependent relationship bonds
- Overlooking or ignoring your values
If you think that it’s time you got out of the background to the driver’s seat by addressing your issues, taking care of yourself, and just saying yes to yourself a lot more, these tips will help you a great deal.
How then do we overcome the perils of self-abandonment?
- Come to terms with the facts
We only notice this problem later in life, often when doing the work… When we’re becoming and practicing self-awareness. But did you know that self-abandonment is rooted in your childhood? It’s something you learn from things like emotional neglect, abuse, or invalidation. And it’s at this time that you learn to ignore your feelings to fit someone else’s comfort, or make yourself small and not say a thing to keep the peace.
These actions not only make us live in the shadows but also forbids us from ever learning it, understanding our emotions, feelings, needs, and thoughts, or what to do about them when they come up.
So first, apologize to your younger self for not knowing better. And stop being too hard on yourself. You know what’s going on now, and you can work on yourself from here.
2. Allow yourself to feel and need
This might seem like a foreign concept but it’s the first step to freedom, self-awareness, and self-actualization. Feel what you feel. Give yourself what you need (if healthy and affordable to you). Listen to your feelings for direction if you’re unsure. You could practice this daily by listening and writing down what you feel. And what you think you need at that time.
3. Self-soothing Skills — Learn how to take care of yourself
This is another big (and difficult) one. It is essentially finding healthier things to do to replace the previous bad habits.
If you feel hard things coming up, do something healthy instead of an extra bottle of wine, senseless scrolling, or watching trash TV.
Some of the things that may work for you include meditation, dancing to your favorite music, cooking, baking, cleaning, taking care of your plants, working out, reading, or doing absolutely nothing and maybe staring at the ceiling.
4. Practice self-compassion
Self-compassion is the antidote for self-abandonment. There’s really not more to it. You have to be kind and compassion to yourself. Like anyone suffering, you need all the love, comfort, and care, and right now, no one else can give these to you but yourself. Don’t minimize your feelings, and love yourself through the pain when you fail. Practice self love and gently allow yourself to get back up. Be kind and understanding to yourself, especially when confronted with personal failure.
Not sure where to start? Here are the basics of self compassion.
— First, notice when you’re beginning to struggle. Pain and muscle tightness are the common sensations that will tell you something is up- this could be loss or you may be facing a hard time.
— Secondly, remember that everyone suffers, makes mistakes, and faces difficult times. This helps you feel better because it keeps you connected to the rest of the world and you won’t feel inadequate in front of your friends or family.
— Lastly, be mindful and always aware of your negative thoughts and feelings.
5. Let out your quirky, creative self
You have it all in you… And that fun, weird or quirky part of you is in there somewhere. Let it out through dance, your outfits, hairstyles, passion projects, hobbies, interests, or anything else that makes you feel like you, that thing that makes you feel like you’re back home to yourself. Getting here may take a bit of time in self-discovery, especially if you’ve never really allowed yourself to be you, truly, but that side of you is there, somewhere. Be patient, try different things, and go with that thing that your heart desires the most.
6. Stand up for yourself
This is the other challenging thing to do, but you’re a tough cookie and you can do it. Don’t let your mind make you think that you don’t have it in you or that you will be judged. The truth is that someone will always have something to say and you can’t live life expecting to make everyone happy. When you speak up, your people will respect you more and you will be happier. If you don’t stand up for yourself, people will just walk all over you, which is what you have been trying to avoid in the first place. So, start today. Don’t keep quite if a ‘friend’ jokes about your body, hair, clothes, etc. Say something.
What else can you do?
- Learn to trust yourself and others.
- Find your calm center and access it when you feel off-balance
- Always communicate your needs in a relationship.
- Seek therapy.
In the end, we can all find freedom, lead happier lives, and show up as ourselves authentically, but only if we let go of the things that hold us back. So, show up courageously for yourself today, and do something that makes you happy and feel your best.
Don’t forget to breathe!