Children of dysfunctional homes often end up repeating the same relationship patterns they learned early on, first of all with themselves. This is what feels safe and known; our nervous system and brain is still stuck in fight-or-flight mode and cannot distinguish toxic patterns from healthy ones. We practise self-abandonment before others do.
Did you have to adapt like a chameleon to survive, putting other people’s needs before your own?
You cannot expect more from others than you expect from yourself.
What does self-abandonment look like?
- not trusting and acting according to your instincts
We will suppress our needs, sometimes being completely unaware of them. We ignore bodily clues to go to the doctor, to take time off work or caring for others, to ultimately make sure we still feel wanted and needed. We learned to associate people pleasing with safety.
- self-criticism and perfectionism leaving no time for play
It is by exploring boundaries and venturing into unknown territories that we discover who we really are. If we are obsessed with appearing a certain way, we can never allow ourselves to be quirky, creative and silly. We give up our autonomy and individuality to fit in.
The journey of self-abandonment is a learned one, reinforced by repeating it over and over again until it feels like the only thing we have ever known.
With patience and compassion, we can learn to love ourselves in the true definition of the word love.
How to start being there for yourself:
- say no and stand by your boundaries
This will feel uncomfortable and cruel at first, but try flipping the tables. Would you judge someone for stating their feelings? You are not attacking anyone by laying bare where your limits are; if anything, you will make it easier for your loved ones to be there for you. Start practising to get out of your comfort zone to find your real one.
- allow others to dislike you
Nobody can be liked by everyone; try, and you will quickly be branded a fake. Don’t try hard to convert people to like you, this is a need to control other people’s feelings, and any kinship will be build on forced feelings. Find your real tribe by showing your flaws openly.
- come back into your body and connect with your feelings
Everybody has experienced some kind of trauma in their lives, and body numbness is one symptom of it. Mindfulness and yoga help, but simple check-ins throughout the day are much less intimidating and a great starting point. Are you able to name your feelings and pinpoint aches in your body? Give yourself permission to feel bad and to sit with those emotions without trying to change them.
The journey to a healthy loving relationship with your body and emotions is a long one, but so rewarding along the way. Do not give up on yourself, and remember:
Only you can abandon yourself.
Stand by the truest love you will ever know: yourself.
Here’s a beautiful poem of self-abandonment I found.