Are you feeling used, exhausted, depleted and resentful? Do you diminish or dismiss your feelings because you think they don't matter? Are you a chameleon, changing yourself to fit in with others? Do you put everyone's needs before your own? If so, you may be abandoning yourself.
Self-abandonment begins in childhood. It's likely that your parents or caregivers didn't meet your emotional and/or physical needs in your childhood causing you to feel unworthy and unlovable and not good enough. Self-abandonment can also occur or worsen while being in a relationship with a person with narcissistic tendencies.
We abandon ourselves when we don't value ourselves, when we don't act in our own best interest, and when we don't encourage, praise, or respect ourselves. This is a learned behavior and something we used as children in an attempt to avoid pain when living in a dysfunctional, abusive, or unpredictable family environment. We chose to fade into the back ground, not speak up for our own needs, and put the needs of others first in order to "keep the peace." While this may have served us as children it is no longer serving us as adults.
Here are some examples of ways in which we abandon ourselves:
Not trusting our instincts; second-guessing ourselves, overthinking and allowing others to make decisions for us..
Codependent relationships; focusing on someone else's needs, wants, and problems and neglecting ourselves.
Self-criticism and judgment; saying hurtful and mean things to ourselves when we don't meet our own perfectionist standards, such as " how could I be so stupid?"
Not honoring our needs; not recognizing that our needs are valid and feeling unworthy of self care..
Suppressing our feelings; avoiding our feelings by using alcohol or food, or drugs to numb the feelings or "check out".
People-pleasing; suppressing our needs and interests in order to please others, and continually doing nice things for other people. Saying "yes" when we want to say "no!"
Hiding parts of ourselves; not sharing our feelings about things and giving up hobbies and doing what others want to do instead. .
Perfectionism; never feeling worthy regardless of how much we do and what we accomplish, and setting impossibly high standards for ourselves that are often unattainable.
Compromising our values; doing things to please others even if they go against our beliefs, morals and values.
Not speaking up for ourselves: not asking for what it is that we need, not setting and enforcing boundaries with people, and allowing them to take advantage of us.
How do we stop abandoning ourselves? It all starts with cultivating a loving relationship with ourselves. We get to choose to start speaking up for what we want, instead of allowing others to make decisions in our lives. We can become intentional about learning how to label our feelings and allowing ourselves to feel that emotion; this will go a long way towards learning how to trust ourselves. We can practice being mindful to stay present with feelings and not run away from the feelings we are having and purposefully choosing to give ourselves what it is that we need at that time. We can get comfortable with the fact that we are perfectly imperfect and start loving ourselves for our differences, quirks, and mistakes. We all do the best we can do at any given time and need to show ourselves compassion. Not everyone is going to like us and that is OK!
If you are feeling out of touch with who you are and have forgotten your preferences, spend some time experimenting with different styles and clothes until you find one that feels like the true you! Wear the clothes you love, dress the way that makes you happy, and wear your purple hair with pride if that is how you want to look! Try different hobbies until you discover something you love. Try different foods, read some books on subjects you have never learned about, or listen to different music or podcasts and rediscover who you are!
Starting the journey to honor yourself can be scary, but if you start by being kind to yourself and remind yourself daily that your thoughts, feelings, and opinions matter it is a great place to start. Start by saying no to things you do not want to do. Eventually you will be able to prioritize your self-care, do what you want to do instead of always pleasing others, set boundaries without feeling guilty, and call out people who are being disrespectful to you because eventually you will know that YOU MATTER!