It is human nature to fear being abandoned. As children, this fear served a healthy purpose to connect you with caregivers and ensure that your needs were met. However, if you find yourself fearing abandonment in relationships as an adult, it might be time to take a look at the reasons behind this fear. In fact, abandonment fears usually arise from significant childhood losses.
Did you experience any of the following as a child or adolescent?
- Death of a loved one or cherished pet
- Moved into a different home in an unfamiliar neighborhood
- Physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse
- Lived with someone addicted to drugs and/or alcohol
- Divorce or separation of parents
- Parental detachment or emotional isolation
In addition to childhood experiences, losses in adulthood can cause abandonment fears. If you think past losses may be preventing you from developing authentic, healthy relationships, then keep reading! Discover how unresolved abandonment issues may be negatively impacting your relationships today, and explore ways to address these issues and heal.
Effects of Abandonment
The list above represents major life events which cause significant distress for most people. When they happen during childhood, the events are processed and interpreted through an imperfect filter – a child brain! This can result in the development of a belief system that may be inaccurate, but it feels so much like fact, you store it away as absolute truth.
You might believe:
- Everything you love is taken away in the end
- People can’t be trusted – even individuals who are supposed to be caretakers
- The world is scary and unpredictable
And if the loss occurred in adulthood, you may behave in ways that prevent you from forming and maintaining the quality relationships you crave.
You may protect yourself from being hurt by:
- Ending relationships quickly before they get serious – avoidance of being vulnerable with someone else
- Clinging too tightly in relationships – demanding constant reassurance of your partner’s love and commitment which ends up pushing him/her away
- Appearing standoffish/cocky/overconfident – you keep people away by wearing super-strength emotional armor
Hope and Healing through Therapy
Many people seek counseling to help them address problems which stem from personal experiences of abandonment. As a client, your therapist can help you explore experiences which may have contributed to your current issues and develop a personalized plan of action to foster healing, hope, and personal growth. Often clients report that the experience is transformative – learning to release past fears and limiting beliefs, and replace them with self-care, confidence, and effective interpersonal skills.
- Benefits reported with therapy:
- Increased self-esteem
- Improved communication skills
- Understanding/acceptance of past losses
- Learning self-care and self-compassion
- Ability to give and receive trust
- Understanding appropriate relationship boundaries
- Learning ways to manage fears
Are you ready for change? Why wait?