What is Self Abandonment?

self abandonment - man sitting alone with head hanging down

There’s a lot of information out there about abandonment issues, but what about self abandonment? And why is self abandonment a problem?

Abandonment issues are essentially the fear of being left. Usually because an important figure was not present when you were young. The way this shows up is through having an anxious attachment. See our previous post about this HERE.  

However, self-abandonment is a little different than having general abandonment issues so let’s break it down for easier understanding.


What is self abandonment?

Self-abandonment is basically when you disregard or neglect your own needs, wants or feelings. Maybe you feel like you don’t really matter or maybe you think other people are more important so you put their needs above yours. 

“Self-abandonment can take on the form of ignoring, or not trusting, our deepest instincts. This can look like dismissing gut feelings, constantly deferring to others to make the ‘right’ decisions, and second-guessing everything we do.” (Ahmed, Sarah. “Everything you Need to Know about Self-Abandonment”. Well Nest. April 8, 2021. https://www.wellnest.ca/post/here-is-why-you-self-abandon)

There are lots of other ways that self-abandonment can present for individuals, like hiding who you really are or how you feel about certain things, constantly blaming yourself or judging yourself harshly, or always focusing on pleasing others even if it’s at your own expense. 

This behavior is usually learned in childhood as a result of emotional neglect because skills on how to take care of yourself and manage emotions in a positive way are not developed.  Fortunately, this behavior can be unlearned and you can develop skills to deal with difficult emotions at any age or stage in life.  (Gigante, Amanda. “What is Self-Abandonment”. The Center for Growth. https://www.thecenterforgrowth.com/tips/what-is-self-abandonment)


How it impacts you

Self-abandonment can result in low self-esteem.  If you dismiss your own feelings on a regular basis then you are not valuing your opinion or prioritizing what is important to you which can make you feel like you don’t matter and are not worthy of love or attention.  

Another result of this behavior can be turning to unhealthy coping habits.

“Self-abandonment can lead to addictive behavior like over-using substances, or spending hours “zoning out” on social media. If we feel an unbearable emotion and we don’t have the resources to manage it, we might grab for something to dull the pain.” (Gigante, Amanda. “What is Self-Abandonment”. The Center for Growth. https://www.thecenterforgrowth.com/tips/what-is-self-abandonment)

Coping in this way will keep you from truly handling problems that you are experiencing so you can move forward. 

Self-abandonment can also prevent you from developing deep, meaningful relationships with others.  If you are always trying to please your partner, friend, co-worker, etc. the relationship will be one sided and remain at surface level.  In order to have a healthy relationship with someone you have to get to know one another for who they really are and they will never get to know you if you are hiding how you really feel or what you really want.

Self-love is the opposite of self-abandonment and learning to love yourself will help you heal.


Ways to heal self abandonment

First, it’s important to acknowledge that your feelings and needs are just as important as the feelings and needs of others.  It’s not selfish to love and take care of yourself, actually it’s necessary!

You can build on this by learning to allow your emotions, learning to set boundaries that honor your peace and learning to speak up or advocate for yourself. 

These things are not easy, especially in the beginning.  And, they are essential to honoring yourself.  These are some basic skills we teach in therapy.  And, it’s helpful to work with a therapist so that you can see and work through what gets in the way of being able to honor yourself.  (Menjivar, Jackie. “What is self-abandonment? STOP PUTTING EVERYONE ELSE’S NEEDS BEFORE YOUR OWN”. I Don’t Mind. August 19, 2022. https://idontmind.com/journal/what-is-self-abandonment)

Learning to take care of yourself by placing value on how you feel and what is important to you may take some practice. If you need help working through self-abandoning behaviors, contact us, we are here to help.


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