anxiety therapy, borderline personality disorder, highly sensitive person, online therapy, relationships

Fear of Abandonment

The Abandonment Cycle Looks Like:

You meet someone new and tell yourself not to get attached.

So you avoid getting close and opening up.

You end up getting so close you’re deeply attached and invested.

Then you get scared they’ll see through you, realize you’re not worth their time, and leave you.

So you push them away first. That way they can’t hurt you.

But that leaves you alone and abandoned anyway.

How To Handle Abandonment Thoughts

Separate Yourself From Your Thoughts

Let’s start off by getting some distance. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that these thoughts are natural and they’re okay. They’re uncomfortable, but they’re not dangerous. Thoughts come and go, and abandonment thoughts are no different. Breathe deeply, noticing how your body feels. Observe any physical reactions you’re having. Describe the feelings like you’re explaining them to an outside observer who’s never felt them before.

Look At The Facts

Next, describe the facts of the situation to yourself. Just the facts, no interpretation. Our minds naturally want to fill in the gaps to guess what might be going on, but our minds also want to keep us safe by preparing for the worst case scenario. Just the facts. These examples can help you identify the difference between facts and interpretation.

  • I texted her an hour ago and she still hasn’t responded. She must hate me.
  • My friends were out having fun without me. I found out on Instagram. I feel sad, like they just don’t care.
  • I lost my last best friend and it was very traumatic. Those thoughts come up when my new friends don’t make plans with me on our days off. It’s inevitable that I’ll eventually lose them too.

Pause And Find Calm

After you’ve explored the facts, freeze your actions until you can decide what to do from a place of calm. In the moment, your mind can come up with a lot of ideas about what you can do to make sure your friends don’t abandon you. But when you take a step back, some of those ideas aren’t helpful and may even be harmful to your friendships. Our minds don’t make great decisions when we’re stressed, anxious, and desperate.

Act Intentionally From Your Values

Once you’re calm, you can evaluate your choices. Try to notice which choices seem like emotional reactions and which seem like they’re aligned with your values. Check in with your body to make sure you’re still feeling calm as you explore your options. It can help to imagine that you’re offering advice to a friend or family member so the situation feels less personal. Once you’ve settled on a choice, consider the possible outcomes. How do you think your friends will react if you take that action? Will it get you what you want? Is there a possibility it might make things worse? Do you think you’ll agree with your choice tomorrow?

Follow Up With Your Choices

In the moment, it’s difficult to really know what’s going to happen. That’s why it’s important to go back and look at what the results were after the fact. A few days or weeks after you make a choice, take some time to really explore the actual outcomes. Were your ideas of possible outcomes correct? Did it work out how you wanted? What unexpected things came up?

This follow up is NOT meant as an exercise in shame. If you find your thoughts turning to shame, blame, and negativity, reset! We’re looking just at the facts, no judgment. You need to look at the parts that went wrong so you can do something different next time. Usually, you’ll notice that you’re getting stuck on one part of this process more than others. When you notice your patterns, you can create change.

Help For Abandonment

It’s possible to heal your fear of abandonment. You can grow into safe, secure attachment in your relationships. If you’re in California and you’re ready to get started healing your fears of abandonment, contact me to schedule a free consultation or click here to learn more about me.

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