How Does Fear of Abandonment Show Up in Your Life and Relationships?
While some of us are intrinsically more self-sufficient than others, no one really likes to be completely on their own. We all need help from time-to-time. We all need a social circle of support to lean on (and few things feel better than being able to return the favor and offer support to our friends and loved ones). The majority of us prefer to be part of a close-knit circle of friends, and be on relatively good terms with our family members. Positive human interaction is pretty essential to our overall quality of life. Because we all share this common and innate desire, we are all afraid of abandonment on a certain level. None of us like to be socially rejected, and none of us like to be left alone. However, while we don’t like to be left alone, we typically understand that people will naturally come and go – friendships will fade, relationships will fail to work out, and moving on is simply a part of life.
Fear of Abandonment
While occasional and minor fear of abandonment is an expected part of life, those who are crippled by a frequent and intense fear may struggle to form healthy interpersonal relationships of any kind. Where does a severe fear of abandonment stem from? Like the majority of the emotional baggage we carry with us into adulthood, fear of abandonment often originates in early childhood. If we do not receive the emotional care and support that we need during the earliest stages of our development, we will grow up feeling as if we were forsaken; discarded by our primary caregivers, perhaps undeserving or unworthy of love. There are several reasons why our needs may not be met. Perhaps our parents were emotionally unavailable, or had to work long hours in order to stay afloat (leaving us alone to care for ourselves and our siblings). Perhaps a traumatic event, such as the death of a parent, left us feeling uncared for and alone.
No matter what the case, we adopted a negative core belief somewhere along the way: “I will lose anyone with whom I attempt to form a close, emotional attachment.”
Abandonment in Adulthood
It is important to note that although many of our emotional wounds are sustained during childhood, we can be challenged by feelings of abandonment during our adult lives. Those who lose a spouse or significant other to an unexpected accident or illness may begin to fear abandonment. Even those who are left during a separation or divorce may begin to develop the belief that emotional closeness equates to unavoidable pain. The harboring of this fear can lead to a host of serious psychological issues, ranging from low self-esteem to intimacy avoidance. Those who fear abandonment will often subconsciously gravitate towards romantic partners that reinforce negative core beliefs, leaving them in a vicious cycle of anxiety and loss.
Fortunately, there is help available to those who struggle to develop and maintain healthy and mutually beneficial relationships. Negative core beliefs can be smashed at any point in time, and even the most enduring fears can be resolved with some intensive therapeutic intervention.
When it comes to unresolved childhood trauma, it is crucial that an individual learns to separate the reality of the present moment from fears that have been dragged to the present from the past. When we experience fear, we may have no idea that our experiences are linked to old, unhealed wounds. We feel fear; we are afraid, and we react impulsively to alleviate these uncomfortable emotions as quickly as possible. However, if we work to heal these old wounds, we will open ourselves up to healthy and fulfilling relationships now – today. There are many therapeutic techniques that have been shown to help those struggling with fear of abandonment; techniques that the experienced and dedicated therapeutic staff at Next Chapter are proficient in utilizing. Some of these techniques include dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). Our staff members also work closely alongside patients in helping to instill a vital sense of self-compassion and self-worth.
As mentioned before, positive human interaction is a crucial component of a meaningful and joyous life. No matter how independent we deem ourselves, our lives will undeniably be richer if filled with authentic interpersonal connection. If you feel that you struggle to develop or sustain beneficial relationships, you may be battling an unresolved fear of abandonment. For more information on our therapeutic program of recovery, please contact us today.