Do you abandon yourself? Here's the why and how to fix it

Do you abandon yourself? It's actually an old belief that causes you to do this, which I'll explain more about in this article, and I'll also discuss how you can fix it.


What is at the core of it?

Not being seen.

That, put simply, is a trauma.

Not being heard, not being known and not being understood are other reasons why you may abandon yourself. I will further add that not being touched also causes trauma.

Trauma is not just what occurs from huge events. It is also about emotional deprivation and the added belief that your feelings – that you have no vocabulary for – were not historically even acknowledged or nurtured, so they went underground and where you believe, not feel, that the pain is an indication of something to hide, to be ashamed of. When, in actual fact, it is far more about what you never received and the story you create around that.

Why do we self-abandon? 

Usually, when we self-abandon, we are unaware of it. It becomes automatic because, if you come from a background where your authentic self was lost and shut down through needing to secure love and care from your parents or early caregivers, it is pretty likely that this pattern is perpetuated well into adulthood.

So, when we learn in early childhood that in order to gain acceptance or approval or both, we need to fragment ourselves to ensure that we get our needs met. It becomes 'natural' to be paradoxically 'unnatural', and untrue to ourselves in lieu of acceptance.

Is this ringing any bells?

As children, we live in a feeling world. We have no rationale that we can access, so we believe that if something occurs and it's bad it is because of us, so we adapt, we find coping mechanisms, ways that assure our safety that are self-abandoning.

Sadly though, we never really get the feeling of belonging and acceptance from behaving this way, because we hide our true nature to gain what can only ever be a fleeting calm, until of course the next time we have to self-abandon all over again. Others have no sense of what our boundaries are, and actually neither do we. Energetically, others can 'sense' this and consequentially we are often at the end of ill-considered treatment.

How we change this


As l am a great believer in 'awareness' to precipitate real change, like anything else, if we bring this into our awareness arena, we are already on the road to changing this habit that really doesn't serve us. Awareness is always the first step, so fear not.

Of course, socially, to get along with others we must be sociable and telling all and sundry our true feelings is not either necessary or appropriate, however, when real pieces of ourselves are screaming at us to be heard, and we are keeping silent to avoid a disagreement, we are swallowing our own truth, which will end up affecting our mental health and showing up as anxiety or depression, and/or become something physical. Probably both. Who wants that?!

Here l am also writing from personal experience as well as my professional one. Believe me, your body will go into physical and mental protest if you do this for long enough, because if you learned early on that your opinion or feelings were not met with favour (which back then could have ultimately resulted in either real or felt abandonment) you will not feel naturally comfortable around the exposure of your truth, or sometimes not truly even know what your truth is. Cognitive awareness and felt awareness are not the same, and although cognition is totally valuable it is, however, what is felt that becomes our path to change.

When we cannot navigate our own internal emotional territory by true recognition, this all too often puts us in direct line to rely on turning to others for their radar and opinions, so we go outside ourselves to solve, to discuss, bypassing self-reliance, so we never get to know what we could be capable of in exchange – pretty much mirroring the disconnect we experienced as children, when wearing others colours to fit in first began, we never got to know who we were, and then consequently who we are. Frozen or fawning or avoiding we jump our 'own ship'. This learning of how to gauge our own emotional responses goes such a long way to healing and positive change.

Self-reliance has to be gradually learned and felt.

Therapy goes a long way to helping us change this through realisation. It is however my experience that all too sadly many trainee therapists deal with tidying up symptoms, but they may never address the causation.

Listen to your body

If you feel ill at ease when you say yes or no to something, like your heart beats faster or you feel yourself 'knotting up', odds are you are self-abandoning, and alongside this, there will be, potentially, resentment – either directed at yourself or the other person, or both – anger, a dive in your self-respect and not much that will make you feel either comfortable or good!

Avoid the cycle of doing this again and again

How many times have you walked away from some kind of exchange, when you feel like you let yourself down again, and for what? Short-term gain by keeping the peace, sadly, is coupled with long-term misery. You have every right to kindly and politely point out where your boundary lies, and what you are uncomfortable with. Otherwise, you are going to be way more prone to seek out unhealthy ways to comfort yourself, like drinking too much alcohol, comfort eating foods that aren't really good for you, or shopping... to mention but a few, just to calm your central nervous system.

When we are calm and centred our nervous system isn't triggered. When we suppress we have to eventually release, and this kind of venting truly complicates things for us in the long term. In other words, it just doesn't work if it is directed via blaming either oneself or others.


This is the key to begin unravelling to begin healing.

What goes on here is that we end up putting others in the position of perpetual power over how we show up. Then it becomes down to them to give us the love and approval that we take away from ourselves and being able to insource (our being able to love and approve of ourselves). When we outsource, we ramp up our dependency and we lose, we lose so much on the reliance of being able to truly self-care.

Truth is, we already have what we think only others can give us.

By showing up authentically, believe me, others will sense the healthy boundary you employ. Whether they like it or not. It won't be felt as negotiable by them, and you will feel a wholeness that gets easier every time.

After a while, it will become second nature. At first, it is like any new exercise, it will be uncomfortable for a little while until your body re-adjusts. We end up believing in ourselves and realising it is not necessary to hide away in exchange for outside outsourced approval. Here we gain not only our own self-respect but others think twice about overstepping our boundaries.

The possible change and freedom found and felt are extraordinary.

So how do you learn to show up for yourself? 

Here's how:

For at least three weeks, plan to set yourself achievable goals and make sure you stick to them.

Do try to avoid making a plan to do something that is unsustainable, so if walking for 30 minutes is possible, it's better to do that than plan to go on a daily two-hour hike. They can be as small as you like, but the key is to stick to them and not let yourself down. This starts to promote trusting yourself.

When you begin to experience the feeling of self-reliance, you will become more confident in self-reliance. Slowly it will become more 'go to' than outsourcing.

Experienced small change and victory builds and is gold to those of us who tend to self-abandon. It makes us feel, not react and allow our feelings to navigate our response, not resorting to react. This allows us to also feel proud of ourselves, as well as not going into a trauma response.

This, accompanied by learning more about our triggers and our attachment styles, will also help us recognise when we are in an old learned response or reaction. We can then have a contingency plan that is of self-care. We then become less reactive and less likely to give our power away.

Try not to identify with the lack of self-esteem or lack of self-belief. It's not who you are... it is your response to what caused it, and that is so hard to remember and what l teach in my coaching but often fail to remember this myself. When we are caught up in things – it is hard not to – we can do things that make us dislike ourselves which of course compounds the whole thing.

I explore people's emotional history and their environment often just by hearing what someone is having difficulty with l can tell what is likely to have caused it. Then we can rewrite our understanding of the story behind it and experience this with our rationale.

The possible change and freedom found and felt are extraordinary.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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