Overcoming fear of abandonment

Do you stay in relationships with a chronic fear that your partner will leave you, or engage in patterns of constant re-abandonment with unsuitable people? Or, perhaps you steer clear of relationships altogether as a way of avoiding your fear of abandonment? If this sounds familiar then you will know how debilitating it can be for the maintenance of your self-esteem and peace of mind.

Having a healthy emotional balance does not come about by chance. Sometimes, there are developmental ruptures in the stages of growing up from being an infant to becoming an adult. It can be a complex journey emerging into adult life and it is not uncommon to carry wounds from our early life into our so-called mature world. 

As children we learn to trust and to experience life through the protection offered by our primary care givers. However, developmental ruptures can occur when there has been some kind of trauma experienced which made us feel threatened and insecure. This may have happened from our parents getting divorced or being sent to grandparents to be looked after, or to a boarding school at a young age. A child can internalise that there is something wrong with them when there is a change of circumstances. A child needs to feel that they have a secure base in which to express themselves and to allow their creativity to flow. Having a secure base allows a child to explore and to take risks, such as seeking new friendships, as they are confident that their primary care givers (usually parents) will be there for them if they experience any rejection. Learning to overcome feelings of rejection is so important in a child’s development and the accompanying quality of resilience is vital for the development of healthy relationships. Crucially, a child will not fear abandonment.

Fearing abandonment can gradually occur when our secure base has been built on shaky foundations or where there has been some damage caused to our sense of what is safe and secure. Reviewing your personal history with a therapist can help to identify your emotional and psychological wounds and assess the negative impact on subsequent relationships. The work in therapy can be about building healthy reparative experiences so that you can begin to leave the past behind.

Liaisons may have been sought to cover up the scar but real healing can come about from unconditional self-love. Saying positive self-affirmations to yourself each day is a good starting point in the journey of transforming your way of being. Your uniqueness and special qualities will provide the insight to show you that you don’t need the validation from others in order to feel whole. You are enough on your own. Stay away from toxic people who do not have your interest at heart. Try to find compassion for yourself and stop seeking perfection.

Learning to confront your fears of abandonment, acknowledging your attachment style and identifying your outdated mental scripts can lead to a path of mastery. Once you start to rely on yourself, rather than on another, you begin to reclaim your power and your relationships will become more enriching.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London SE1 & SE26
Written by Noel Bell, MA, PG Dip Psych, UKCP
London SE1 & SE26

Noel Bell is a counsellor/psychotherapist based in London who has spent the past 20 years exploring and studying personal growth, recovery from addictions and inner transformation. Noel draws upon the most effective tools and techniques from the psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural (CBT), humanist, existential and transpersonal schools.

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