The fear of abandonment is a primal fear, which unfortunately for some of us; we cannot avoid it. It find us. It usually develops in childhood, when we don’t receive the love and the attention we needed from our parents. Experiencing emotional neglect and abuse during childhood, would be a perfect example of a trigger that could cause a fear of abandonment later in life. This scenario usually happens when children grow up in a dysfunctional home, where there is some kind of abuse present. Sometimes growing up with a narcissistic parent can also be a trigger for developing a fear of abandonment. These parents can punish children by gaslighting them and also giving them the silent treatment when they make a mistake or do something wrong, leaving them feeling lost, ashamed, unloved, unheard and ignored.
In some cases, this type of neglect doesn’t necessarily have to be caused by our parents, but it can also be triggered by social rejection, social segregation, bullying, shunning and social isolation by our peers; no matter what age we are. When we get rejected by the people who we thought liked us, we start to feel inferior, ashamed of ourselves and tell ourselves to believe that we are unlovable and unworthy of being liked and appreciated by others. This is where the destructive cycle of negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviour begins. I know this pattern very well because I have been there before myself, so I know exactly how this feels. Even to this day, I do sometimes have to go through feeling fearful of being abandoned. It’s a part of being human really, as no one is perfect at the end of the day.
This is why I have decided to write this post, is to not only help others that have difficulty dealing with a fear of abandonment, but myself too. I find writing about emotional issues helps me tremendously because it allows me to release something that has been currently bothering me. If you have a problem, like a fear of abandonment, remember to always talk to someone about it, never bottle up your emotions from others and suffer in silence, you deserve better than that. Dysfunctional and emotional behaviour such as codependency, excessive neediness, possessiveness, jealousy, anger, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, guilt, shame and self-sabotage are common symptoms of someone who has a fear of abandonment.
Scientific research shows that children who are continuously neglected, have neurological damage in their brain. When children are neglected on a regular basis, it can change the neurological pathways and signals in the developing brain, causing them to breakdown and eventually get cut off completely. This is probably why some adults who have experienced a lot of neglect early on in childhood, might have destructive behaviour and thought patterns, particularly in romantic and intimate relationships. Another thing that is common with people with a fear of abandonment, is that they tend to hop between dates because they believe that being single is lonely and they also hate being in their own company. They also rely on others to make themselves feel secure, validated and happy.
The key point here is not to completely iradicate the fear of abandonment, but to keep ourselves in a much more balanced psychological state when these feelings occur in our daily lives. Having a very small amount of fear due to abandonment is healthy and normal, because humans are designed to create connections and bonds with others, so we can survive as a species. Without bonding and connection, reproduction couldn’t exist and the whole human race would die out. It is connection that creates the world and society we know and think of today. There are ways of overcoming the fear of abandonment, which I’m going to talk about now.
Ways To Overcome The Fear of Abandonment
Build New Friendships With Others
Join a group at your local hostel, church, youth centre or community centre which you are interested in. This can be anything that sounds appealing to you. You could join a football club, play pool, practice painting, do arts and crafts, skateboarding anything you want to do. This is extremely important because allowing yourself to create new friendships by attending clubs and groups will help you overcome and diminish feelings of being lonely and abandoned. When you have more people in your life, you are less likely to get attached and fear about losing them in the future. Another reason a fear of abandonment may develop, is that sometimes we don’t have many connections and friendships in our lives and we fear we will end up losing the ones we already have.
Spend Time With The People Who Matter The Most
This can be your family, your partner or few of your close friends. When you spend time with close friends and loved ones, you are less likely to feel alone and forgotten. When you go through a heartbreak, although its tough, you always need to remember that you have your family and friends to turn to when you need emotional support and a shoulder to cry on. That’s what families and friends are for. True love and companionships stay with you no matter what life throws at you, they will always be there for you. If your friends don’t want to help you during tough times or distance themselves away from you, they are not your true friends. They are toxic people who are taking advantage of you and don’t really care about your physical, mental and emotional well-being. If you have friends like this, let them go. By hanging around people who don’t care about you, it will only make you feel worse and more lonely, misunderstood and abandoned.
Visualise Yourself In A Secure, Stable, Happy & Healthy Relationship With Your Current Partner (If You’re In A Relationship)
This is another very important step when you want to overcome the fear of abandonment. When you think negatively about the future of your current relationship, insecurities and emotional scars are much more likely to come to the surface, causing you to sabotage your relationship subconsciously and slowly push your partner away by doing destructive behaviour such as excessive neediness, worry, lack of trust and jealousy. By visualising and seeing yourself in a happy, secure and stable relationship, you start to trust yourself and your partner, making it feel more balanced and stable. Having faith in your partner, that they will never leave you, will give you reassurance and help keep anxiety at bay. This will help keep a sense of emotional security in your current relationship.
Realise That People Can Change
Sometimes, as tough as it can be to hear this, people who are in our lives right now may not be with us in the future. Over a period of time, some people can start to think and feel differently about us and decide to leave our lives and move on. I know this can be very hard to hear, especially if you have fallen in love with someone or they have passed away due to a serious illness or accident. Remember that the people you meet throughout your life, are there for a reason so you can learn about life, yourself and what you truly want. You also need to remember that there will always be someone else that will come along and appreciate you for who you are as a person. Do not feel bad about yourself or beat yourself up, accept what they want and feel and allow them to let go with love.
Limit Your Use On Social Media & Your Smartphone
In the 21st century, excessive smartphone usage and addiction to the internet and social media is becoming much more common than it’s ever has been, particularly in the younger generation. We are becoming so much more connected via technology, but at the same time technology can prevent us from socialising with others in person making us feel disconnected, lonely and not in the present moment. It is also very important to build your own life outside of the internet, social media and IM, because relying on those platforms for your happiness, will only make you life miserable. Your life doesn’t entirely revolve around Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. There is a much bigger world out there than just social media.
Partake in Hobbies & Activities You Enjoy
Get creative or play a game with someone! When you do things you enjoy, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, which is why we feel happy and stress free when we do things we love. This can be absolutely anything from watching your favourite movie or TV show, yoga, meditation, singing, playing a sport, creating artwork, cooking, acting etc.What is even better is to join a club, where there are new people who love to do the same things as you, which is where you can create new friendships.
Get Yourself A Furry Friend
Animals are great companions to have in our lives, and they can help many people who feel lonely, such as the elderly. Whether you are a cat or dog person, having a pet in your life can boost your health, make you happy, reduce stress and feelings of loneliness. You can also meet new people in different places, when you walk your puppy.
Get Professional Help If The Fear of Abandonment Is Greatly Affecting Your Life
If the fear of abandonment is substantially affecting your life, seek professional help from a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. You can also talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your mental health concerns. They can give you advice and refer you to a specialist who can give you an assessment to find out what is causing it.
The fear of abandonment is not an easy fear to overcome and it does require patience and resilience to combat it. You can do this and have faith in yourself. Don’t live a life that is in fear, because you’ll never be able to reach your full potential and live a care free and happy life.