Self-abandonment is a learned behavior — and a bad one at that.
When you abandon yourself, you are ultimately neglecting your own needs, wants, and emotional and physical well-being. This stems from self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a desire to please others. When you abandon yourself, you aren’t valuing yourself.
Here are some signs you are abandoning yourself (and how to stop):
Not trusting yourself.
You might be an overthinker. You second-guess every action and decision you make, afraid it will be wrong or that someone will judge you for it.
Stop putting all your faith in others — they aren’t always right and you aren’t always wrong. It’s normal to not know how to trust your gut — especially when you have anxiety — but it’s important to take the steps so that one day you can. Try saying positive self-talk in the mirror. You’re smart. You know what you’re doing. You’re right. It’s okay.
Suppressing your feelings.
You don’t talk about your emotions because you don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable and you don’t want them to judge you, either. When you don’t value your emotions, you are ultimately abandoning yourself.
Next time someone hurts your feelings, tell them. Instead of swallowing everything you want to say, speak up about it. Next time you feel angry, engage in an activity to get that energy out, like going for a run, taking a shower, screaming into a pillow. Or talk to a therapist. Next time you feel anxious or lost or sad, journal. Or, again, talk to a therapist or a loved one who is willing and has the capacity to listen and offer advice.
You can’t expect your feelings to go away just because you pretend they don’t exist. You can’t keep invalidating your feelings and tucking them away — they will be so bottled up and you will become exhausted or overwhelmed that you can’t make space for anything or anyone anymore.
Being a self-critical perfectionist.
When you are deeply critical of yourself or when you claim to be a “perfectionist”, you are ultimately abandoning yourself. You set these high expectations and standards for yourself, criticizing every flaw and mistake along the way. And then when you don’t meet those expectations, you are incredibly self-critical. Or, when you do meet those expectations, you are still quite harsh towards yourself. I should’ve tried harder. I should’ve done more. What I did wasn’t good enough, I can do better. Never believing that anything you do is good enough is ultimately self-abandonment.
People-pleasing is a tendency to put other people’s needs, desires, and emotions before your own. You want to avoid a fight and want to keep the peace, so you pretend everything is fine. You don’t want to make anyone upset or uncomfortable. You don’t want anyone to judge you or believe that you’re needy and greedy and annoying. You don’t set boundaries, out of fear that it will make someone upset. You will go to great lengths to blend in with a group, and in doing so, you ultimately abandon yourself.
Say this to yourself, over and over again, until it sinks in: I am not a burden. I have needs too and I deserve to have those needs met.
You’re not a burden. You’re not needy or annoying. You’re allowed to be upset and to rock the boat sometimes, especially if something or someone hurts you. You don’t have to pretend like everything is fine. You are not selfish for wanting to choose yourself and putting your needs first.