As a transformational coach who has overcome my own struggles with self-abandonment, I understand how damaging this pattern can be. In this comprehensive guide, I will define self-abandonment, explain why it happens, and most importantly – provide solutions to stop abandoning yourself and start building self-trust.
Table Of Contents
What is Self-Abandonment?
Self-abandonment is when you consistently fail to support, validate, and care for yourself. It stems from low self-worth and manifests as not honoring your own needs, desires, feelings, and instincts.
You may ignore red flags in toxic relationships, forego basic self-care, suppress “unacceptable” emotions, or routinely put others’ needs before your own. Self-abandonment keeps you trapped in destructive patterns because you don’t feel worthy of better treatment.
The core components of self-abandonment are:
- Not trusting your intuition
- Excessive people-pleasing
- Self-criticism and judgment
- Neglecting your needs
- Hiding your feelings
- Enabling poor treatment from others
Where Does Self-Abandonment Come From?
Self-abandonment originates in childhood, especially if you grew up with emotionally unavailable, abusive, or narcissistic parents. You learned that your needs didn’t matter and that love had to be “earned.” This conditioned you to abandon yourself to gain conditional love and approval.
As an adult, self-abandonment persists due to low self-worth. On a subconscious level, you may feel:
- Undeserving of compassion and care
- That your needs are invalid or excessive
- That asserting yourself means losing relationships
- That you have to be perfect to be loved
Self-abandonment is a survival mechanism that you subconsciously cling to. But it keeps you trapped in vicious cycles of toxic relationships, perfectionism, and depression.
How Does Self-Abandonment Show Up?
Self-abandonment permeates nearly all aspects of life. Here are some examples:
- Relationships: Tolerating mistreatment, avoiding conflict, boundaries, and emotional intimacy.
- Work: Overworking to the detriment of health, never saying no, sacrificing work-life balance.
- Self-care: Neglecting sleep, nutrition, exercise, and leisure time. Not scheduling doctors’ appointments or taking time off when sick.
- Mental health: Judging thoughts and emotions. Using unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, and shopping to avoid emotions.
- Communication: Avoiding difficult conversations. Burying grievances and resentment.
The Vicious Cycle of Self-Abandonment
Like any maladaptive coping mechanism, the more you rely on self-abandonment, the worse you feel about yourself. This reinforces the toxic belief that you are undeserving of care and dignity.
As an example: you ignore an emotionally abusive comment from your partner to “keep the peace.” By not standing up for yourself, you feel cowardly and voiceless. This intensifies your sense of worthlessness, making it harder to set boundaries next time. Each act of self-abandonment tightens the grip it has on you.
The Costs of Self-Abandonment
Make no mistake – self-abandonment is extremely destructive in the long-term. It can lead to:
- Depression and anxiety
- Damaged self-esteem
- Toxic relationships
- Physical illness
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Work burnout
- Financial issues
- Self-harming behaviors
The Link with Depression
Chronic self-abandonment and depression fuel each other in a vicious cycle. When you’re depressed, you neglect self-care and boundaries. This worsens depression, as you deplete your resources and invite mistreatment.
Likewise, abandoning your needs and emotions intensifies depression. You lose touch with anything that brings joy and meaning. With no sense of self-worth, you lack the motivation to pursue a happier, healthier life.
Why It Ruins Relationships
People-pleasing and poor boundaries strain even healthy relationships. Partners may lose attraction and respect for you. Friendships become imbalanced as you give far more than you receive.
On the other hand, you’ll continually attract partners who exploit your lack of boundaries. Narcissists are adept at detecting and preying on those with poor self-worth.
The inability to address grievances also corrodes relationships. Unresolved resentment builds until you either explode in anger or abruptly cut ties.
Impact on Physical Health
Self-neglect and emotional repression also deteriorate physical health. Key issues include:
- Weakened immune system
- Digestive problems
- Cardiovascular strain
- Weight gain or loss
- Exhaustion and insomnia
- Accelerated aging
Chronic stress from abandoning yourself also triggers systemic inflammation, which underlies most chronic diseases. Furthermore, you’re unlikely to take action to address medical issues if you’re depressed and feel undeserving of care.
How to Stop Abandoning Yourself
The first step is radical and unconditional self-acceptance. All humans have needs, flaws, and inherent worth – including you. Any rationale you have for self-abandonment is rooted in distorted thinking.
Building self-trust and self-care habits retrains your brain to value and prioritize yourself. Be compassionate through the process – change won’t happen overnight after a lifetime of abandonment.
Self-validation builds self-trust by proving you’ll support yourself no matter what. It simply means accepting your thoughts, needs, and emotions without judgment or criticism. Here’s how to self-validate:
- Identify your emotions: Name what you’re feeling without judging or minimizing.
- Meet unmet needs: Ask yourself “What do I need right now?” and take action.
- Set aside self-criticism: Respond to negative self-talk with “I’m doing the best I can right now.”
- Tolerate discomfort: Don’t avoid or numb difficult emotions. Let yourself fully experience them.
Practice Mindful Self-Care
Mindful self-care means noticing your needs and meeting them with the same care you’d show a loved one. Physical, emotional, spiritual, social – no need is “selfish” if neglecting it harms you.
Build a self-care routine with activities like:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating nutritious meals
- Setting boundaries
- Doing hobbies you enjoy
- Spending time outdoors
- Practicing mindfulness
- Seeing supportive friends
- Going to therapy
Boundaries limit how others can treat you. They communicate what behaviors you will and won’t accept. Boundaries rebuild self-trust by proving you’ll stand up for yourself.
Start small by saying “no” to seemingly minor requests that upset you. Or have honest talks with those who regularly violate your boundaries. Over time you’ll gain the confidence to set firmer boundaries around abuse and exploitation.
Allow All Emotions
Stop judging emotions as “negative” or “unacceptable.” Allow yourself to fully experience them while responding skillfully. This builds trust that you can handle discomfort.
Develop emotional awareness through journaling, meditation, and talking to supportive friends and therapists. The goal isn’t to avoid emotions but process them in a healthy way.
Low self-esteem fuels self-abandonment. It shrinks your perspective so you see challenges as impossible to handle. Building self-esteem expands your outlook so setbacks feel manageable.
Some self-esteem boosting tips:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Celebrate daily accomplishments
- Engage in the company of positive and supportive people
- Avoid toxic people who insult you
- Do esteemable acts and practice self-care
- Try cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Healing from self-abandonment requires relearning how to care for yourself. Supportive friends, therapists, coaches, and support groups can guide you.
Transformational coaching provides tools to build self-compassion, set boundaries, and stop neglecting yourself. Support groups connect you with others working to overcome self-abandonment.
Self-abandonment stems from the flawed belief that you’re undeserving of compassion and dignity. It manifests as chronic self-neglect and destruction in a tragically misguided attempt to earn conditional love.
But your needs and emotions are valid – and tolerating poor treatment doesn’t make you “good.” You are worthy of happiness, health, and loving relationships.
Healing self-abandonment requires reparenting yourself with unconditional compassion. Be patient through setbacks, and in time self-care will become second nature.
The key is realizing your intrinsic worth. There is no thought, feeling or action that makes you undeserving of love – especially not from yourself.