THE BLOG

How to Get Over Abandonment -- a Fast Track

01/27/2015 04:51pm ET | Updated March 29, 2015
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When something triggers our primal abandonment pain -- like a breakup, getting fired or rejected by school admissions, or dissed by a friend -- it can be so ferocious and debilitating that we'd do almost anything to get past it.

Some people have been know to fly across country to attend an abandonment workshop, arriving haggard, jet lagged, and desperate to wrest themselves from abandonment's death grip as fast as possible.

Although the magic bullet they are hoping for does not exist, abandonment workshops, both peer or professionally led, accelerate forward movement, in part by providing people the opportunity to share their abandonment scenarios with others in a purposeful way.

Whether people are struggling from a recent breakup or the impact of past abandonment trauma, they describe feeling broken -- damaged by primal fear that erupts volcanically within and causes them to self sabotage. In spite of their heartbreak, insecurity, and woundedness, they pitch in to help each other practice tools that help them benefit from abandonment rather than be diminished by it.

I just read a blog by Rebecca Adams that made me smile and think fondly of the folks from my last workshop at Esalen. The article cites Grace Larson, co-author of a study on the impact of parsing details of a breakup. It substantiates that sharing our abandonment situations helps speed recovery. When her subjects were given a chance to rehash their experiences with an interviewer they were able to regain self concept more quickly and fare better in other ways than those not given the opportunity.

An important finding was that subjects who reduced their use of the second person plural -- "we" and "us" -- and focused instead on their own experience and the challenges they face moving forward, demonstrated an easier time coping.

This really grabbed my attention. Since it is typical for both men and women to be obsessed with their abandonment situations and talk about them endlessly with any friends willing to listen, it seems they are doing what comes naturally to healing. But Larson's study shows that we can enhance the recovery benefits of this natural tendency by deemphasizing the "we" and "us" talk when referring to the failed relationship and emphasizing the "I" of the experience and what actions to take now.

The fast track is to attend abandonment recovery groups so that sharing can be mutual and goal directed. I know my Esalen group will feel an extra stroke to be reminded that by being good listeners, which they surely were, they help their group mates recover faster, all the while keeping their own personal journey from abandonment to healing on the "me" of "I."

© Susan Anderson Jan 25 2015