For many people, falling in love means becoming more vulnerable. It arouses our primal abandonment fear. It bubbles up from the deep, giving rise to feelings of insecurity that can cause some of us to become needy, clingy, or demanding, and others angry, frozen, or avoidant.
To believe that your abandonment issues are blocking you from succeeding at love is a painful dilemma share by millions of people. Much of what they go through doesn't show on the outside. They may feel hopeless about ever overcoming their patterns of self-sabotage, believe something is fundamentally wrong with them, that they are condemned to eternal aloneness, and yet lead normal lives in every other way. Outwardly they seem happy and well-adjusted, while inwardly struggling with intrusive anxiety that interferes in their relationships. They range from glamorous celebrities to everyday people.
No matter how overwhelming your insecurity can get at times, no matter how longstanding your self-defeating patterns, no matter how severe your abandonment traumas from the past, there is a way out of isolation and into greater love and healthy lasting relationships. Here are 12 things to know on your path to recovery:
1) It is a knee-jerk reaction to rebuke yourself for not being able to control the powerful emotions that disrupt your love-life. But self-anger is part of the problem; it creates a vicious cycle that intensifies your anxiety and lowers your self-esteem quotient.
2) To avoid the quicksand of self-anger, recognize you are not alone in this: We all have abandonment issues that interfere. It's how we handle them that makes a difference.
3) Directing your anger toward your primal emotions means you are blaming your problems on the most vulnerable part of you -- your "inner child." This exacerbates its inner wound.
4) To radically change your life, you must create a healthy new relationship with yourself. This begins by listening to the needs and feelings of your abandoned inner child. We all have this child residing within us that not our blame and criticism, but our most tender loving care.
5) Make a commitment to radically accept and unconditionally love your inner child as the emotional center of yourself. Its feelings may be messy and inconvenient sometimes, but your task is to embrace it and reassure it as you would any wounded child.
6) Self-acceptance does not always happen by osmosis. For many, it takes a deliberate effort. There is a program of hands-on tools that help you to take positive actions toward yourself that inculcate self-love. They act like physical therapy for the brain, incrementally strengthening self-acceptance.
7) Instead of beating yourself up for having intense feelings, accept the fact that they are involuntary. They are not your fault, not a sign of weakness. They come unbidden as a part of being human. Your intrusive emotions say more about traumas that may have happened to you than about your worthiness.
8) Although you can't flick a switch to make them go away, you can start administering to them through step by step actions, through consistent use of abandonment recovery tools.
9) Once you learn the skills of practicing self-acceptance and self-love, you free your partner from the pressure to meet your primal needs. Changing this one thing changes everything.
10) It's all about taking radical responsibility for yourself. It's nobody else's job but yours to make you feel secure. The tools help you give reassurance, acceptance, and love directly to yourself. This takes our partner out of the insecurity loop, and restores freedom to the relationship.
11) Recognize that in adulthood all abandonment is self-abandonment. You reverse self-abandonment when you adopt your "abandoned inner child" in this way. Commit to take exquisite care of its needs for acceptance, security, and fulfillment, rather than leave it up to someone else to do.
12) Administering to your own most vulnerable feelings helps you become emotionally self-possessed and capable of healthy relationship.