→ It’s a Friday night and you’ve come home from a long exhausting work week. A friend texts you complaining about her partner and despite wanting a quiet night in, you agree to meet her so she can vent some more.
→ You’re a founder and you regularly show up on social media to share your work but you only ever present your strengths and hide parts of you for fear of being judged or disapproved of, ‘appearing weak’ or losing credibility.
Each of these are a form of self abandonment, a learned behaviour that results in rejecting, suppressing or ignoring your own thoughts, feelings, needs and desires based on an unconscious belief that other people’s needs (and beliefs) are more important than your own.
This is something I have struggled with as a working mother. Recently I was working, I hadn’t eaten all day and one of my children came to me with a need and I snapped at them. Immediately feeling guilty, I stopped what I was doing and helped them, all the time pushing my own hunger down.
Self abandonment has many faces. It can also look like:
- Not trusting your instincts
- People pleasing
- Judging yourself
- Suppressing emotions
- Lacking boundaries
- Compromising your values
- Not speaking up for yourself to keep the peace
- Over delivering in your service
- Allowing yourself to be spoken to in ways you don’t like
- Making meaning from other’s choices and behaviour that says ‘It’s my fault, I’m not enough’
Socially, we reward people who abandon themselves for others (we even praise mothers for it!), but what many don’t realise is how toxic, contagious and pervasive it is.
Where does self abandonment come from?
Somewhere in childhood, you learned that in order to bond, or receive the presence you needed, you had to pretend you didn’t have needs and instead, meet someone else’s needs. You probably had parents who were busy, overwhelmed or simply didn’t have capacity to meet your emotional needs at the time you needed them to.
Fast forward to now. You are now an adult, fully capable of meeting your own needs, but you don’t. When a need arises, instead of paying attention to it and acting in your best interest, you minimise, distract or numb yourself.
What is confusing about self abandonment is that the motivation is good.
At the heart of self abandonment is a misguided attempt at connection.
But it’s the equivalent of throwing your phone away to make it easier for someone to reach you! Just like a phone call requires 2 fully functioning phones, true human connection requires 2 whole humans complete with their needs and wants, in a constant exchange of giving, taking and meeting one another.
If you don’t know what your needs are and you never bring them to the relationship, it will never feel like a genuine connection. You will never fully step into your own worthiness.
You are already a leader
Whether you’re a leader at work or not, you ARE the leader of your own life. There’s no escaping this. And if you’re abandoning parts of yourself, over time, you will lose the ability to identify what’s best for you.
This robs you and others of your full potency and presence. Oh the irony! Through dysfunctional ways of seeking connection, we block it.
Next week, I will share some of the ways you can break up with self abandonment. These have been the cornerstone of my own transformation and have come out of my 6 month immersion experience Woman of Influence. I am seeing incredible uplevelling in my clients through this work!
In Woman of Influence, they are:
- Overcoming shame and guilt
- Committing to honouring all of their needs
- Reconnecting with desires they didn’t know they had
- Coming up with their own strategies to get their needs met in healthy ways
- Feeling more seen, safe and secure – which is the foundation of all they desire, from rewarding relationships to a potent personal brand.
I am taking 10 women on the Woman of Influence journey from September. 4 of these 10 spots are already filled. If you would like to join us, there is an application process but we can just start with a casual conversation by hitting the button below.
I am taking 10 women on the Woman of Influence journey from September. 4 of these 10 spots are already filled. If you would like to join us, there is an application process but we can just start with a casual conversation by clicking this link and let’s talk.