A history of abandonment can cause even the most successful clients to question virtually every social interaction.
So how can we help these clients move forward with confidence – both in their relationships and within themselves?
In the video below, Joan Borysenko, PhD shares the strategy she used to help one client overcome patterns of insecurity in his relationships, despite his fear of abandonment.
Take a look.
And so here’s what that would mean, there was ambiguity for Roger, “Am I liked or not.” Then he would project his abandonment issue onto the situation and decide, most usually, that he had been ignored or patronized or disrespected. And so he learned just to name that, “There it is. Here’s abandonment, and that’s what my story is about. It’s an abandonment story and it comes up all the time and it feels absolutely real. But I have to question it because clearly it’s not always real.” So that just learning to question the story by naming it, there it is. The abandonment issue was terrific, because it does come down the amygdala and it creates a space for curiosity to be a little bit more mindful. Even if I really think I was being dissed, there’s just a possibility I have to entertain that maybe I wasn’t.
So then the next stage is to say what Roger would say, he’d remind himself, “This is something that creates a problem in my life. It’s difficult for my wife. It’s a point of conflict and I need to heal it.” So that’s kind of a reframe. It’s like, “Okay, I’m going to do this because I have to heal this pattern.” And then finally, the claiming part. He claimed the ambiguity by saying, “The truth is, I’m not sure whether this person liked me or not, but whether they did or not, it all comes down to me. Do I like myself? And can I claim that I’m a good person regardless of what other people think of me? And he put it up on a piece of paper, he told me, and he hung it on his office wall, what to do when the abandonment story comes up. So, there you go.
For more expert strategies on working with the fear of abandonment, check out this course featuring Steven Hayes, PhD; Peter Levine, PhD; Bessel van der Kolk, MD; Dan Siegel, MD; Shelly Harrell, PhD; and more.
Now I’d like to hear from you. How have you worked with abandonment in your practice? Let us know in the comments below.