I read an article yesterday on the Elephant Journal by Margaret Paul a well- respected relationship expert. In her 43 years of counselling couples and researching what creates loving and unloving relationships, she felt the main underlying cause of dysfunctional relationships boiled down to one thing, self-abandonment.
Her view on the reasons for self-abandonment are the following:
1. We judge ourselves rather than accept ourselves. We often do this to try and gain acceptance from others. We want others to like us and this can make us hard on ourselves, but sometimes this leads to seeking the need of approval from others in order to feel worthy.
2. We ignore our feelings by staying up in our head rather than being present in our body. We emotionally connect with each other from our hearts and souls, not from our heads. When you stay in your head as a way to avoid responsibility for your feelings, you cannot emotionally connect with your partner.
3. We make our partner or others responsible for our feelings. When we emotionally abandon ourselves, we then believe it is someone else’s job to make us feel loved and worthy. This can lead to criticism, blame, anger and controlling behaviour.
If we expect love from others in order to feel good about ourselves; we avoid our responsibility for self-care. By refusing to speak up for our needs and feelings we can head into conflict, disconnection and resentment and we may even turn to addictive substances in order to avoid dealing with our feelings.
If we want to avoid self-abandonment and feel worthy then we need to learn to respect who we are and what we need from our relationships. We need to listen to what our heart and soul are telling us. If we have a higher self-esteem and sense of self worth we can talk from the heart about how we feel and avoid the disconnection and resentment that can ruin what could be a healthy partnership.
Of course in some relationships we may learn that the partner is unable to meet our needs, but then it’s down to ourselves to make changes, even if that might mean in the end we need to let that relationship go.
In my next article I will talk about self-love and ways of avoiding emotional self-abandonment.