Unfortunately, abandoning ourselves emotionally is an all too common occurrence in our American culture. We exist in an environment that is not always supportive of our sensitive emotional needs. It is a culture that values what we accomplish more than who we are. Our tender emotions get easily crushed in a culture that is so harsh, authoritarian, and punitive. In such a climate we are not encouraged or taught how to access our full being.
Also, many of us learned to abandon our emotions early in our childhood. As children we all need to feel cared for and adored. To feel adored means we belong and we can trust our caregivers. When we trust our caregivers, we learn that we can trust the Love that is in our own Core Being.
When we experience negation rather than adoration from our parents or they were emotional neglectful and/or abusive, we begin to separate ourselves from the Core of who we are. This is the primary cause of emotional trauma. Our journey back to our Core and Naked Soul then has to include trauma repair.
Since many of us did not learn healthy ways to care for ourselves emotionally in our formative years, as adults we don’t know how to give ourselves self-compassion. In our misguided attempt to cope with our feelings, we may repeat with ourselves the harsh patterns we learned from our parents or our cultural conditioning. Or we may stuff down our feelings and pretend they doesn’t exist. Either way we further abandon that part of us that needs our attention the most. Then we wonder why we become sad, anxious, ashamed of our “negativity,” have broken relationships, and addictions.
Let Self-Compassion Bring You Home to Yourself
What can we do to stop our emotional self-abandonment and turn it around to healthy self-compassion? Here are some steps we can take:
Realize we are not deficient, mentally ill, or a failure if we are struggling with emotional pain. Struggling is a normal part of the human development process.
Realize it’s not our fault that we did not receive proper emotional nurturing as children and that our culture is harsh, punitive, and hyper-competitive. It is up to us as adults, though, to become aware of the emotional patterns we learned from our family and cultural conditioning. This awareness gives us an opening to evolve beyond our conditioning.
Practice self-compassion exercises. Here are a several to get you started:
Write a brief statement about one of your earliest memories of feeling abandoned.
About how old were you when you had this experience?
Describe it in as much detail as you can remember, including how you felt and how your caregivers responded or didn’t respond to you.
Express to yourself how it makes you feel to realize you didn’t get what you needed from your caregivers when you needed it most. (Note: It’s alright and normal to acknowledge your true emotions to yourself. Getting in touch with these feelings is not the same as acting on them.)
Give an outer expression to your emotions of childhood abandonment through your chosen art form such as journaling, poetry, drawing, painting, etc.
Release pent up emotions from your body in a safe way, such as pounding your fist on a pillow, screaming in the car, kick boxing, etc.
See your current adult Self, responding with compassion to your hurting child as you wished your parents had responded. This helps you become the “parent of your dreams.”
Notice when you fall into old patterns of self-shaming. Bring the part of you that is still hurting into your heart for soothing support. (Note: It also may be helpful to hug a pillow or stuffed animal to feel the tactile sensation of comforting yourself.) Over time, repeating this exercise can help you override your past self-shaming pattern.
Take advantage of our FREE mentoring consultation session. The Journey Quest offers this session to help you get back on track and begin the process of increasing your emotional resilience
See also bog post, Practice Daily Self-Compassion.