Autophobia Part II

   Written by on October 12, 2017 at 11:37 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Last week we talked about autophobia or the fear of abandonment.  Abandonment can be devastating and leave a debilitating emotional imprint.  A fear of abandonment paralyzes and sabotages the ability to form normal relationships.  However, you have the choice to pursue wellness.  If you want to heal, it starts with your decision to face your fear.  Here are several practical ways to begin facing your fear of abandonment.

First, understand your story.  Do you know why you have a fear of abandonment?  Something significant happened to you, and therefore it deserves to be recognized.  The first step in healing is to discover why this fear affects you to the extent that it does.  Clearly understanding the situation that created these fears provides the foundation to dealing with your fear.

Understanding what created this fear will help identify present day triggers for the fear.  When the triggers happen, you will be able to stay in the present rather than be engulfed by the past.  To uncover the source of fear, write your personal biography.  What happened?  Why did you feel abandoned?  How did this experience affect you?  Your story deserves a response from yourself.  Consider sharing your story with a friend or counselor.

Pay attention to when fear arises in your current relationships.  Do you know how you act when you feel abandoned?  Do you become clingy, overly dependent, controlling, possessive, helpless, disengaged, irritable, enraged, panicky, or withdrawn?  What types of circumstances bring out your fear of rejection?  Your sister is too busy to visit.  Your friend forgets your birthday.  Your boss corrects you.  Your partner criticizes you.  Be mindful of your unique hot buttons and strive to calm yourself before jumping to conclusions.  Take a moment to breathe and ask, “Are my insecurities making this situation more than it really is?”

People who fear abandonment live defensively.  They expect to be abandoned.  A history of abandonment creates an emotional blueprint for how you see yourself.  Healing will challenge you to think differently about yourself.  You must stop gathering data to prove you are insignificant.  For instance, at social gatherings, do you filter people’s words and body language through a negative lens?  How often do you accuse yourself of being worthless or think someone is rejecting you?  God does not condemn you, so neither should you.  Focus on rebuilding your opinion of yourself by creating a positive self-image.  When you understand your worth, you will feel less threatened by people and more empowered.  Start to believe you matter and watch the world shift around you.

Have you considered how you treat yourself?  Are you compassionate toward yourself?  People with abandonment issues are far from self-forgiving.  Frequently people struggling with abandonment issues perceive themselves as defective.  Are you hostile towards yourself during vulnerable moments?  Do you chastise yourself when you face emotional struggles by saying “You should be over this by now.  Why did you react that way?  You are so stupid and pathetic.”  Stop beating yourself up for having an emotional wound.  You must be realistic and recognize that fear of abandonment is a complex issue.  Healing requires patience as much as determination.  Self-hate will derail recovery.  Your soul is pleading for self-empathy.

Remember, feelings are not facts.  Instead of rushing to rid yourself of intense emotions, try to understand your feelings.  Try to extract something constructive out of the moment.

Healing is a journey and recovery is messy.  Your primary job in healing from abandonment is not to abandon yourself.  If you have given up on yourself, it’s not too late to reclaim your personal value.  Physical or emotional abandonment may cause us to ask what was wrong with us.  Finding the right support to rebuild our picture, with our friends, family, or professional help, is crucial to overcoming the fear of abandonment.  If we will do this, we can be set free from this trap and go on to experience a long and full life.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

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Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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