Tag Archive | isolation

All about narcissistic abuse and how to escape

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Narcissism is an evil that masquerades as good. Like a Pied Piper this master illusionist can lead you to Hell all while making you feel flattered to be chosen to go there. Only when you wake up in Hell do you realize the real evil that existed in his fluted song. By then it’s too late; not only have you fallen victim, but most likely you have paid for the flute, as well. Tigress Luv

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: one of the few conditions where the patient is left alone and everyone else is treated. Anonymous

Have you been the target of narcissistic abuse and despite trying everything, you’re still finding it difficult to move forward with your life? Are you in a relationship with someone that has you doubting yourself and you’re never sure if you’re coming or going and even though it’s painful, you can’t let go? Was your relationship once Hollywood-perfect but now you feel stuck and trapped by threats of retribution? I bet you’re riddled with paranoid thoughts about the next thing you’re about to say or do – things you never questioned before… It’s time to wake up and BE YOUR OWN HERO!

Generally you won’t be in the position you are by choice, but more because you don’t know what the next move should be in order to safely get out of this relationship. Narcissistic abuse is not a toxic relationship and it’s not necessarily connected to domestic violence, but it falls somewhere between the two. It presents like a toxic relationship: because it’s got strong undercurrents of emotional abuse although they won’t necessarily physically hurt you (although it often escalates to this when narcissistic injury is caused, such as the threat of leaving them) and it is like domestic violence situation because of the threats, stalking and harassment and it’s likely to leave you traumatised for a long time to come. Narcissistic abuse is very, very serious.

Thankfully narcissistic abuse is becoming more spoken about, however still not many people comprehend it and the healthy mind will always have difficulty accepting it whether it happened to them directly or not. Particularly if it’s about someone they think they know, because of the mask a narcissist wears to hide their true self and present a false self which is almost perfect. If you know someone who doesn’t understand, hopefully this helps piece it together.

Meanwhile the target of this abuse will hold onto the confusion that their perfect sickly-sweet relationship where arguments were about who would take the bin out or have the latest bite of dinner and you were a tight unit and team, rapidly declined to become something so toxic, evil, destructive and dangerous. It can be difficult to get help because targets quickly realise that people struggle to comprehend it and they blame and judge themselves for omitting their abusive partner’s behaviours, while intensely fearing the judgement of others adding to their pain.

As a wounded healer – my own experiences with a man who had Narcissistic Personality Disorder inspired me to start my business Relationship Free and assist others to get clear of these relationships safely. Without police intervention. Without judgement. Without any support at all. I did it – and you can too!

Abandonment, loneliness and craving are all things targets of narcissistic abuse experience as they leave their relationship. And it’s overwhelming! Many of these people are desperately seeking closure and the truth and in doing so, are actually putting themselves in greater danger. What they rapidly learn if they are fortunate to hear about narcissistic abuse is that the person they thought they knew and loved actually doesn’t exist – they were just a fantasy, and this evil, destructive person who is now threatening them with even the most bizarre threats is their loved one’s true, authentic self. If you have found yourself in this situation and you’re wondering if your partner is a love avoidant and you’re a love addict and that’s the reason for the clash – this blog is for you. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can escape the hell of narcissistic abuse and find your happiness again – even if it means being alone.

What is narcissistic abuse?

According to expert Jeni Mawter, narcissistic abuse is carried out by someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, and a strong sense of self entitlement. It’s a condition that is often not medically diagnosed.

Psychology Today says someone with NPD displays arrogant behaviour, a lack of empathy for others and a need for admiration.

Jeni Mawter very aptly describes the narcissist as “a soul without footprints”. If you experience a turbulent ending to a relationship with someone who has NPD, this may be one of the first things you can identify with. They are the original hallow man – and to fill their voice, they literally try to get their lifeblood from destroying the souls of their targets.

Still not sure if this is something you’re experiencing?

Narcissists use tools and just like any form of abuse, there is a very distinct cycle that keeps their sources of supply hooked in the turbulent and high-intensity relationship.

Roberta Cone defines a narcissist as “a person who deprives their partners of the ability to feel joy and love as a separate person in relationships. They deliberately attempt to destroy or compromise the separate identity of another. The longer the relationship continues, the narcissist not only becomes less considerate, but more actively cruel.”

How it looks on paper:

  • Idealisation: they try really hard to get your attention – also known as love bombing or more commonly “grooming”
    • Repetitive text messages, emails, phone calls and Facebook posts, Tweets etc. that highlight their care and interest in you
    • Public displays of affection: they’re not afraid to show their love for you, something you won’t have experienced because health people don’t do it – it’s part of their attraction and fantasy creation
    • They will turn up at your home or workplace unannounced and bring gifts they know you’ll love
    • Intense seduction and sexual chemistry
    • Swift-pacing of the relationship, they will want to move in with you immediately: and generally they find a way to make it happen a lot faster than a healthy relationship
    • Dosing: they actually start pushing the boundaries early on to force the relationship into something toxic with their requests. As soon as the target does as they’re asked, they normalise it
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target at the start of the relationship to make the love appear mutual
    • Excessive romancing: fine dining, flowers, elaborate gifts

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: narcissistic behaviours parallel the behaviours of psychopaths, in that they are a Cluster B personality – everything at the beginning is done to prepare their targets for abuse in the future.

This is followed by a small transition as it moves from the idealisation phase and this includes things like:

  • Isolation: “We only need each other”
  • Social isolation and artificially inflated self-esteem “I feel like a better person when I am with you”
  • Creation of feeling dependent on you “I couldn’t do it without you”, “You give the best advice of anyone I know”

Isolation doesn’t happen overnight or the target will catch on, it is extremely subtle and it escalates as they move through each phase of abuse. People on the outside will notice a target withdrawing, often well before the target notices themselves. Inside the situation, it looks like this: it may start with the narcissist removing themselves off social media, and then asking you do the same (it’s likely they still have a profile and have changed their name or blocked you), it then moves to you cancelling plans with other people because you need to prioritise them over anyone else and before you know it you find yourself watching your phone ring out as concerned loved ones call but you’re not allowed to take the call because you’ll disturb them or whatever other reason they have given or inferred. These calls eventually stop. And then it’s just silence. Day in and day out, just you walking on egg shells in the same accommodation as this narcissistic person. This is generally where the seed is planted for isolation.

Then you enter the next phase, and if you get to this phase, strap in tight because it’s a hell of a ride that a narcissist will not let you get off. At this point they start giving flickers behind their mask and the target starts seeing their true character rather than the delusion they portray:

  • Devaluation: the narcissist tests their abuse and targets often mistake this phase for a toxic relationship
    • Sudden rejection, silent treatment, snide remarks
    • They disappear – stop texting, stop calling, stop dropping in to visit you
    • The deception becomes more apparent: you may find out they’re cheating on you. If this is the case, it’ll be the world’s worst kept secret, they’re almost proud of it. And they start using their favourite tool: triangulation. At this stage, it’s no longer just the two of you in the relationship – get set to be played off another person as they try to make themselves appear desirable to many and create triangles to stimulate rivalry in an attempt to raise their perceived value
    • They start using tools such as projection (saying you are doing things they are doing to you – for example, they tend to blame you for cheating or get upset over unfaithful behaviours, when they’re cheating on you) and trauma bonding (deliberately setting up high intensity situations and causing distress before playing the hero and hoovering you back in)
    • They also stop validating your feelings, so what they once appeared to care about – such as you being upset or heartbroken over anything – no longer seems to matter to them
    • Generally they will evoke sympathy to distract from blame ie. working long hours and your expectations are too high – they’re doing it all for you
    • They make it feel like you’re on an eternal honeymoon – meaning, after they cheat, abuse, insult, harass and stalk you they will then tell you they showed people your photo and how beautiful you are, you look amazing (it will often be image-focussed comments)
    • You’ll hear them say things like: “I have a photo of you in my phone and can’t stop looking at it”, “You’re stunning now – the guys can’t believe my luck! You’ve changed a lot since being with me”, “I’ve never felt this way in my life”, “You’re the most special person I’ve ever met”, “I’d risk it all for you” and no matter what turmoil is going down you’ll still hear them say “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this happy, if I ever have”
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target at this stage to make it look as though they are the ones who should be confused and it’s all the target’s fault. At this point their projection works to reduce anxiety of the unacceptable impulses or feelings by allowing their expression in a way that the conscious mind can’t recognise

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: in devaluing targets, hoovering them back in and devaluing them again, the narcissist sets the target up for long term trauma and self doubt and once they realise the reality of the situation it’s also a lot harder to forgive themselves and move forward.

Generally at some point after this stage the target may try to leave or consider leaving. This is when a narcissist will use a tool called “hoovering” which sucks the target right back in again – no matter how bad things get. They’ll use their knowledge of the things you like, they’ll tell you elaborate stories for why they did things and they’ll convince you that they are a better person with you (giving the illusion that they have given you the power back) and beg you not to take it away and to give them a second chance. Ultimately they will make you believe that they’re scared to lose the relationship.

So let’s say you can’t break it off at the devaluation phase. What happens is, like any abuse cycle it will temporarily start over. You’ll get love bombed again – only this time it will be more intense, more possessive and shorter lived (a month or two) – “Where are you?” “When can I see you?” They’ll start forcing the soul mate ideal – so, for example, in my case I got a lovelock: a padlock with our names on it, locked for all eternity. The devaluation phase quickly comes around again though – within days or up to a couple of weeks, the honeymoon wasn’t made to last. Now targets start experiencing what’s known as “baiting and bashing”. So they called you “beautiful”, “incredible”, “intelligent” and then it transforms to “ugly”, “crazy”, “jealous”, “stupid”. They will often build you up just to dump you right back down again and they keep repeating this phase to affect your self esteem, self worth and cause exhaustion and confusion. It will also affect your perception and ability to function overall.

Reality becomes distorted as the narcissist starts using gaslighting as a technique to cause the target confusion by presenting false information to their target, making them doubt their own memory, perception and often their sanity. In creating this confusion the target starts to doubt their own thoughts. It’s by using this tool that the abuser can verify that they have the target hooked through their disgraceful pathological lies and can carry out the next phase and cause mass destruction to their target’s life.

  • Discard: this is where the narcissist discards their targets and drops their source of supply in the most brutal way
    • Control by threats and fear
    • Increased emotional and psychological dependence
    • Punishment through anger, verbal and physical abuse, isolation
    • Character assassination (also known as narcissistic smear campaigns)
    • They will start scouting new supply, and the source may know this (particularly if the narcissist uses triangulation, this will be a threat in the relationship and it can be something like – if you go to work, I’ll cheat on you – and as crazy as that sounds, that can sometimes be enough to make targets quit their jobs and end their career in the hope of keeping the person who is abusing them without them realising it)
    • The target starts to experience cognitive dissonance – discomfort caused by holding two conflicting beliefs or ideas at the same time. Often the target then convinces themselves to stay because they may be able to make it better and they start exhibiting codependent behaviours
    • The narcissist will fly into rages and then act as though nothing happened, before raging again
    • The target becomes exhausted and generally starts to realise the abuse
    • Narcissist will move on without giving closure, admitting the truth or taking any responsibility for the chaos and trauma they created. In fact: they’re proud of it
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target, who is now exhausted from ongoing abuse and doesn’t actually know where their abuser ends and they begin – flooded by confusion and brainwashed, they remain in agony as they defend the narcissist for their actions throughout the relationship, appear “crazy” and “obsessive” while drowning in a wake of destruction left behind by the abusive person who has no conscience
    • Stalking, harassment which could lead to homicides and suicides.

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: many people believe once a target leaves the relationship that they are safe, even if an order is in place to prevent contact. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The trauma these high-intensity relationships create actually leave targets at greater risk of separation abuse (homicides) and can lead to suicide from exhaustion and fear that they may never get out of their situation and away from their abuser.

A target’s symptoms
The symptoms that targets experience are excruciatingly painful. They are emotional but they are so strong they can lead the person to experience physical pain. For almost six months I suffered severe chest pains no one could assist me with or diagnose anything for because there was no medical explanation for it.
– Torn and unable to comprehend what has happened
– Violated: many targets recover similar to rape victims
– Depressed
– Suicidal thoughts and even attempts
– Feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness – friendships slip away as narcissist’s isolate their victims
– Self mutilation: Self harm/Self injury
– Emotionally exhausted
– Panic (and frequently suffer panic attacks)– Hopelessness
– Highly strung/nervous
– Extreme anxiety
– Fearful
– Feeling obligated
– Completely trapped
– Low self-esteem
– May present with obsessive compulsive behaviours and/or phobias
– Insomnia
– Overwhelming sense of guilt
– Significant weight loss (generally they will be underweight as a means of gaining some control)
– Or overweight (as a result of comfort eating)
– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares; avoiding (people, places, thoughts, loss of interest etc) and increased arousal (excessive emotions, problems relating, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, outbursts of anger, anxiousness, panic attacks etc.)
– Emotions include: shock, anger, fear and guilt
– Dissociate (the victim may compartmentalise their experience and appear detached from their emotions, body or immediate surroundings)
– Chronic pain
– Somatizations/psychosomatic illnesses
– Nausea/vomiting caused by distress
– Hypervigilance
– Avoidance behaviour, feeling detached, sense of a limited future etc.
– Sleeping or eating difficulties
– Irritability
– Easily startled
– Flashbacks
– Stockholm Syndrome/Trauma bonding (continue to defend their abuser)
– Cognitive Dissonance
– Very uncertain of themselves/constantly second guessing themselves
– Difficulty making decisions
– Not trusting their own memory, perception or judgement
– Irritability
– Humiliation, shame, self-blame.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, proper care is essential. It is particularly important that you receive real-time support from someone who understands and preferably who has experienced narcissistic abuse to help you through the first few months of your recovery journey. I can’t highlight enough how essential it is that you receive the proper care and support if you’ve identified that this is you.

How can I move forward?

There are steps you can take to move forward and although really challenging in the beginning, if you stick to it properly, you will move on. Sometimes you hit rock bottom before you can push off and everyone recovers at their own pace but these suggestions may speed things up. First you need to make the decision to leave this narcissist, these steps will not work if you remain in the cycle of abuse by staying with them. If you’re looking for the truth or waiting for closure, save yourself the hassle and empower yourself to put as much space between yourself and this abusive person as you possibly can. Here’s how you can become your own hero from today forward:

  1. Implement NO CONTACT
    Narcissist’s will still try to break down your boundaries even after you implement NO CONTACT, but this is where you can take your power back. NO CONTACT is difficult and not everyone is able to do it properly. It’s not just about not taking their calls – here’s the steps:
  • Change your number
  • Block their emails (if this isn’t enough, open a new account)
  • Avoid mutual friends, where possible end friendships
  • Emotionally block anyone who contacts you on your abusers behalf or appears to defend them or their behaviour (think of them as being tarnished with their toxins)
  • Move house and change jobs (if necessary)

Great – you’re half way there! Now you also need to avoid:

  • Checking up on them
  • Reacting to anything they say or do
  • Answering the door if they come over
  • Family time spent together – if you have children together, minimise time spent together
  • Accepting new friends on Social Media (particularly if you don’t know them)
  • Thinking of them
  • Allowing information to filter back to you
  • Register information about them ie. a car sale, house sale etc.
  • Waiting to implement contact – there’s no good time, embrace the present moment!
  1. Avoid listening to soppy songs and the radio
    This isn’t your typical break up. Right now you need to focus on positive, healthy, happy music that will inspire you to move forward. Make a playlist of music that makes you happy, but has nothing to do with romantic love. For example songs may include: Happy by Pharrell Williams, You Gotta Be by Des’ree, Good Feeling – Flo Rida, It’s my life – Bon Jovi … you get the idea!
  1. Find a buddy
    There are plenty of narcissistic forums and Facebook groups you can join online and get support – however I find a lot of these toxic places to sit for too long. A lot of people look back which holds you back rather than encouraging each other to move forward and some people don’t want to get better so they unintentionally bring their toxic energy to other people in what is meant to be a safe space: try not to let this affect you. I don’t condone people doing this, use your experience to empower yourself and others and become more self aware, if you don’t want to put the work in to recovery that needs to be done, then at least give space to those who do and are on the right path. On that note I wanted to share that during my recovery I was fortunate to find a buddy from over the other side of the world and we’ve been friends ever since. The bond we have formed is as strong as if we had survived a hostage situation together. Highly recommend it!
  1. Watch movies that inspire you
    Make a list of movies that you can watch that centre around the themes of bravery and courage and particularly where there’s a bit of a journey and change involved. My choice was The Hunger Games and the character I chose to keep me strong and brave was Katniss Everdeen. I haven’t looked back! (Thank you Jennifer Lawrence for doing such an awesome job portraying this character!) You could also choose The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy), The Lord of the Rings (Frodo), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy), Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones), Star Wars (Luke Skywalker). When in doubt over the next few weeks and months, as yourself what the leading character would do in your situation.
  1. Create your own support group
    Friends and family are essential at this moment, or even just a colleague. Pick just one person you can count on to talk to about what’s going on, day or night. They may already know your story. It’s great if you have someone who knows and can just check in on you each day and assist you with your progress. Even if it’s for nothing more than to tell you how far you’ve come only months down the track.
  1. Create and action a Self Care Plan
    Self nurturing is essential once you get out of this relationship and your top priority should be regaining self trust and self forgiveness. Learn what makes you feel good, what you can do to make yourself feel special and fill the void the narcissist created and left behind and discover the things you really like again – right down to your favourite food and colour. It is also recommended that you get back to nature and exercise regularly. There are Self Care Plans available online that you could use to develop your own, or if you would like to work with me to create one, get in touch: sarah@relationshipfree.com.
  1. Accept and maintain a forward focus
    If you have dated a narcissist, everything good you came to know about that person was a lie, and unfortunately the only way to move on is to look ahead and look after yourself for a while. Accept that it was a lie and a fantasy created by a bad person. It is a cruel form of abuse, but accept they never loved you and it was just words to them. A narcissist doesn’t have the ability to love at all. I highly recommend you don’t date (and resist the temptation of dating) for at least six months to a year following one of these relationships and I explain why in more detail here. The easiest way to think of it is a person wearing a beautiful mask, and they have now taken it off to reveal their ugly true self which they’ve hidden from you for months or even years. Accept who they really are and focus on what you want from life now – because this person can’t offer it to you. Not sure what step to take next? Get in touch sarah@relationshipfree.com.
  1. Ask for help

Make an appointment with someone who will understand and not judge your situation and least of all would say something that would cause trouble or trigger you. There are specialist psychologists in Domestic Violence that you can find by a simple Google search, or – after my own experience with narcissistic abuse which led to domestic violence, I have become a wounded healer and now work in this field as a life coach. I have a positive and forward moving approach and am passionate about taking a holistic approach and natural therapy. I’ll even help you find the best way to embrace your pain! Get in touch: sarah@relationshipfree.com. I am currently developing a program for targets of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence which will be released later this year.

I’ve walked away – now what?
It’s important you take these steps as soon as you can following the moment you acknowledge that you are in a relationship with someone who hurts you with narcissistic abuse or domestic violence. Dr Phil says you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so the second you identify with this post and acknowledge your experience is the breakthrough moment that this is your opportunity to change and transform from this situation that’s kept you stuck and trapped.

It does take time and you may not get it perfect the first time you try to move forward, be patient with yourself. Talk to people – you’ll be surprised how many people have had similar experiences or can relate or identify. Always remember that no matter how much they hurt you once you escape the relationship – it will never be as painful as what you suffered while you were in the relationship: keep looking forward. Consider your situation the lucky escape – if you’ve made it out of one of these relationships, you’ve dodged a bullet – well done!

Are you recovering from narcissistic abuse? Please share your experience below.

Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in recovering from failed, toxic and abusive relationships, whether they’re career-related, family-related or romantic. For personalised assistance, contact me via email for my rates: sarah@relationshipfree.com

Other Resources
The After Narcissistic Abuse website is a fantastic resource of information as well. Despite encountering a lot of these signs during the relationship, there was nothing anyone could do to change my mind about my abuser – I loved him and I thought he needed my help. I was brainwashed and trapped by the tools he used to enhance my addiction. Looking back, I trusted him – even though I knew he was lying – I couldn’t prove it so I continued to doubt myself because of the ongoing abuse and the way he abused me … I just kept trusting him over my own instincts.

Happiness Weekly’s best tips for helping others

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You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan

The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.

The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:

“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:

I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.

The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!

There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.

These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.

Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”

So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.

 

The benefits of helping others includes:
-          Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
–          Enhancing someone else’s life
–          Making the world a better place to live

Things you can do to help others
-          Teach them something new
–          Smile and be friendly
–          Volunteer for a charity
–          Start your own charity
–          Make a donation
–          Share your knowledge
–          Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
–          Donate something you don’t use
–          Comfort someone
–          Buy food for a homeless person
–          Listen to someone
–          Do a chore for someone
–          Send a nice email
–          Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
–          Give a loved-one a massage
–          Praise someone publicly
–          Be patient with someone
–          Tutor a child
–          Make a care package for someone
–          Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
–          Offer to babysit
–          Share what you have
–          Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
–          Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
–          Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
–          Introduce people to each other, help people network
–          Give someone a gift
–          Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
–          Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
–          Use your power to help people around you have a good day
–          Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly

We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.

Pages that helped inspire this blog:
http://www.zenhabits.net/25-ways-to-help-a-fellow-human-being-today
http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2013/05/26/10-ways-to-help-others-that-will-lead-you-to-success
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-help-someone-who-wont-help-themselves
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/outside-the-classroom/volunteering-how-helping-others-helps-you

The abandonment complex and how to cope with it

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I saw taillights last night, in a dream about my old life. Everybody leaves and I would expect as much from you. Gaslight Anthem

According to abandonment.net, abandonment is about loss of love itself, that crucial loss of connectedness. It often involves breakup, betrayal, aloneness.

Outofthefog.net describes it as: an irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.

People struggling with abandonment issues include those going through the ending of a relationship as well as searching adoptees, recently widowed, and those suffering the wounds from earlier disconnections.

Many people, men and women, have abandonment issues that may manifest during childhood but surface later in life when the person is on his or her own in the world. Their core belief is that no one likes them and those that love them will leave.

Abandonment issues may particularly flare up if you’re going through a break up, separation or divorce and are entirely alone, either physically or emotionally. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at abandonment and really helps you to understand what it is and how to cope.

What is abandonment like for the person suffering?
Abandonment is a cumulative wound containing all of the losses and disconnections stemming all the way back to childhood. Abandonment.net says that for sufferers abandonment is:

  • A feeling
  • A feeling of isolation within a relationship
  • An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends
  • An aloneness-not-by-choice
  • An experience from childhood
  • A baby left on the doorstep
  • A woman left by her husband of twenty years for another woman
  • A man being left by his finance for someone ‘more successful’
  • A child left by his mother
  • A friend feeling deserted by a friend
  • A father leaving his marriage, moving out of the house, away from his children
  • A child whose pet dies
  • A little girl grieving over the death of her mother
  • A little boy wanting his mommy to come pick him up from nursery school
  • A child about to be ‘replaced’ by the birth of another sibling
  • A child needing his parents but they are emotionally unavailable
  • A boy realizing he is gay and anticipating the reaction of his parents and friends
  • A teenage boy with his heart twanging, but afraid to approach his love
  • A teenage girl feeling her heart is actually broken
  • A woman who has raised a family now grown, feeling empty, as if she has been deserted, as if the purpose of her life has abandoned her
  • A child stricken with a serious illness or injury watching his friends play while he must remain confined to braces, wheel chair, or bed
  • A woman who has lost her job and with it her professional identity, financial security, and status. Now she is left feeling worthless, not knowing how to occupy her time – – feeling abandoned by her life’s mission
  • A man who has been ‘put out to pasture’ by his company, as if obsolete
  • People grieving the death of a loved one report feelings of abandonment
  • The dying fear being abandoned by their loved ones as much or more as they fear pain and death
  • Suicide is an excruciating form of abandonment
  • Abandonment is all of this and more. Its wound is at the heart of the variety of human experiences, and is found in the uniqueness of each person’s life.

What does it look like?
Abandonment is ugly and generally pushes people away. For example:

  • A spouse assumes their partner is having an affair without any objective evidence.
  • A mother does not allow her teenage child to form romantic or peer relationships.
  • A boyfriend calls or texts repeatedly – 15 or more times in a single day.
  • A girlfriend shows up at an office function to which she has not been invited.
  • A divorcee stalks his ex-wife after the dissolution of the relationship.

Some examples of statements from people who have a fear of abandonment include:

  • “You’ve never loved me.”
  • “I know you are having an affair”
  • “You prefer them to me.”
  • “You never want to spend time with me.”
  • “I know you want to leave me”

Symptoms of abandonment include:
Clinging. One of the prominent symptom observed in people suffering fear of abandonment is reaching out or clinging to the person whom the sufferer is in relationship with. Since these people live with a fear of being left alone they tend to hold on to the person, which at times drive them away from the one they love.

Reaching out. The person will generally reach for someone they have a relationship with, which may form unhealthy relationships. It may also lead the person to realise their worst fear by driving the person they’re clinging to away.

Panic/dreading. Generally it’s over small indiscretions, but their reactions are severe. They call often if the person they’re clinging to is late, fails to pick up the phone, doesn’t call right back or refuses to meet with them for any reason.

Emotional blackmail. Strongly linked to panic, the person may threaten self harm to their loved ones, which is a sign of desperation.

Complacent disposition. Seemingly ok, they may take on the most disgusting household chore or sexual activity even when they don’t want it.

Leaving relationships. In an attempt to keep from being rejected, the person may bounce from relationship to relationship, so they are the ones doing rejecting. Even if it’s going well, they may leave thinking it’s only a matter of time.

Continual need for reassurance. The person may look for constant reassurance of affection or love. If they don’t do this, then they may be doing it more subtly but in a more destructive way to the relationship, for example they will continually test the person they are with to ensure they still love them.

Weakened sense of self worth. They feel happier and more confident when someone else is there to prop them up and protect them. Which is why they may try to surround themselves with someone – ANYONE – when they are feeling desperate.

How abandonment will destroy your relationship?
These tips are from Johanna Lyman.

1. You keep looking for flaws in someone who is potentially a good partner for you. You concentrate on their faults.

2. People think you’re shy or reserved. You don’t trust people which makes you hard to get to know. You’re afraid to let people in because you don’t want to get hurt, so you end up lonely instead.

3. You fall in love hard and fast, and over and over again. You don’t know who to be as an individual so you’re always in a relationship to hide from getting to know yourself. You can’t do enough for your partner and are a giver. You can’t understand why your partner doesn’t appreciate you.

4. You love the chase. You’re really attracted to someone when you’re trying to catch them, but once you’re in the relationship you get bored. You withdraw emotionally, and your partner starts to think they’ve done something wrong.

5. You are a perfectionist. You believe if you get it right, you won’t get rejected. Whether “it” is a work project, the way your home looks, how you dress or what your body looks like, perfectionism is a thief. It steals your happiness under the guise of preventing rejection.

How the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment
About Phobias published this piece about how the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment.

People with a fear of abandonment often follow one of a few basic patterns. This is how a typical relationship may evolve:

1. Getting to Know Each Other – At this point, you feel relatively safe. You are not yet emotionally invested in the other person, so you continue to live your life while enjoying time with your chosen person.

2. The Honeymoon Phase – This is when you make the choice to commit. You are willing to overlook possible red or yellow flags, because you just get along so well. You start spending a great deal of time with the other person, you always enjoy yourself, and you start to feel secure.

3. The Real Relationship – The honeymoon phase cannot last forever. No matter how well two people get along, real life always intervenes. Although this is a very normal and positive step in a relationship, it can be terrifying for those with a fear of abandonment, who may see it as a sign that the other person is pulling away. If you have this fear, you are probably battling with yourself and trying very hard not to express your worries for fear of appearing clingy.

4. The Slight – People are human. They have foibles and moods and things on their minds. Regardless of how much they care for someone else, they cannot and should not be expected to always have that person at the forefront of their minds. Especially once the honeymoon period is over, it is inevitable that a seeming slight will occur. This often takes the form of an unanswered text message or unreturned phone call, or a request for a few days of alone time.

What Happens Next
For those with a fear of abandonment, this is a turning point. If you have this fear, you are probably completely convinced that the slight is a sign that your partner no longer loves you. What happens next is almost entirely determined by the fear of abandonment, its severity and the sufferer’s preferred coping style. Some people handle this by becoming clingy and demanding, insisting that their partner prove his love by jumping through hoops outlined by the fearful partner. Others run away, rejecting their partners before they are rejected. Still others feel that the slight is their fault, and attempt to transform themselves into the perfect partner in a quest to keep the other person from leaving.

From your partner’s point of view, your sudden personality shift seems to come from out of left field. If the partner does not suffer from a fear of abandonment, he probably does not have the slightest idea why his previously confident, laid-back partner is suddenly acting clingy and demanding, smothering him with attention, or pulling away altogether.

Similar to phobias, it is impossible to talk or reason someone out of a fear of abandonment. No matter how many times your partner tries to reassure you, it will simply not be enough. Eventually, your behaviour patterns and inconsolability could drive your partner away, ironically leading to the conclusion that you fear most.

How to deal with abandonment issues
Overcoming these symptoms can be the first step to becoming a self-satisfied, content person for anyone suffering from this condition.

A person going through abandonment issues can do the following:

  • Relaxing the mind by practicing yoga can help greatly. Yoga will keeps the mind calm and free from an sort of negativity.
  • Understanding the power of the mind and its capabilities improves self-awareness.
  • It is a good idea to stop getting attached to people. Detachment does not mean not caring about them, but it means maintaining a distance and not relying on anyone else.
  • A busy life helps in forgetting the past and takes away the attention from unnecessary things.
  • Engaging in a sport or giving more time to work, going out with friends, etc., can divert the mind.
  • Aiming high, setting goals, and doing things that would add to the feel-good factor, works really well.

If nothing seems to help the situation, talking things out with a friend or spouse or seeing a psychologist, would definitely help. Take it day by day.

Why it’s important to fix your abandonment complex
Abandonment can lead to other disorders including anger, depression, anxiety, co-dependence and fear of intimacy. Unfortunately there’s no way to fast track getting past these issues, especially if they’re significant – hang in there and find yourself a psychologist. Tackling this one will be well worth it in the end!

Colour psychology and what your wardrobe reveals about you

Before you choose your outfit for the day, think about how you want other people to see you and interpret your personality … your clothes say far more than you think. Bridget Allen, senior fashion expert.

Socially everyone selects something of choice to wear from their wardrobe, but generally no further thought is taken other than if it looks good and feels comfortable. A picture is worth a thousand words, but 99% of that description is about the colour of that picture. Colour psychology is concerned with how certain colours effect emotions, perceptions and reactions.

According to Adam D Galinksy, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves”. Leave your inner fashionista behind, this week Happiness Weekly takes a practical look at what the colours in your wardrobe are really saying about you!

Colours at work

Black symbolises power and sophistication, but is also the colour of the secretive unknown creating an air of mystery. Some use it to hide their weight, others use it to hide their fears and insecurities. Black provides comfort while protecting emotional feelings and vulnerabilities. It symbolises control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. It radiates authority, but creates fear in the process. People that wear black are self-controlled and disciplined, independent and strong-willed but give an impression of authority and power. Affluent and success-orientated women often choose to wear black as it gives an impression of elegance, sophistication and confidence. It’s a great colour for trousers, jackets or shirts – it is recommended that you break it up with other colours.

Yellow can be seen as cheery and warm, it is the colour of mind, intellect and acquired knowledge. Uplifting and illuminating, it offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. Yellow inspires inquisitiveness and original thought. People that like yellow are generally great communicators and love to talk – particularly suitable to networkers, journalists and people that work in Public Relations. It is linked to clarity of thought and ideas which aids with decision making, focus and study, and recalling information. Yellow should be limited to accessories such as ties or necklaces because it can be impulsive and cause anxiety. More information about yellow and its variations is available here.

Gold is the colour of success, achievement and triumph. It is associated with abundance, prosperity, luxury, quality, prestige and sophistication. Valuable and elegant, gold implies affluence, material wealth and extravagance. Linked to masculine energy and the power of the sun – it is confident, passionate and eye-catching.

White is associated with purity, innocence, wholeness, completion and serenity. Cleanliness personified, the colour white is the colour for new beginnings and the ultimate purity which is why western brides and doctors wear it. The colour of protection and encouragement, white offers a sense of peace and calm, comfort and hope, and helps alleviate emotional upsets. It creates a sense of order and efficiency – great for inspiration if you wish to unclutter your life. Too much white can be cold, isolating, empty and bland. It implies a feeling of sterility, detachment and disinterest, providing little stimulation for the senses. Wear it sparingly, white is the classic colour for an office shirt because it provides a good background for the statement colour of a tie.

Silver has a feminine energy and is associated with the moon – it is fluid, emotional, sensitive and mysterious. Reflective and sensitive, silver inspires intuition, clairvoyance and mental telepathy. It is also associated with prestige and wealth as it is seen as glamorous, sophisticated, prosperous and modern. People that wear silver are respectable, courteous, dignified, self-controlled, responsible, patient, determined and organised. It resonates well in the corporate world to those in positions of responsibility (males and females).

Grey is the colour of compromise – it is neutral and detached. The closer it gets to black, the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes, but the closer it gets to white or silver, the more illuminating and lively it becomes. People that wear grey are generally subdued, quiet and reserved. Conformists, they are conventional, dependable and practical. Too much grey creates sadness and depression and a tendency to loneliness and isolation. More information about grey and its variations is available here.

Purple is a colour of imagination and spirituality, historically associated with luxury, wealth and royalty. It represents the future. Purple inspires unconditional and selfless love, and enhances psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment. It promotes harmony of the mind and emotions, contributing to mental balance and stability, and peace of mind. Violet is the colour of humanitarian, using its better judgement to do good for others, combining wisdom and power with sensitivity and humility. People that wear purple have an element of power as it demands respect. They are ambitious and self-assured leaders. Purple is difficult colour to pull off because it requires confidence to wear successfully. More information about purple, and its variations, is available here.

Indigo, the colour of intuition, perception and the higher mind. It promotes deep concentration during meditation. Powerful and dignified, it conveys integrity and deep serenity. People that love the colour indigo conform to things that have worked in the past, while planning for the future. It stimulates the right brain and helps with spatial skills.

Red is the colour of energy, passion and action. It exudes a strong and powerful masculine energy, it excites the emotions and motivates us to take action. Red is a powerful colour: it is a symbol for leadership, assertiveness, confidence, ambition and determination. Too much red can cause irritation, agitation, aggression and anger. In China it is the colour for good luck, in India it is the colour for purity and is often used in their wedding gowns. Red is a great colour to wear to negotiations, meetings and sales pitches. More information about the colour red, and its variations, is available here.

Brown symbolises age and maturity. It is serious, down-to earth and relates to security, protection and material wealth. People that wear brown take their obligations seriously and encourage a strong need for security and a sense of belonging. They feel that family and friends are of utmost importance, are honest, genuine and sincere – though can be stingy with money. They are trustworthy, reliable, loyal, dependable, practical and realistic. The colour of structure, it encourages orderliness, uniformity and organisation. It is reassuring and quietly confident. Wearing this colour can make you appear wise. It is a popular colour with teachers and academics because it inspires feelings of respect in a subtle manner as opposed to aggressively asserting respect like red or purple. Wearing too much brown can make you look stuffy or old fashioned. More information about brown and its variations is available here.

Blue is a calming colour that inspires serenity, trust and responsibility. Honest and loyal, this colour is reliable, sincere, reserved and quiet. It promotes mental and physical relaxation, reducing stress. In fact, the paler the shade of blue, the more freedom we feel. People that love blue define success as quality and quantity of relationships, they give more than receive and build strong, trusting relationships. They become deeply hurt if betrayed. Conservative and predictable, blue is safe, non-threatening, but persistent and determined to succeed. Wear blue when you need to give important news in a meeting but break it up with other colours if you are delivering bad news. More information about blue and its variations is available here.

Turquoise represents open communication and clarity of thought. It controls and heals the emotions creating emotional balance and stability. The colour turquoise recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. It increases creativity and sensitivity. People that wear turquoise are generally good at multi-tasking and are very caring. Turquoise also encourages us to build self-esteem and be self-sufficient. More information about turquoise and its variations is available here.

Orange radiates warmth and happiness. It is the colour of adventure, risk-taking and social communication. Orange offers emotional strength, it is optimistic and uplifting, and promotes spontaneity and a positive outlook. It inspires physical confidence, competition, independence, and aids in putting new ideas into action, banishing limitations. It encourages self-respect and respect of others. A great colour for accessories, orange prevents other colours from becoming overbearing. More information about orange and its variations is available here.

Green is the colour of harmony, growth and balance (creating equilibrium between the head and the heart). It is a natural peacemaker and an emotionally positive colour, encouraging us to love and nurture ourselves and others unconditionally. People that wear green enjoy observing and listening and have good judgement. They are generally inviting, generous, friendly and can keep confidences but also tend to look for recognition. A great colour for women’s dresses, it is also the ideal colour for accessories. More information about green and its variations is available here.

Pink is associated with femininity, unconditional love and romance. It represents compassion and nurturing. People that wear pink are intuitive and insightful and demonstrate tenderness, kindness, empathy and sensitivity. It is the colour of hope and good health. Pink calms and reassures our emotional energies, alleviating feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect. A non-threatening colour, people that love pink seek appreciation, respect and admiration. It is a great colour for items you will wear briefly but you can remove for the bulk of the day e.g. jackets and bags. More information about pink and its variations is available here.

Magenta is the universal colour for harmony and emotional balance. People that wear magenta are generally spiritual (yet practical), encouraging, have good common sense and a balanced outlook on life. Magenta strengthens our intuition and psychic ability while assisting to rise above daily obstacles and gain awareness and knowledge. An instrument of change and transformation, magenta aids us in moving forward, helping to release old emotional patterns that prevent personal and spiritual development. It is uplifting to our spirits during times of unhappiness, anger and frustration. Magenta is the colour of cheerfulness, happiness, contentment and appreciation for what you have acquired and achieved. Magenta is spontaneous and impulsive, yet resourceful and organised.

Speedy wardrobe colour tips
* Blue establishes trust and credibility. It is a safe colour and universally liked by most men and women.
* To appear friendly and approachable, wear lighter colours such as mid-tone blues, greens, blue-greens, teal, tan and peachy-orange.
* To get noticed or appear assertive, wear red (but note, it can be threatening).
* To appear confident, blue-green is a good business colour for women, it suggests high self-esteem, confidence but is still friendly and approachable.
* To show dependability, wear green.
* To appear neutral wear grey or beige. You may look like a fence-sitter, but it enables you to say what a client wants to hear rather than the truth.
* To look professional with authority, wear dark blue or dark grey. It’s great for credibility when promoting your business.
* To shock or inspire your audience, wear a magenta suit … with a matching top hat and cane!
* Earth tones (dark orange, mid-brown, light yellow, beige, tan or caramel) are seen as reliable.

Fast facts on colour psychology
- Teenagers often have a psychological need to wear black during the stage of transition from the innocence of childhood to the sophistication of adulthood. It enables them to hide from the world while they discover their own unique identity.
– According to Dr Jennifer Baumgartner, who wrote “You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you”, what you wear can inform people passing you in the street of your type of employment, ambitions, emotions and spending habits. “Shopping and spending behaviours often come from internal motivations such as emotions, experiences and culture,” she said.
– A study from Northwestern University examined the concept “enclothed cognition”. Researchers define it in their report as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” meaning what clothes say to you, rather than about you. How they make you feel, not just how they make you act and react.
– Women react more positively to blue-based colours, such as deep blue-reds, most blues, most pinks and blue-greens. Men find yellow-based colours more attractive. They appreciate true reds and oranges, peachy-apricots and most blues.
– Colours also enhance our culinary experience. Red is the most prominent colour in fast food logos because it stimulates appetite and expresses the speed at which you will be served your meal. Blue decreases appetite – however, people are more likely to drink from a blue glass than a red glass. Orange also assists with stimulating appetite.
– Trying to lose weight? Dieticians recommend eating off a blue plate as it suppresses appetite.

How to feel emotionally secure

Insecurity is an ugly thing. It makes you hate people that you don’t even know. Unknown

Feeling secure with your job, your body, your decisions, your relationships – it can seem like something hard to come by – but it is certainly worth working on.

Feeling “safe” can be generated from opposing dynamics which create conflict – which means just because you feel secure in one aspect of your life at the moment, doesn’t mean you will feel that way all the time. The problem with this uncertainty is that people try to change things so they are secure again and do feel safe, and this can often look as though you don’t know what you want – and ultimately get confusing for you and the people around you. To avoid this, we need to make ourselves aware of the conflict before it erupts.

How can you help your partner to feel more secure?
– Be emotionally available, honest, trustworthy and authentic. Act with integrity
– Spend time doing things as simple as cooking and cleaning the house together, because it sends a message that you are committed to being with her and the relationship is going somewhere
– Avoid being distant emotionally or physically, because it will invite feelings of loneliness, isolation and put the fear of a break up in your partner.

What you can do as a partnership to encourage feelings of security?
– Give up limiting fear-based beliefs. If we are to find true happiness in a relationship, it requires dissolving the beliefs and assumptions that create painful fears and controlling behaviours
– Figure out what makes you and your partner feel safe and secure, and go out of your way to ensure both of you have that as often as possible.

What YOU can do to feel more secure!
– Dress nicely. When you look good, you feel good
– Take care of your hygiene. A trip to the beautician may even help to make you feel better
– Sit up straight. People with slumped shoulder and lethargic movements display a lack of self-confidence
– Exercise regularly – I will improve your physical appearance and helps you spend time constructively. Power walk, people with confidence walk faster
– Volunteer – concentrate on the contribution you can make to the rest of the world
– Compliment others and break the cycle of negativity
– Make yourself win: let go of the past, ignore hurtful negativity and make yourself happy
– Create daily affirmations. Make a list of things you like about yourself
– Start with small steps to gain confidence in your decision making ability
– Be yourself. Stop trying to please others and think before you sacrifice your own needs
– Avoid negative people
– Face your fears and learn from your failures
– Reward yourself when you succeed with your goals
– Practice letting go
– Concentrate on what’s right with the relationship and build on that
– Learn how to realistically view your relationship
– Find assurance within yourself. No one else can make you happy.

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