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Breaking the Pattern: Self-Abandonment

Do you always find yourself putting the needs of others first, working so hard to make everyone else happy... while your own needs & happiness feel forgotten and ignored?

You may have a pattern of SELF-ABANDONMENT in your relationships that needs to be broken & replaced by habits of honoring yourself and your needs.

So let's talk about SELF-ABANDONMENT: its definition, its roots, common signs that this is happening in your life, and healing strategies to break this pattern.


Self-abandonment is a pattern of ignoring your own needs, repressing your own needs, or judging your own needs in favor of meeting the needs of others - often with the intention of maintaining a relationship bond at all costs, even to your detriment.


We can often trace the roots of self-abandonment to childhood experiences of being abandoned by a parent or caregiver.

That abandonment could have been a literal abandonment (in the form of a parent leaving or a divorce), emotional neglect (the caregiver was so distant or neglectful that you felt abandoned emotionally), or the parent was mentally unwell or emotionally immature to the point where you had to take on the role of caregiver & learn to prioritize their needs over your own.

These experiences can build an unconscious belief that our needs and desires won’t be met or even shouldn’t be met. So we consistently discount our own needs in favor of someone else’s, often working tirelessly to keep them happy - in the hopes that we’ll magically become happy in the process, except that it rarely works out that way.


1. Consistently forming relationships with people who are fundamentally unavailable or who are incapable of meeting your needs.

2. Hiding parts of yourself in your relationships, such as feelings, beliefs, ideas, and passions.

3. Going back on your own boundaries, or not even setting boundaries in the first place.

4. Going along with behavior that is not in alignment with your values in order to not "rock the boat".

5. Harshly judging yourself in ways that mirror judgments you received from others. These judgements might include believing that you are selfish for having certain needs/wants or that you should feel guilty for expressing them.

6. Ignoring your own feelings, often by staying so busy that you don’t have time to feel what you're really feeling.

7. Making decisions designed to appease others & keep the peace instead of standing up for your own truth.

8. Holding your tongue, not telling the whole truth, or saying something so “nicely” that you're barely saying anything at all.

9. Accommodating or enabling behavior that is destructive, toxic, and even abusive to yourself and others.


1. Make time for connecting with your needs, wants, dreams, creativity and passions. Prioritize activities and practices that honor who you truly are.

2. Practice complete honesty with your self and others. Learn to prioritize telling the truth over "being nice". Even if telling the truth risks the end of a relationship, speak your truth anyway.

3. Practice radical authenticity. Strive to be your truest self in all areas of your life: in your speech, your actions, your home, your livelihood, your choice of friends and partners. Let these questions guide your choices: Does this respect who I truly am? Does this honor my genuine needs?

4. Investigate childhood patterns of how your needs were not properly met. Find creative ways to make your inner child feel loved. Offer yourself forgiveness for the ways you haven't shown up for yourself in the past and commit to now offering yourself the love & care you've always deserved.

- Matthew Foley


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