As children, you were praised for being a “good girl.” Taught to follow rules, be polite, and do what is expected of you. While these values are important, they can also lead to a dangerous pattern of self-abandonment, co-dependency, and settling for toxic or abusive relationships.
Self-abandonment occurs when you prioritize the needs and wants of others over your own to avoid conflict, gain approval, or simply because you have been conditioned to believe that your own needs are not as important as others. You learn to suppress your emotions to avoid making others uncomfortable or upset. This can lead to a pattern of seeking external validation and approval, rather than tuning in to your own inner voice and trusting your own intuition.
This can be particularly problematic for women, who are often socialized to be caretakers and nurturers. You may feel guilty for taking time for yourself, or you may worry that prioritizing your own needs will make you seem selfish or unlikable. This can lead to a cycle of self-sacrifice, where you continually put others before yourself and consistently neglect your own emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
When you consistently abandon yourself and put everyone else ahead, you will experience a range of unhealthy behaviours in your relationships:
Poor Boundary enforcement
Care-taking, fixing, over-giving
Constantly trying to prove your worth
Staying quiet to keep the peace or avoid conflict
Tolerating toxicity in relationships and friendships
Chasing love + becoming what they want you to be
Pouring yourself into someone hoping they will reciprocate – they rarely do
You may not even realize you are doing it, or you may feel trapped in your role of “good girl.” Breaking the cycle of self-abandonment begins when you start listening to your own intuition and inner voice; tuning in to what you truly want and need, and learning to trust yourself to make decisions that are in your own best interest.
It’s important to remember that prioritizing your own needs does not make you selfish or unkind. In fact, it allows you to show up more fully in your relationships and in your life.
Steps to Heal the Pattern of Self-Abandonment:
Healing and overcoming self-abandonment begins with self-care and self-love. By taking care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, you build resilience, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.
Exercise: Exercise is a great way to release stress and boost your mood. It can also help you feel stronger and more empowered.
Meditation: Meditation can help you stay centered and focused, even in the midst of chaos. It can also help you connect with your own inner wisdom and intuition.
Journaling: Journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection and self-expression. It can help you process your emotions and gain insights into your own patterns of behavior.
Setting boundaries is an important step in overcoming self-abandonment and stopping the cycle of toxic relationships. Boundaries are limits that you set for yourself in order to protect your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Enforcing your boundaries can help you regain a sense of control over your own life and protect yourself from further harm.
Some boundaries that may be helpful include:
Limiting or cutting-off contact with your toxic friends, family, and intimate partners. Set limits on phone calls, texts, or in-person visits.
Saying no: Learning to say no can be empowering and help you regain a sense of control over your life. This may mean setting limits on what you are willing to do for your friends or family and what you are willing to tolerate from them.
Asserting your needs: Asserting your needs and desires is an important step in reclaiming your own sense of self. Your needs are voiced when you set boundaries around how you want to be treated, or speak about what you need in order to feel safe and secure.
It is important to seek support from others who can offer encouragement, empathy, and practical assistance. This may include friends, family members, support groups, or professional therapists or coaches.
Talking to others about your experiences can help you feel less alone and more connected and safe. It can also provide you with new perspectives and insights into your own situation. Support networks can help you access resources and services that can assist you in your journey towards healing and recovery.
Reclaim Your Identity:
Ultimately, healing self-abandonment means reclaiming your own identity and sense of self. This may mean exploring your own values, interests, and passions, and making decisions based on what feels true to you. It may also mean setting goals and pursuing your dreams. Reclaiming your identity is a powerful act of self-love and self-empowerment helping you rediscover your own strengths, talents, and abilities, and feel more confident in your own abilities to navigate life’s challenges.
Overcoming self-abandonment requires a commitment to self-care, setting boundaries, seeking support, and reclaiming your own identity. By taking these steps, you can begin to heal from the effects of being a “good girl” and reclaim your own sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Remember, you are worthy of love and respect, and you have the power to create a life that is healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.
By: Susan Ball
Codependency Recovery Blog