The world is often a difficult place to navigate.
People say and do hurtful things to each other.
Sometimes by accident, and sometimes on purpose.
Even those people who should love and support us can sometimes neglect their ‘duty of care’.
We can feel bruised and sore, either emotionally or even sometimes physically.
This can leave us feeling abandoned and alone, even when we’re surrounded by people.
How we respond when we feel abandoned or neglected, can make or break our quality of life.
Relationships can be difficult to navigate.
At work, you might have a co-worker who seems to take pleasure in making your life difficult.
‘Bad-mouthing’ you behind your back or spreading rumours.
You might be able to ignore their behaviour most of the time, but it still gets you down.
It’s very stressful to have to interact with people you can’t trust.
You might have a boss who doesn’t appreciate all the hard work and time you put in.
A boss who, no matter what you do, always expects more.
You might have a partner who’s rude to you, and dismisses your feelings if you try to bring it up.
Or they tell you “You’re too sensitive”.
A partner who belittles you in public and constantly criticises you at home.
You might feel abandoned by the very person who promised to love and take care of you, no matter what.
You can’t say anything, you just put up with it.
Living with that day after day is exhausting.
Even our children can inflict harm on us without knowing it.
They always know exactly how to push our buttons to get what they want.
But when they become teenagers, their world becomes more confusing.
With fluctuating hormones, they can lash out, either verbally or even physically.
They’re just trying to get their needs met, like when they were toddlers, but they can do a lot of damage.
I remember walking in the forest one day with my then 16 year old daughter.
She was in a ‘down’ mood, and our usual light-hearted conversation was suppressed by a dark cloud.
She began recounting how she’d been hurt by some of my actions (or inactions) when she was younger.
She described how I’d failed her.
She blamed me for all of her current problems.
Throughout her tirade I kept silent.
I tried to listen as best I could (and bat away the excuses as they jumped into my head).
Finally she said to me,
“I just wish I had a mother who was good at something”
Those words cut me deep.
I knew she needed me to acknowledge her pain, but I shrank back deeper into my shell.
I couldn’t respond.
I was stunned into silence.
The part of me that knows I’m ‘good at something’ stayed quiet.
At the same time I was feeling deeply hurt, my critical voice piped up
“Well she’s right, you have been a hopeless mother”
These hurtful experiences happen to all of us.
Our relationships have a huge impact on our wellbeing.
Whether talking to work colleagues, friends or close family,
The people we interact with can deeply hurt us.
But we don’t like to dwell on it.
We try to put it out of our minds.
We tell ourselves to
“Just forget it”
“Suck it up and get on with your life.”
Yet our emotions are inter-connected with our body and mind.
What impacts one will impact the others.
If we choose to ignore our hurt, or push it down, we can experience stress, anxiety or depression.
Ignoring our feelings can even cause physical symptoms.
Say, exhaustion, headaches or stomach pain.
When you feel abandoned, the only one who can save you is YOU.
If you notice you’re stressed or anxious at work,
If you’re having headaches or feel exhausted all time,
If your partner’s behaviour is causing you to feel abandoned or betrayed.
You can decide you’re not going to abandon yourself.
You can choose to take back control of your wellbeing.
“When you feel abandoned, the only one who can save you is YOU“
That might sound all well and good, but
How can you save yourself?
Your body, your mind and your emotions are all connected.
What affects one will have an impact on the others.
The path to saving yourself is to start paying attention.
Pay attention to your body, your mind, and your emotions.
Here’s some tips on how to do that:
1. If you’re feeling stressed at work – take a break.
Get up from your desk and take a 5 minute ‘stress break’.
Go somewhere quiet and do some focussed breathing.
Notice the air coming in through your nostrils and out through your mouth:
Breath in for 4 counts,
Hold it for 4 counts,
Breath out for 8 counts.
Repeat until you feel more calm.
You can find more tips here.
2. If you feel hurt by something – make a note to deal with it later.
Say your partner has done or said something hurtful
Instead of trying to ignore it, make a mental note to deal with it later.
At the end of your day, take some quiet time to think about anything that happened that upset you.
Take a notepad and pen, and write what happened and how you felt.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect.
You don’t need to write in complete sentences.
Just words, phrases, even doodles or images.
In doing this, you’re processing what happened, so it doesn’t build up inside you.
3. Do one kind thing for yourself each day.
This might feel tricky at first, if you’re not used to doing it.
But the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Examples could be:
- go to bed a bit earlier
- make the effort to cook food that you love
- take a rest from cooking and enjoy a delicious take-out
- sit for 5 minutes staring out of the window
Make a list of the things you could do to be kind to yourself.
And do one of them every day.
By consciously choosing to do something kind, you’re teaching your mind to pay attention to YOU.
And that’s a great habit!
Your relationship with yourself is the most important one
Over the years I’ve learned how to process my feelings.
And I’m still learning how to be kind to myself.
That day in the forest with my daughter, I felt wounded, but I wrote out my feelings.
I expressed my hurt and pain onto paper.
And I forgave myself for anything I did or didn’t do in the past.
By doing that, I was showing the wounded younger part of me that I’m listening, and I care.
I’m showing her that I’ll do everything in my power so that she will never feel abandoned.
You can learn how to do that too.