How Small Shifts Can Change Your Entire Perspective and Outlook, Improving Your Mental Health and Healing Journey
As trauma survivors, or those still challenged by acute trauma, mental health struggles, PTSD, or cPTSD, we all, at various times, can suffer from an abandonment mindset. You are not alone in this, and recognizing that just under the surface of abandonment is the fear of rejection is extremely important. The fear of rejection is tied to feeling that any type of rejection is a rejection of us, of who we are personally. And in reality, it’s actually the person’s hypervigilance about being rejected that keeps them tied to the struggle with abandonment.
As trauma survivors or those facing mental health challenges, we often orient in the direction of rejection, which then supports the fear of abandonment. A cycle that continues as we walk around wearing what I call our “abandonment glasses.” Our abandonment glasses only allow a certain perspective or viewpoint and what we tend to see is not pure reality, but rather, a world colored by the fear of being left, left out, or judged. Abandonment glasses are terribly limiting and secure our previous (and sometimes life-long held) beliefs and understanding about ourselves that aren’t really true. Instead, these glasses only allow us to see what we wish, which are conditioned patterns that have been solidified over the years. These “glasses” color what we pay attention to, how we respond, and how we interpret things.
Let’s look at an example of how this might manifest for someone in an everyday situation. This could be when you are at a party and have quite a bit of social anxiety about being there. As you make your way around the room, you get drawn into multiple conversations and with three people, the interactions are great! But, during a fourth interaction, that person walks away after only a few minutes of talking. And then what happens? You will focus on the last conversation and person (not the first three which were wonderful) and begin to question yourself. Questions and thoughts will arise, such as the following:
“What’s wrong with me?”
“What did I do wrong?”
“Am I boring?”
“Nobody likes me.”
Once you slip into these types of questions and mentality, you will go further into your story of feeling unworthy and rejected. You internalize this entire experience as though something is wrong with you and you do so because this protects you in your old story, beliefs, and patterns.The fear of abandonment really hooks into the one area that feels like rejection and uses it to control you, while all the positive interactions get filtered out.
So, how do we counter, in a healthy and productive way, these “abandonment glasses” which cause these thoughts?
As a childhood trauma recovery coach and mental health advocate, when working 1:1 with someone, I help them to take a step back and broaden their view, which can become very narrow with those glasses on. Rather than focusing on the one incident with the 4th person, we work to gain a bird’s eye view of the whole party and recognize that the one conversation that fell flat was just one element to the entire evening, not the whole. We have gentle reminders that when learning to overcome these social anxieties, and learning to interact with others, it takes time to get to know each other, AND it’s ok to not click with every person. In reality, that’s not even realistic. And none of this means there is something wrong with you.
The other good news? There are more ways to start this healing journey of the abandonment mindset. Here is a simple mentalization exercise to use to begin shifting your knee jerk responses and thoughts.
First, though. What is Mentalization? This is when you begin to notice that you are making assumptions about someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or actions, without actually knowing or understanding what is true.
This means that you identify that it’s a normal human response to focus on others and try to figure out what they are thinking. Then, you bring awareness to the true story: “As humans we will never click with everyone, and not only is that normal, it’s okay.”
“They must not like me.”
“I must be boring.”
“Nobody likes me.”
“This person doesn’t want to be around me, or spend time with me.”
“Maybe they are having a bad day.”
“Maybe they have social anxiety too, and felt uncomfortable.”
“Maybe they are preoccupied with something stressful.”
“Could it be something else I’m simply unaware of?”
Celebrate the 3 successful connections you had! We so often forget to celebrate what did go well, or what was accomplished is something we can be proud of. Drown out the negative by focusing on the positive. This process helps to disrupt the old patterns and beliefs that might still pop up. Remember, this is a journey, so allow yourself some grace and space to shift this mindset. Forgive yourself if those abandonment glasses show up, and know that you have the ability to take them right off and see the situation, circumstance, or experience for what it truly is.
If you are looking for additional support on how to shift this mindset, or overall support on your healing journey, I would love to chat with you further. Let’s build a strong mental health community together, raising awareness and support with resources, compassion, and understanding.
Click here to book your free 1-hour discovery call.
You never know how one conversation could shift the direction of your life.
Lots of love ~ Morgan