Change Your Reality
Your perception of reality is crucial to your sense of well-being. It is not unusual for human nature to teach us life lessons that can alter how we see reality. As a result, the human psyche develops ways to protect us from any further hurt. As an adult it is your responsibility to revisit the core issues that contributed to this reality, and change them accordingly.
If you had an abandoning parent, you may have learned early on not to count on others to meet your needs. Therefore, unconsciously you sought out partners that were unavailable and unreliable. This inability to commit further reinforced your belief that you wouldn’t ever find a reliable partner who could honor that commitment to you. Your perception was that you could not depend on others.
I worked with a woman who had similar issues and was looking for someone to “complete her” and fill the void from her childhood. Before this woman could find the partner she deserved, she needed to feel complete herself. We spent six- to eight sessions dissecting her past especially her thoughts and feelings about her father’s betrayal. Intellectually she knew she was not at fault for her father’s abandonment, but emotionally, as most children do, she wondered why she wasn’t good enough to keep her father around.
Needless to say, as she got older, she dated men who were unreliable and irresponsible. She would then question why she wasn’t good enough to keep them interested.
The second stage of her therapy was to reprogram her brain so that she replaced the old critical thinking (e.g. “what’s wrong with me?”) with a new reality that put the responsibility on the other person. She was asked to come up with 25 statements that reflected the reality of the situation as opposed to the “old tapes” that played in her head from the past. The reality was the men she was choosing were not relationship material. Writing these statements helped her to reject the notion that they were abandoning her.
Her statements included:
• “He only thinks about himself.”
• “Men are not good at relationships.”
• “I won’t give him the power to make me feel bad about myself.”
• “He has never been consistent in my life.”
• “This is not about me, this is about him.”
• “I have done nothing wrong.”
The third part of her therapy was to quiet that desperate side of her and develop the fun-loving side that could come out and enjoy the moment and the person without the childhood fears that they would not stick around.
What this woman found is that she had to change her perception of her past which changed how she felt about herself and her reality. The wounded person inside her felt responsible for her father’s abandonment and secretly she did not feel worthy of a relationship. The new and improved part of her realized she was not responsible for her father’s abandonment and that she did deserve to enjoy herself in relationships. When she changed her perception of reality, it altered her experience and abandonment was no longer an issue.
As you might guess, this shift in paradigms made it possible for her to find happiness. She smiled as she told me in our last session, “I had to let go of the fear of abandonment to be healthy enough to find myself and to trust others.” Needless to say it didn’t take long for her to meet her life partner!