You may not even realize you have abandoment issues.
A few months ago I introduced readers to the Seven Dwarves of Smallness. Others call them your demons, but I think that gives them too much power. The Seven Dwarves are the gatekeepers to your soul. They are there to protect who you really are. I'm here to stick up for them, because the truth is, they have a very important job. They were put in place to keep your greatest gifts safe from harm.
As soon as you decide to do something to make your life better, your Seven Dwarves will start throwing up road blocks. Their job is to keep you small so you don't realize how big you really are. They keep you in fear so you continue to experience yourself as a mere mortal, when in fact you are a spiritual being having a human experience. The Dwarves tell you all the ways you're not good enough to get what you say you want.
The first of the seven dwarves is abandonment. This dwarf's theme is: Nobody likes me, and the people who love me will leave me. Abandonment is responsible for all the stories you have about being abandoned or rejected, and there are hundreds if not thousands of stories the abandonment dwarf will tell you about yourself.
Abandonment is really just trying to keep you safe from heartbreak. It thinks that if you keep your heart closed, nobody will be able to abandon or reject you. The problem is that abandonment is wrong: A closed heart is a broken heart. The only way to stay safe from heartbreak is to open your heart all the way. If you're willing to take in the lesson of the heartbreak, you'll learn how to open your heart wider.
Here are five of the main ways abandonment shows up in people's lives:
1. You look for flaws. When you find someone who might be a good partner, you start looking for their faults. You look for what's wrong instead of what's right. Nobody ever breaks up with you because you don't give them a chance. You're always the one to leave.
2. People think you're shy or reserved. You're hard to get to know because you don't trust people. You're afraid that if you let someone in, you'll be hurt. So you end up lonely instead.
3. You fall hard and fast, over and over again. You're always in a relationship because you don't know who to be as an individual. You're in love with the idea of love, but find it difficult to actually execute. You can't do enough for your partner, and you're a giver. You don't understand why he doesn't appreciate you.
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4. You love the chase. You're really attracted to someone when you're trying to catch them, but once you're in the relationship you get bored. You withdraw emotionally, and your partner starts to think they've done something wrong. This is a common expression of abandonment issues in men.
5. You are a perfectionist. If only you get it right, you won't be rejected. Whether "it" is a work project, the way your home looks, how you dress or what your body looks like, perfectionism is a thief. It steals your happiness under the guise of preventing rejection.
If you resonate with any of these, the first step is to be gentle with yourself. Abandonment will start whispering in your ear that you don't deserve anything better and that you don't deserve to be loved. That is a lie, intended to keep you small.
All of us have at least one or two of these dynamics running in our lives. The most universal is the perfectionism one. Even if you don't think of yourself as a perfectionist, try to notice where perfectionist tendencies show up in your life. Maybe you're driven at work, and maybe you're obsessive about your body. Both are perfectionist tendencies.