We'll be going over some ideas about shadow work for abandonment issues.
But first, we need to make sure you understand a few important things.
What is Shadow Self & Shadow Work?
Your shadow self, or shadow, is the side of yourself you have no awareness of. It holds all the qualities you disowned during your formative years.
Although you learned to repress these qualities and push them outside of your awareness, they still live underneath the surface.
They unconsciously guide your actions and are the unseen cause for many of the troubles in your life.
Shadow work is the intentional practice of becoming aware of your unconscious shadow and integrating these neglected qualities into your being—becoming whole.
This is a process of building self-awareness, self-acceptance, and universal Love.
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."Carl Jung
Shadow Work for Abandonment Issues
Attachment theory tells us that the attachment style we build with our caregivers will reflect how we relate to others later in life.
This is why childhood abandonment can highly impact the psyche.
However, "being abandoned" is part of the human experience. We only hope that it's in small enough doses that it builds independence rather than foster neurotic co-dependency or fear of engulfment.
Less obvious signs of abandonment would be the parent's lack of resonating emotionally with a child. Leaving the child feeling alone.
Sometimes the demoralizing effort of the parent trying to soothe their child to no avail may lead to less effort because the parent isn't building the sense of attachment with their child.
Coping with Abandonment
This can lead to a child's psyche developing an image of "parent" that isn't a source of security, attachment, and fulfillment.
Instead of associating these parental qualities to a "mother" or "father" image, a child may instead associate these parental qualities and expectations onto a different image which better provides a parental experience.
This is why a person may actually associate a television show about a family with these qualities. They are vicariously experiencing security, attachment, and fulfillment through the show's characters—
This coping mechanism is the mind's way of soothing itself for not receiving these needs in real life.
The vicarious experience helps build a fantasy where a person is their own stand-in for their emotional needs. However, they counter-intuitively give themselves their own emotional needs via an "other" that may not be a real presence.
You can refer to this as a type of transference. The expectations of "parent" aren't being met by actual parents, so they are instead projected onto an "other," allowing the person to self-soothe; tv shows, imaginary friend, God.
This is the mind's desperate attempt to grasp anything that will serve as a positive parental image.
However, an entirely different person can also serve as a parental figure. Which would give the child's psyche a completely different image to project parental qualities onto, an image many children wouldn't share.
But most adults, whether related or not, would simply have the child refer to them as "mom," "dad," "uncle," "grandma," or some other typical familial name for the sake of simplicity.
However, this could taint the actual parent's image with qualities such as negligence, disappointment, rejection, etc.
Inner Child Wounds & Shadow Beliefs
Your early attachments can create a lifelong pattern of unhealthy insufficiency. Or you can create a lifelong pattern of growth and healthy adaptability—thanks to having a childhood full of feelings of security.
For example, an ambivalent relationship with one's mother can lead a person to believe that the helpfulness of others is an implied message towards their own incompetency; "I don't need your help!".
Without proper grief work of a parent's inadequacy, the person cannot experience longing without experiencing the associated feelings of neglect.
This can be a source of a trigger for some people. Where they will attack feelings of longing. Because they've disowned it within themselves to prevent having to experience inner pain and doing griefwork.
Here is a quick list of triggers / curative integrations:
- Caretaking / Compassion
- Dependency / Sensible Trusting
- Neediness / Willingness to ask for personal needs
If you are triggered by a quality on the left side of the slash, you need to integrate the quality on the right side.
Because the right side is what is actually going on. But since you've repressed this quality within yourself, you lack an inner "point of reference."
So your perception of these qualities isn't accurate. At least until you integrate these qualities into your personality.
As an adult, you cannot be abandoned. Because you are not powerless anymore like you were as a child.
So when you "feel abandoned," you are actually re-experiencing an inner child wound. A period of time frozen in your psyche because you could not fully process the emotions you were feeling.
As a child, being abandoned is like being punished for having needs. Specifically a need for understanding and attachment.
This can lead up to a person not developing a healthy, assertive ego. Which eventually builds up into a habit of self-abandonment.
This prevents a person's ability to develop discernment and results in falling prey to people who are not well-intentioned.
The shadow belief behind all of this is that identifying your own needs threatens your own survival because you are made vulnerable to being abandoned again.
It's by doing griefwork, "becoming your own parent," or even "forfeiting" your traumatized childhood identity that you heal your inner child wounds and mend your psyche.
As a result, you learn to give yourself fulfillment and the self-love you have always sought from others.
Check out Shadow Work Prompts for Abandonment Issues here.
It is by doing the inner work that you will no longer fear that your loved ones won't be there for you when you need it—
Instead, you will feel confident that your loved ones will be there for you when you need them.
Even in the case they are not—you know you will be there.
And deep down, you'll already understand that's all you'll ever truly need.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work Course is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This course is updated every year and gets new content at no additional cost. Learn more here.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This short course goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for people dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance bundle teaches you some holistic and systems thinking along with how to mend your inner child wounds so you can align with your higher self and move forward in life. This includes 20 video clips as a free bonus.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a small sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through my BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.