Posts Tagged ‘abandonment’

To Stay or To Go

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
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Dear Jane,
I can’t stand the relationship I’ve been in anymore. My partner and I have been together for 12 years. I always thought we would make it. We have so much in common and we’ve been supportive of each other. But I realize that I’ve been unhappy, without admitting it to myself, for quite a while. I feel drained by how much he needs me and demands of me. Lately, I can’t stand the thought of him even touching me. I fantasize him dying or him saying he wants to end the relationship. I know this is because I don’t want to be the one to make the decision. What should I do? I feel like I’m dying inside.

What I hear coming through loudly and clearly is your built-up resentment. Resentment kills: It kills relationships and it kills our own spirit.

There must be reasons you were not aware of your resentment until you couldn’t ignore it anymore. Usually, this is a symptom of co-dependence, meaning that you have an unconscious strategy of abandoning yourself to please/keep others until you’re so hurt from feeling wronged or fed up that you suddenly “blow.”

If you simply leave the relationship, which is very tempting at this point, I’m sure, you will find yourself repeating this pattern of self-abandonment – hurt – resentment – desire to leave. Even if you stay single for a while, you may create this pattern within friendships. So although I can’t tell you whether to stay or to go, I can support you in letting go of the illusion that leaving is the entire solution. Use what is in your life right now to heal your issue.

So what is the issue? Generally, we are co-dependent when we believe we will be abandoned or unloved if we ask for what we want or need. What messages did you get as a child about being lovable? How much security did you have? How has this impacted your current relationship? What have you been holding back? How have you sacrificed yourself in the relationship? Once you realize that the fear of abandonment and the sacrificing of your own needs is how your current difficulty arose, you can begin experiencing healing.

It takes practice to perceive yourself as worthy of love regardless of whether someone else can or is willing to provide it. Often, we have to address childhood traumas and beliefs to heal this dependency on others for our self-worth. The first step is trusting that you deserve to heal any mistaken beliefs that you are anything less than worthy of respect, compassion, and love. Once you question your painful, limiting beliefs and your old authorities and begin to affirm your own worthiness, you will notice three amazing results: 1. You will stop abandoning yourself. 2. You will no longer feel so threatened by others abandoning you. 3. Others will begin to mirror back to you your worthiness. All of these results will help heal your resentment.

In Enough Is Enough!, I write about how resentment is disguised regret. The resentment you feel towards your partner is really a regret that you haven’t treated yourself with the respect, compassion, and love that you wish he would provide.

So whether you stay in this relationship or leave, acknowledge that you have been a co-conspirator in the setup that has caused you to end up so resentful. Let yourself drop down into the underlying regret. Once you can take 100% responsibility for your part (responsibility = ability to respond) and take 100% responsibility for affirming your self-worth, the dynamics of your relationship will shift. As you love yourself, you will find both peace and clarity.

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Jane Straus is the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and thrive.

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Being Real: Lessons from The Breakfast Club

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Have you ever tried to look better on the outside than you were feeling on the inside? Do you ever abandon your truth to please others? If you weren’t afraid of losing someone’s approval, acceptance, or love, if you didn’t feel that you had to choose between abandoning yourself or being abandoned by someone else, wouldn’t you be authentic all the time with everyone? Wouldn’t you stand up for yourself more?

Whenever I am challenged to please others at the expense of being real, I think about Anais Nin’s eloquent quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” It is painful to hold ourselves back. At some point, we stop thriving and begin living in endurance when we believe we have to maintain an act rather than be real. But if we let our fear of abandonment run us, we bully ourselves into submission.

In the film, The Breakfast Club, five high school students are given detention for various infractions against school rules. Their punishment is to remain in the school library all Saturday with the task of completing one assignment: Each of them is to write a thousand-word essay describing who they think they are. Because the assignment seems silly and boring to them, they begin instead to try to figure out who the others in the room are.

At first, they buy each other’s act: the jock, the brain, the crazy one, the prom queen, the criminal. They cling to their own acts too, uncomfortably comfortable with their labels. But as they spend hour after hour together, their real selves peek through, and each of them starts to chafe against the restrictions of his or her image.

As they break out of their molds, their false sense of security and identity are shaken, but they ultimately come to respect each other. By the end of the day, they decide to write only one essay among them, conveying that, like the adults in their lives who see them only as they want to see them, in the most limited of ways, they also saw themselves that way before spending the day together. They write that what they learned is that each of them has attributes of the others within themselves. They are all capable of being smart, athletic, crazy, elitist, or rebellious. They are all of these things and yet they are so much more. They leave detention as comrades, having learned something crucial: judgments are real but they are never the truth. They also come to see that their self-judgments were the most restrictive of all, forcing them to behave in ways that limited them and fed their fear of others.

When in an act, we behave incongruently with what we really feel. Whatever our reasons and fears of being authentic—hurt, ridicule, abandonment—the problem is that after we have our act for a while, we can’t remember who we were without it. And if we can’t figure out who we are, how are others going to really know us? How can we have intimacy if we are not authentic? If we sacrifice intimacy for acceptance, our relationships feel lukewarm and boring. We may keep seeking hot and exciting, never realizing that, as Dylan Thomas said, “Something’s boring me; I think it’s me.”

The Breakfast Club reminds us that molding ourselves into the image of what others want and expect is cruel to our spirit. It takes courage to be authentic in every moment. But who we really are is much more interesting than any character we could possibly play.

Jane Straus is the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass pub.). Visit to view her TV and radio interviews, read articles and excerpts from her book, or to contact her for keynote presentations or personal coaching.