Healing Childhood Abandonment Trauma on Your Own

In this article, you will learn various techniques to heal from abandonment trauma. You can practice these skills and techniques completely on your own to…


In this article, you will learn various techniques to heal from abandonment trauma.

You can practice these skills and techniques completely on your own to heal. This is especially helpful if you cannot attend therapy for any reason right now. And, if you can work with a therapist, you can practice these skills together.

Healing Childhood Abandonment Trauma

Childhood trauma often impacts many areas of your life including your relationships and self-esteem.

Commonly, this type of trauma can lead to anxious attachment. In your relationships, you may find that you tend to be a people pleaser and may struggle with codependency. You may struggle to express your needs or set boundaries to not “burden” others.

This all stems from the fear that if you don’t always accommodate others than they will leave you.

healing childhood abandonment trauma
From Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment and Building Lasting, Loving Relationships

And these effects can be long-lasting.

Because of all this, it can feel intimidating or even impossible, at times, to heal childhood trauma. Yet, it’s completely possible!

Options for Healing Childhood Abandonment Trauma

When you are healing from abandonment trauma, it’s always recommended that you seek therapy if possible.

Specifically, you may choose to look into trauma therapy and/or attachment based therapy. You may learn more about these options here.

However, there are times where you may be struggling to find the right therapist for you. Or cost may be a barrier. If this is the case, please know you can still heal your abandonment wounds. Skills and techniques to heal this trauma on your own are provided throughout the rest of this article.

Related: What to Do if You Can’t Afford Therapy Right Now

Showing Up for Your Healing

Attachment theory explains how connection with other human beings is a fundamental need. We all need to feel connect to and safe with other human beings for our mental and physical wellness.

Healing childhood abandonment trauma

However, when your need for safety was interrupted with childhood abandonment trauma, you naturally will struggle to feel safe, trust, and connected to other human beings. And often to yourself. This leads to a non-secure attachment style.

Related: Understanding the Theory of Attachment for Better Relationships

Becoming a Safe Person for Yourself

Childhood abandonment trauma may lead you to naturally feel then that you cannot fully trust yourself. You may experience self-esteem issues, self-sabotage, neglect your self-care and/or neglect to self-protect with healthy boundaries. Understandably, you may feel not fully safe with yourself.

While it’s wonderful – and important – to eventually build safe, trusting connections with others, you can heal abandonment trauma by first focusing on your relationship with yourself.

Getting Unstuck from Your Trauma

Childhood trauma often leads people to feel stuck. For example, you may sometimes get triggered into feeling helpless and powerless – like a child – when someone takes to long to respond to you or ignores you.

This feeling of being a child makes sense because trauma makes the past feel like a present. However, this is in contrast to the reality that you are now an adult. You have options. No longer are you truly as helpless or powerless as a child is when they are neglected or abandoned.

From The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Becoming a Safe, Trustworthy Adult

Much of trauma healing is helping you feel empowered as an adult. In therapy, it always marks a pivotal moment in someone’s trauma recovery when they tell me they now feel “more grown up” or like an “adult.”

From this place, they are now a safe person for themselves. They self-care rather than self-neglect. And they protect themselves with healthy boundaries rather than letting others mistreat them out of fear of abandonment.

And you may actively work on becoming a safe adult for yourself.

Caring for Your Childhood Pain

A primary skill to become a safe person for yourself is with inner child work.

This involves connecting with your younger self as your grown-up adult self. Your adult self has options to set boundaries in relationships, cope well with emotions, and find ways to nurture yourself. You comfort this authentic, yet wounded, child part of you as your ideal, healthy adult self.

Related: An Essential Therapy Skill: Wise Mind from DBT

Of course, you may naturally feel uncomfortable with the idea of reconnecting with your inner child. After all, this is where all that abandonment trauma lives. However, to truly heal, it’s valuable to become more self-compassionate and self-caring. Inner child work provides a clear pathway to give yourself kindness to heal from abandonment trauma.

Being Kind to Yourself

Abandonment trauma often leads a person to be highly self-critical. While understandable, unfortunately, this only leads to more pain and anxiety.

To heal, it’s important to cultivate unconditional self-love and kindness. You can do this by connecting with your inner child. Here you cultivate a mature, loving part of you who can guide and teach this younger part of you. All children are inexperienced and immature, this is their nature.

You can cultivate a part of you that can act as the healthy, loving parent you may not have had growing up. Learning how to love yourself is, in part, a process of learning to reparent yourself and give yourself the love, guidance, and comfort you still need.

Related: 4 Practical Tips to Learn How to Be Nice to Yourself

Caring for Your Inner Child

As a loving adult, you dialogue with your wounded part. When you need comfort, you practice self-care. When you’re scared or insecure, you may affirm yourself. If you are sad or angry, you find healthy ways to cope with these emotions. When others have hurt you, you set boundaries and speak up to protect yourself.

You may also actively dialogue with your inner child as your adult self with a journaling practice. See the below image for guidance:

Staying Connected to Yourself

Being a safe adult to your wounded younger parts is an ongoing process. Over time, as you practice being more self-caring, reassuring, and self-protective, you heal your abandonment trauma.

You realize that there was never anything inherently wrong with you which led to your abandonment.

Rather this was due to the choices the adults in your life made when you were a child. As you care for your inner child, you realize how innately worthy and deserving of love you really are. You will know with certainty there absolutely are people who will appreciate you and want to stay in your life!

And you are one of these people who will never abandon yourself!

An Exercise Heal from Childhood Abandonment Trauma

In this exercise, you will identify one childhood abandonment wound. For some, you may notice a long list of wounds. For this exercise please do not overwhelm yourself – show yourself compassion by picking just one wound for now. Learning how to pace your healing journey gently is part of showing yourself love.

Now prepare to take some quiet time alone to journal. You will be writing a loving letter to your inner child. This exercise may seem cheesy or unfamiliar so you may imagine writing this letter to a child you already love perhaps your own or a niece or nephew. If you don’t have children in your life, you may imagine how you ideally think all children should be spoken to from a loving and kind place.

Journaling Prompt for Your Healing

This letter will follow a simple script. First, you will open the letter with a greeting to your inner child. Next, you will identify your core negative belief with the phrase “I know you made up…” and fill it in. Following this, you will identify the event which led to this belief. Finally, you will explain to this child self what you now know or would like to believe from a more self-loving place. Remember, you are writing this imagining the energy you would give towards a child you love or how you believe children should be treated ideally. This letter may be as long or short as you prefer but please allow yourself the time for this exercise to intuitively feel “complete.”

An example is here:

Dear little me,

I know you made up “No one will ever truly love you” when your dad barely saw you growing up. What I know now is some men – some people – make hurtful choices because they are selfish. Your dad was being selfish. This was never about your worth rather he didn’t know how to be a dad – and chose not to learn how to be a good dad for you. This is about him not you. Your dad would have failed to show up for any child in his life at that time – not just you. He was just selfish and did not know how to treat you with respect. That being said, you have always deserved respect and I love you. You are awesome!

Moving Forward

Healing from childhood abandonment trauma is completely possible. And it takes ongoing dedication to yourself.

Moving forward, it’s encouraged you maintain a process of journaling with your inner child. Especially when you feel insecure or triggered.

It’s also essential to act as a caring, safe adult by working on having healthy boundaries and self-caring regularly. After all, you want to break any cycles of neglecting and/or abandoning yourself which reinforce your trauma. You want to prove to yourself you are a safe adult who will never leave yourself.

Recommended Reading

To heal from your childhood adulthood trauma, here are some recommended resources:

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About The Author

Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist and author with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to find their voice, deepen their ability to self-love, and improve their relationships.

Her newest book, Setting Boundaries: 100 Ways to Protect Yourself, Strengthen Your Relationships and Build the Life You Want…Starting Now! (Therapy Within Reach), gives you the tools necessary to identify, set, and stay firm with your boundaries.

Her other books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many overcome people pleasing, self-neglect, and resentment to have a healthier relationship with themselves and others.

If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to krystal@confidentlyauthentic.com or DM her on Instagram. We will always keep your name and other identifying information confidential.

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