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Focusing Tip #709 – My abandonment issues are being triggered by my therapist meeting online

Focusing Tip #709 – My abandonment issues are being triggered by my therapist meeting online
June 24, 2020 Ann Weiser Cornell
"I have abandonment issues that are being triggered by my therapist's refusal to say if we will ever meet in person again...”

Focusing Tip #709 – My abandonment issues are being triggered by my therapist meeting online

What if communicating to another person about your triggered feelings is damaging your relationship? Read on…


A Reader writes:

Ever since the pandemic started, my therapist refuses to meet with me in person. On the one hand, I understand, she is trying to stay safe. I get that. But I have abandonment issues that are being triggered big time by her refusal to say if we will ever meet in person again. Lately our sessions have turned into sparring matches. I am clearly taking out my frustration on her as those traumatized feelings are stirred up.

Do you have any suggestions on how to frame this situation so that I can calm myself and so the whole interaction is not painful and damaging to me and my relationship with my therapist?

Dear Reader:

This is a hard one. I want to say: At least you are aware of what’s happening!

And I can hear that you really want to have a way to care for your own triggered feelings so there isn’t further damage, including to your relationship with your therapist.

I think the most important starting place, that can make a huge difference, is to start using my “something in me” language when you talk about this within yourself AND to your therapist.

For example: “Something in me is feeling abandoned when I think I may never see you in person again.”

Follow that up with: “And I am saying Hello to that in me.”

Relationships with other people become hugely easier to communicate in when we take that kind of responsibility for our triggered parts.

Yes, they are triggered, and the feelings are real… but when we direct them “at” the other person, nothing good can happen, and damage is likely… as you can already feel.

Using Presence Language is a way to express and address the feelings without blaming the other person for them. Yes, something in you does blame the other person! But really, you know they’re not to blame.

Your feelings need company — your company — and directing them outward means they don’t get that company, and the cycle of frustration and rejection continues.

Instead, YOU be the steady presence who turns inward and acknowledges to your feelings how strongly they feel.You don’t have to feel all peaceful and strong in order to do this!

Just start saying “something in me feels…. and I’m saying hello to that.” The language will take you there.

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