Family Tree Counseling

I love Here are some highlights from their podcasts:

A better way to say Fear of Abandonment is crazy jealousy issues, when someone over-reacts when they perceive you backing away from them. They react emotionally, not rationally. It’s probably the most painful issue people have to deal with.

Someone with abandonment issues is emotionally little on the inside. There was some form of abandonment in their childhood. Having a healthy relationship is going to be difficult because there’s going to be a lot of drama and reactivity in their relationships.

When your abandonment issues come up, try not to react. The goal is detachment.

We attract the people we need in our life to help us work out all of our issues. They don’t feel like gifts because they’re so painful, but otherwise you wouldn’t have the opportunity to reach those deep wounds you’ve carried around all your life. This gives you access.

This is an opportunity to work out your old wounds with someone who’s committed himself to you.

People don’t often come to therapy and say, “I want to explore the pain of my inner child.” Rather, they say, “My wife had an affair…” That’s what gets them in the door — wanting to fix the marriage. They have urgency and pain. There’s a flood of motivated clients who want to work.

If you don’t have insight into your abandonment issues, you’re going to attack your spouse rather than to ask for help. You’ll whine and demand and pry and try to control. Are you willing to become vulnerable enough to get better?

If you play the card, “I’m going to leave you,” you’ve got abandonment issues and you’re probably stuck on a rollercoaster. What will you come home to? I had a GF who played this on me, I got triggered and dumped her and then we’d get back together and I’d get ticked with her and abandon her and she’d cry and throw things and threaten to ruin my life.

If you married that person, you’re as healthy as they are.

Everyone’s fear of abandonment surfaces differently.

Co-dependency is linked to abandonment — doing things for others without paying attention to yourself. You have to be the hero or the martyr or the rescuer.

We use addiction to cover up our shame.

When we have shame issues, we tend to go into shame spirals. If you believe you’re not good enough, you don’t measure up, you’re worthless. If you have those beliefs, you can’t pull yourself out of the spiral.

The spiral starts with something small happens and then you believe you’re a horrible person and your spouse will leave you and your kids will hate you and you think that everything in your life is awful and this is the big truth about me, that I’m terrible.

When we have shame, we have filters. We can’t wait to prove that we are not good enough. We’re just waiting for someone to point it out. Our filter perceives what people say to us inaccurately.

There’s often a wall of shame between two people that keeps communication from being effective.

Once a person gets defensive, the conversation is over. All they’re thinking about is how to protect themselves.

If you know someone who’s defensive, you’re dealing with someone who has a lot of shame. If our filter interprets something as critical and we get consumed by shame, that causes our defensiveness. We feel awful about ourselves. It’s icky. So we defend ourselves. Some people are so well defended that they don’t even feel shame.

Anger is a secondary emotion, it is secondary to fear or pain. You’ve learned to deal with your fear and pain by way of anger.

If you have no anger, you have no protection. You have no boundaries. People can just run you over.

You don’t have to be vulnerable with somebody if you’re angry.

Healthy anger means you are able to bring things up with people when you need to.

When you are reactive, nobody hears you. You could be screaming the cure for cancer in the parking lot and people will think you’re crazy.

If you want to recover from an affair, you have to dig into why the affair happened. What was going on in the marriage to make it susceptible to an affair. We think of an affair as acting out.

Addictions are the part of the iceberg above the water. That’s where people get stuck — dealing with the addiction. But what is under the surface? That’s where the work gets done.

If you can’t see yourself outside of the relationship, then you’ll do anything to stay in it. You’ll be needy.

* I notice people putting tremendous store on other people’s tossed-off opinions that are not likely to be rooted in reality. One friend found great relief when his ex-wife told him that he made her a better person. I understand and share this hunger for validation from external sources, it’s a lot easier than learning to validate yourself. One way I validate myself is when I enjoy reading something I’ve written. That’s one way I know it’s good.

* I’m fascinated by the strand in 12-step thought that does not consider a person sober until he’s off his happy pills. While not universally true, there’s something to it. Happy pills are often a way of not hitting bottom and realizing you’re in a hopeless place and therefore becoming willing to work a program. On the other hand, plenty of people would become suicidal if they went off their meds, so I ain’t advocating that.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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