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Ep #227: Getting Anchored: Healing the Self-Abandonment Cycle

Feminist Wellness with Victoria Albina | Getting Anchored: Healing the Self-Abandonment Cycle

I asked the folks inside Anchored which theme that I talk about most encompasses their experience of emotional outsourcing: codependent, perfectionist, people-pleasing thinking, and the ramifications of experiencing and being in the world in this way. The resounding answer was the self-abandonment cycle.

Last week, I offered a refresher on what the self-abandonment cycle entails and why we unwittingly put ourselves through it. So, this week, we’re addressing how to heal from this cycle that most of us have been in since childhood and likely watched our caregivers enact in their own lives and with us.

Tune in this week to discover how to have your own back when you want to say no, instead of continuing to keep others happy at your expense by abandoning yourself. You’ll hear how to intervene when you notice the self-abandonment cycle playing out, and my favorite ways to recenter and ground myself when I’m in the cycle. 


The next cohort of Anchored starts June 20th 2023 and will likely be the last cohort for about a year. If you want in on the Anchored family, this is your chance, my love. Click here to apply now and reserve your seat!

What You’ll Learn:

The first step in healing from the self-abandonment cycle.

Several places where you can intervene when you find yourself in this cycle.

Questions to ask yourself about your tendency to self-abandon.

How to have your own back as you choose to no longer self-abandon.

What practicing secure attachment to yourself and others looks like.

How to recenter and ground yourself in situations where you feel like lashing out.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Ep #72: Anatomy of an Apology

Ep #73: 6 Steps to a Healthy and Meaningful Apology

Ep #74: The Dangers of False Pre-Apologies

Ep #75: Mastering the Language of Apologies

Ep #92: Radical Self-Responsibility

Ep #135: Attachment and Nervous System Resourcing

Ep #151: Resolutions, Regret and Commitment to You

Ep #162: Clean Fight Club Rules

Ep #163: The Self-Abandonment Cycle

Ep #164: Healing the Self-Abandonment Cycle

Corinne Crabtree

Full Episode Transcript:

This is Feminist Wellness, and I’m your host, Nurse Practitioner, Functional Medicine expert, and life coach, Victoria Albina. I’ll show you how to get unstuck, drop the anxiety, perfectionism, and codependency so you can live from your beautiful heart. Welcome, my love; let’s get started.

Hello, hello, my love. I hope this finds you doing so well. I hoped you enjoyed last week's conversation all about the self-abandonment cycle. It really is quite the doozy. I shared that episode last week, and I'm sharing this week's “Healing the Self-Abandonment Cycle”.

Because I asked the folks in Anchored, my six-month program, which episode, not really which episode, which theme that I talk about most encompasses their experience of emotional outsourcing, of codependent, perfectionist, and people-pleasing thinking? And the ramifications of that way of experiencing the world, of being in the world.

Over and over and over again, what I heard was self-abandonment. Yeah, when I prioritize my mom's wellness, self-abandonment. When I tell my husband I don't care what's for dinner, self-abandonment. When I agreed to move home to take care of my older parents, when I really just didn't want to, self-abandonment. When I gave everyone advice over and over and over again, instead of focusing on me and my life, self-abandonment.

On and on and on, we see these examples of self-abandonment when we live an externalizing life. A life where we're not centered and grounded in our own somatic or bodily experience. When we are not embodied. When we are outside of our body, managing other people in their lives and their experiences and them, them, them, and not us, self-abandonment.

We come by it honestly. It’s a guilt free, shame free, place always; Feminist Wellness. I learned this in childhood. I bet you did. And if you're like, “I don't do this,” maybe your best friend does. Your partner does. Your mom did. Someone in your life, due to their socialization, their conditioning, their experience in childhood, in their family of origin. I learned all about it. I thought it was the right thing to do, the noble thing to do, the good girl thing to do. Well, the self-abandonment part. Not really the whole self-abandonment cycle where you freak out at somebody, lash out, panic, rage, break the plate, or whatever you did in your moment of “Aargh!” sympathetic activation with no place to go.

We honor that experience, right? I'm not saying it's good or it's right or it's good for you. I'm saying we honor that it's real, right? Because it is and you deserve to live in another way. And so, today and without further ado, because I'm doing quite a bit here, we're going to talk about how to step out of this cycle. I'm so excited to share this with you.

As always, if you are loving the show, you're loving what you're hearing, Anchored is the place for you. Head on over to to learn more and to apply now. This is the last gasp.


We are unlikely offering Anchored again in the next, probably at least, a year. I'm working on other projects; I’m cooking some big things. It's very exciting over here. We’re going to take a little hiatus in Anchored, for like a hot minute. So, if you want the healing you can get there, and only there, join us.


Alright, here we go. Enjoy the episode. It's going to be a good one.


Hello, hello my love. I hope this finds you doing so well. So, last week, we

talked all about the self-abandonment cycle. If you are just tuning into the

show, welcome. Hello, I’m so happy to have you here. I really want to

encourage you to listen to Episode 163, last week’s show, or this week just

won’t make any sense. And that’s silly.


So, take a moment. Go back, listen to last week, and come on right back

here, my love. I’m so happy you’re here. Okay, so last week we talked

about this cycle. We overdo for others, we over-function, we do things

people haven’t asked us to do, things people could totally do for



We live their lives for us. And we do this from our codependent,

perfectionist, and people-pleasing habits because we unwittingly - note the

unwittingly. I’m not throwing any of us under the bus. But we learned in

childhood that this is how you get love. This is how you get connection.


How you feel significant and important and valuable in the world, is by doing way too much for everyone else. Saying yes, yes, yes all the time, because somewhere along the line, you learned that being selfless is the thing and being selfish is terrible. I have a lot of thoughts about that. Mostly, that it’s really important to have a sense of self. It’s really important to know yourself, to know what matters to you, to know your limits, to have boundaries.


This is a key part of overcoming codependency. Vital to that is knowing who you are in the world. Being connected with your authenticity.


Okay, my loves, how do we heal from this cycle that most of us have been in since childhood, and likely watched our caregivers enact themselves in their own lives and often with us? Well, the first step is of course, awareness. You need to know you’re doing it, and we don’t know. It sort of catches us unaware that we’re somewhere in this cycle, spinning and spinning, and making ourselves and the people we love miserable along the way.


So, awareness, pausing, journaling every day, has been such a gift. Journaling and doing thought work, and really doing the work of seeing my

own mind, seeing my habitual thinking, and what I’m calling a “fact” when it’s really just my thoughts about the matter.


I also pair that, of course, with somatic work, with bodily work, so I can be

present and aware in my physiology. So, I can know what the “what” is at any given moment throughout my day. So, once this cycle has started, there are several points where you can intervene.


One, before doing something for someone else, whether that’s agreeing to

do something that’s been asked of you, or inventing something to do to help others, or buying, or making, or cleaning for others, pause and breathe into it. Get present with yourself. This is the somatic piece.


Coming home to you before you say yes, and asking yourself: Do I like my

reasons why I would say yes to this? Do I like the reasons why I am doing

this? What is my motivation for doing this? What do I hope the outcome will

be? Am I trying to make someone else have an emotion or think something

about me? Am I trying to get their validation or my own?


Am I trying to keep up a perfect appearance here, by saying yes to

something I don’t want to do? Am I trying to win someone’s love or care?

Does it feel dependent on my saying ‘yes’ here? Am I trying to feel

better about myself by doing this? Am I buffering against a feeling I don't

want to have, by saying ‘yes’?


Meaning, you’re trying to take action to try to assuage your guilt. Either you

just blew up so you’re fixing to over-function or overdo, or you set a

boundary and are worried, often from anxious attachment, that your partner, date, friend, whomever, won’t like you or will be mad at you. So, you feel that urge, that pull, and drive to make up for it.


To thus, curry their favor because you think that will lead you to feel

better about yourself. To tell a different story about who you are, because

you don’t believe you’re a good person if you say ‘no’. What will the impact

or result of doing this thing be in your own life?


Will doing it, whether it’s volunteering for a board, to bake cupcakes for the school, or to cook tonight when you’ve done it every night for the last month, while taking them to the airport, or listening to their hard day take you away from doing what you want and need to do for you? And how are you going to feel about it after you’ve done it?


Which leads us to the last question, and this is so important: Are you likely

to feel resentful or annoyed if you don’t get validation for doing the thing? Is

how you will feel about having done this thing, dependent on other people’s responses to it? On someone else’s approval of you? On someone else continuing to think of you as the goddess who does it all?


Once you answer these questions from a place of radical honesty, true

honesty, honesty that resonates in your body, you’ll have your answer. Listen, we are lovers, we are kind, we are people who love to do for others,

and there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.


And the work in breaking this self-abandonment cycle, is to stop doing

things that leave you feeling like you abandoned yourself. That’s what it’s

all about. So yes, you can use thought work post-facto to decide that you’re

not going to feel abandoned. Totally a viable, great option. You can also decide that you matter, too. That you don’t always have to say ‘yes’ to others when it takes you away from yourself.


You can decide that you can find your way to interdependence, and that you can say ‘yes’ sometimes, when it feels mutually loving and kind. And you can say ‘no’ when doing the thing is like buying that one-way ticket

to the lousiest vacation destination on Earth, you guessed it, resentmentville, USA. Population: Just you, sitting in the corner feeling resentful and grumpy while everyone else is like, “Hey, thanks for doing a thousand things for us.”


So, if that train has left the station, and you said ‘yes’ to doing the thing and

you’re starting to feel annoyed, irritated, angry, and resentful, that’s when

you get to remember that 99.99% of the time, no one is holding a gun to

your head telling you, you have to do the thing. You get to remind yourself that you did, in fact, have agency there.


That you made the choice to do for others. And you don’t have to compound your suffering by telling any other story. You made a choice.

Of course, I’m not speaking to situations of abuse or coercion here. I’m

talking about you choosing to do all the chores, or all the work on a group

project, or choosing to create a lavish meal, or buy everyone complex

presents, or do all the emotional labor, and to then feel grumped about it.


You also get to remember that even though you said ‘yes’ you’re welcome

to change your mind. One of the things we work with so much in Anchored,

is consent. Consent for everything we do. The folks in Anchored consent to

be coached. They put their hand up. They say, “Coach me please,” and

before I do, I say, “Do I have your consent to coach you?”


Because this is so important, when we have been riding this train around

and around and around our whole lives, we forget that so often, we

consented to do the thing. And that consent that is freely given, is freely

taken away. Just because you said ‘yes’ to baking the brownies or whatever it is, that doesn’t mean you have to stay in that yes.


You can say, “I’ve changed my mind, I’m no longer available.” We’ll be

getting into that more in just a minute. So, when you’re pausing and

reminding yourself, “Wow, I did say yes to this. I did consent to this,” that’s

when self-compassion is vital.


You only do this thing, the over-giving, over-functioning, overdoing, because you were trained to, socialized, and conditioned to, by the patriarchy, your family of origin. Because you learned, particularly in a codependent household, that the good girl gets the love. The perfectionist gets the praise. The people pleaser gets the accolades.


You learned that this is a really great way to get through life. And no doubt,

it was. But over-giving until it bleeds, just isn’t anymore, when you’re

swirling in this cycle of abandoning your own desires, getting angry about it,

lashing out, and then working to make up for it. So please, be kind to you. Be gentle with you.


Recognize that this cycle is likely one that was modeled for you in childhood and you’re just doing what you were taught. There is no need to be angry at yourself for just doing what you were taught to do. There’s no need to continue to do it, either.


And yeah, people aren’t going to like it at first. That’s likely to feel challenging, and that’s okay too. It’s okay to choose the discomfort of other people recognizing that you’re not superwoman. You’re just wonderful, regular woman.


It’s okay to choose the discomfort of other people being surprised by your

‘no’ and having to make accommodations for their own lives when you stop

living their lives for them. People will adjust. It takes a lot of self-love to

have your own back, while they learn that you’re no longer available to do

everything for them. That’s a choice you get to make for you, for them, for your relationships, for your family.


Because you no longer want to choose to self-abandon. Because you’re no longer available to light yourself on fire to keep other people warm. You also get to remind yourself that the answer to chronically saying ‘yes’ is

not always saying ‘no’. The answer lies in the interdependent middle. It’s like a pendulum.


People think that if they’ve been living at one extreme of always saying ‘yes’, they need to swing to the other extreme completely and

they need to become this wildly independent person who does nothing for

no one. But that’s no way to be in a loving, caring relationship.


I imagine that one of your goals in listening to this show week after week is to build more loving, caring relationships with yourself and others. My darling, we don’t need to swing from being anxiously attached to avoidantly attached. We get to practice being securely attached to ourselves and to others.


We get to learn that it’s okay to say ‘yes’ when that feels right for us, and ‘no’ when that feels right for us. It’s beautiful to be loving and kind and to take care of others. And it’s beautiful to be loving and kind and to not always want to take care of others. To let them take care of themselves

sometimes. It’s all about that reciprocity and balance, my darlings. That’s the place of true loving kindness to self and others. What a beautiful energetic to put out into the world.


So, let’s say you agreed to do the thing while your whole body was screaming ‘no’. Here you are, neck deep in something you don’t want to be doing, and you’re starting to feel that annoyance or that resentment, that irritation, rise within you. Those protest emotions that have historically led to protest behaviors in your life, lashing out and being a meany-pants. Which as we know, starts the cycle over again.


This is when we lean on somatics and thought work, to stop the train of destruction that is you, from ramming into the people you love at a billion miles an hour. It starts with removing yourself from the situation, just long enough that you can get grounded in you again, before you lash out.


My favorite thing to do is to excuse myself to the bathroom. It’s a place where you can be alone for a moment. Well, maybe not, if you have toddlers. But hopefully you can get a second in there alone, to recenter and to ground yourself.


What we then need to do somatically, is to connect in with our

Resources. Which we talked all about in Episode 135. Often, after we’ve

connected in with our resources, we may need to calm the nervous system.

So, that can look like a slow breath in, long slow out. Remember my

nerds, it’s the long slow out that brings us into parasympathetic. If you’re

taking a long breath in and a long breath out, that can help. But really, it’s

the focus on the out; long and slow, let your body calm.


It can look like gently stroking your hands together, or doing an orienting

exercise to bring yourself back into this present moment. I have a free

orienting exercise download available on Right at the

top of the page, you’ll see a big teal banner. Just click on it and that’ll take

you to the page. You put your name and your email in, and you get that

orienting exercise right to your inbox.


Now, your nervous system may need more than just being calmed. When

we feel put upon, unappreciated, resentful, often, that comes with

sympathetic activation; with adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol. What

we need, when we have that rush of neurochemicals, is movement.


Is to complete the stress activation cycle. And to release the movement potential that got trapped within us when our bodies were screaming, “No, I don’t want to listen right now. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be a part of this,” but we said ‘yes’ from all of our training. Because that big ‘no, I want to run away. I want to scream. I want to escape’ energy, that is what gets trapped in our bodies. And we need to let it out so we can actually find our center.


So, that can look like taking a deep breath in, bringing your shoulders up to your ears, bringing your arms to your side, and tensing, tensing, tensing your arm muscles and your shoulders. And then whoosh, releasing your hands downward. I like to make jazz hands at the bottom, because it makes me giggle just a little bit. Which can bring us toward ventral vagal, safe and social.


This can also look like clapping your hands together repeatedly. And if

you’re in the loo, you can flush the toilet to cover the noise. If you have use of your legs, then it can look like doing jumping jacks. Or going up to the balls of your feet, and down to your heels. To the balls of your feet, and down to your heels. Moving, right? We’re trying to bring movement in.


It can look like squeezing something repeatedly and releasing. That can

be a ball or a rolled-up pair of socks, and you can squeeze and release,

squeeze and release. The work here, is to work with that energy that’s

trapped in your body, until the energy of resentment and irritation starts to

dissipate from your soma, from your body.


From there, we do thought work. Only once our nervous systems are in

a state where we can do that. When we are feeling ourselves, ‘okay, I can

see straight now. My vision has cleared, I’m not just seeing red. I don’t

just feel murderful. I’m coming back into myself. Back to my ventral vagal

anchor. Back into the safe and social part of me.’ Because it’s only from there that we can have loving conversations and not project our internal swirling onto others.


And then, it’s boundaries time. It’s time to set limits. It’s time to say, and I know this is super scary the first few times, and that’s okay. I promise it gets easier; it gets better. It’s just a muscle you need to keep flexing and releasing, baby. You are likely to survive it, I promise.


By the way, setting those boundaries, setting those limits, is so much

better than the alternative. Which is to continue to do the thing you don’t

want to do, to lash out, and to overcompensate. Right? So, you get to say, “Baby, I’m not available to make dinner tonight. I’m not in a place to be on the phone right now. I can help you clean up tomorrow, but only after you’ve done your share of it. I hear that you’re struggling and I’ve had a long day myself. Let’s talk about this tomorrow.”


“My darling, I said yes to having this conversation because we promised we

would abide by our Clean Fight Club rules.” Episode 162. “And I’m not here

for this conversation until you can talk to me the way we agreed to. My

capacity has changed, and I’m no longer available to help you with that. I

trust you’ll be able to do it on your own, or to find someone else who can

support you.”


And then, and then, and I want you to be prepared for this before you set

the limit, here’s where thought work comes in so you can manage your

feelings around saying ‘no’. Again, if you’re new to this, you’re likely to

have a lot of guilt and shame for not being everything to everyone always,

and that’s okay.


You get to let yourself feel it. To really feel all those feels To cry about it. To

go for a run about it. To journal about it. To dance it out. But what I don’t

want you to do, and what I imagine you don’t want to do either, is to buffer

against those feelings. To drink or smoke about it, to eat about it, to over-

function about it, to harm yourself about it. Instead, you get to really let yourself feel it and to be in all the emotions.


All while choosing a thought like, “It’s okay for me to have needs. It’s okay for me to have wants and desires. It’s okay for me to take care of myself. It’s okay for me to not want to do all the things. It’s okay for me to rest. I am a human, and I get to have my own preferences and wants too. It’s okay if those don’t line up perfectly with what everyone else wants of me, even if I’ve always done all those things that I didn’t really want to do. It’s okay to want to change the script now, with love for myself and the people

in my world.”


You get to remind yourself, when you’re feeling taken advantage of or

resentful for doing all the things you don’t want to do in the first place, that

it’s okay for others to do what’s right for them. Just like it is for you. That it’s

okay for others to have limits and to set boundaries and not to disrespect

themselves, just because you always have.


So, let’s say you didn’t do any of that. You engaged in that old protest

Behavior: you lashed out, you jabbed, you were mean, you guilted, you

shamed, you blamed, you said things like, “Ugh, I do so much for you and

you can’t do this one little thing for me.” Now what?


Well, we start with the nervous system, always. Story-follows-state is

something we say in the nervous system world all the time, because it’s so

true. The story you tell about yourself and others is wildly different when

you’re jacked up in sympathetic activation, closed down in dorsal vagus, or

when you’re grounded, oriented, and somatically, bodily present in ventral



So, attend to the animal that you are, first and foremost. Find your way back to calm and grounded. Release energy like we talked about. Shake your hands vigorously, run your wrists under the cold tap water to bring in a tiny touch of activation energy. If you’re feeling shut down after lashing out,

come home to you first. Get anchored in you first.


And then, and then, you get to apologize without getting defensive, without

protesting and telling your side of the story, “I always do so much...” No, no,

no, my darling. We get to apologize from our big, open hearts without

making our self-abandonment choices anyone else’s responsibility.


We talked all about self-responsibility in Episode 92. We talked all

about how to apologize in a loving, kind way, in the mini-series from Episode 72 to 75. So, go listen to those shows to learn about different ways to apologize, what to say and not to.


You get to apologize to yourself too, for not taking care of you the way

you most want to. While also not guilting or shaming yourself because

again, you were just doing and being how you thought would get you the

most love, care, connection, and acceptance.


You just had an old playbook, my darling. One that no longer serves the you you’re working to be in the world. The one who knows that you matter, too. The one who no longer chooses situations where you're likely to be resentful and frustrated in the end.


You get to do it all with empathy, love, and compassion. With gallons of

self-acceptance of the person you’ve been. So, you can lovingly become

the you with the habits you want to have in the world. You get to use

thought work to choose your next thought on purpose and ahead of time.


To not choose to be mean to you for being mean. You get to choose

your actions ahead of time, too. Which is such an amazing part of thought

work. You get to decide here and now, that you won’t go back down the rabbit hole of overcompensating for your missteps. Because you understand now that that just starts the cycle over again.


And instead, you get to show up in a way that’s proportionate. To make

amends and apologize, without over-functioning any longer. Which takes

practice, commitment. Which we talked about in Episode 151. And a

dedication to living a life you love based in embodied, somatically present,

interdependence, every step of the way.


My beauty, I’ll close by saying this. When the people in our world are used

to us doing everything for them, it can be a big shift for us to no longer do

those things. It’s worth talking about. It’s worth having direct

communication about, so everyone knows what you are and aren’t available for. So, they’re not as likely to feel abandoned either, after years of having you do all the things.


I get that that can feel challenging. But once again, isn’t it so much harder to continue to live in this painful cycle? And to continue to not have your own back? To continue to put yourself out over and over, and to feel like crap about it? To then treat yourself and the other poorly because of it?


My brilliant colleague and teacher Corinne Crabtree says, “You get to choose your hard.” Because both paths are hard, at first. And you really do have to pick one or the other, at some point. So, which will you choose, my perfect tender ravioli, my sweetest little kitten? To start to have your own back?


To say ‘no’ when you want to say ‘no’? When your body tells you to say ‘no’? To build your somatic awareness of what a ‘no’ feels like in your body, so you can heed and honor it? Or to continue to try to keep others happy at your expense? To abandon yourself and to lash out?


My beauty, I choose the former. It’s not always easy, and it is always

worth it; pinky promise. Thanks for listening, my love.


If you’ve been listening to the show and you are loving what you hear. You’re loving the transformation you’re feeling in your life from listening and

applying what you’re learning. If you are ready to get the support and love

and care you need to get out of this really painful self-abandonment cycle

and to take your life back, you’re not going to want to miss this next offering

of Anchored.


My six-month program, to support humans socialized as

women just like you, to live a life without the old anxiety, stress, and

overwhelm of codependency. is where you can learn all about it. Apply now. If you’ve been wanting to join, join now.

Why not, my darlings? Why not?

Alright, my beauties, let’s do what we do. A gentle hand on your heart, if you feel so moved. And remember, you are safe. You are held. You are loved. And when one of us heals, we help heal the world. Be well, my sweet one. I’ll talk to you soon.

If you've been enjoying the show and learning a ton, it's time to apply it with my expert guidance. So, you can live life with intention, without the anxiety, overwhelm, and resentment. So, you can get unstuck. You're not going to want to miss the opportunity to join my exclusive, intimate, group-coaching program. So, head on over to to grab your seat now. See you there; it's going to be a good one!

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