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Fear of loss: I can't live without you

Fear of loss - the great fear of losing the partner and loved one

Everyone knows the feeling of fear - when suddenly all thoughts revolve around this one topic and we are almost frozen. It is the same with the fear of loss, the fear of being abandoned by someone valued, no longer recognized and loved. It occurs particularly frequently in partnerships, but any relationship, including friends or family, can be affected. We talked to the psychologist and book author Dr. Ulrike Sammer, who has dealt intensively with the issue of fear of loss. Fear of loss can show up in a wide variety of life situations - be it in relation to the partner, friendships or one's own children. In what relationship, in your experience, is the fear of loss worst?
Dr. Ulrike Sammer: How much fear of loss hurts depends on the importance of a relationship for the person concerned. It is very different. Anyone who has the feeling that they "cannot live" without this relationship, who has no idea for a new life plan, no strategies for coping with grief, may develop strong fears.

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What are the most common causes of fear of loss? Can you say that across the board?
People with fear of loss could never learn to deal with the pain of loss. Instead of coping strategies, their parents only conveyed helplessness to them. With new losses, these old feelings come up again. In any case, the beginning was always an experience of loss in childhood that was not adequately recognized and processed. The decisive factor here is not the loss itself, but the inability of the caregiver to recognize the child's suffering and to take it seriously. There are some bad things to do with this:

  • The fearfulness in the family
  • The tendency to depression in the family
  • Helpless caregivers
  • Caregivers who did not recognize the (child's) problem
  • Caregivers who did not express their feelings
  • Caregivers who did not introduce the children to life
  • Education to become dependent
  • Raising yourself to have poor self-esteem
  • A lack of general forms of coping (such as mourning rituals)

Does fear of loss have a lot to do with self-confidence?
If you define self-confidence in such a way that you are aware of your abilities in all situations, there is certainly a connection. It is true, however, that there are a number of people who are very good at various areas of their life (such as their professional activity) because they have learned through experience how to deal with them. The profession is learned in adolescence or adulthood (i.e. at a time of greater maturity) and is usually introduced by competent teachers. That brought security and self-confidence in this part of life. But how to deal with interpersonal relationships and closeness is a learning process from day one. The family influences are therefore formative and if they were not helpful, this (sometimes) has a lifelong effect. There are quite a few people who "work" very well at work, but act like anxious toddlers in relationships. We reveal how you can strengthen your self-confidence and strengthen your self-confidence.

What exactly is the difference between fear of loss and jealousy?
Jealousy is a branch of the fear of loss. It feeds many behaviors that attempt to prevent a particular loss (such as overcontrol or suppression). But the fear of loss goes much further. It is all about loss of any kind that gives rise to this dreaded feeling of absolute helplessness. One cannot be jealous of fate, death and other catastrophes, but the old "bleeding wound" from childhood comes up anyway.

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How do you fight the fear of loss? Can you "treat yourself" or should you seek professional help?
If you want to save your own life from falling apart through pain and despair, and actively face a change, you have several options depending on the severity of the problems: your own steps to change, support from a partner, family and friends, self-help groups and psychotherapeutic help. It is very different from one individual to the next, whether one can get out of emotional injuries alone or whether it is better to accept help from others. If you "get to work" yourself, you have to slowly internalize the following points: I can influence relationships. I am no longer at the mercy of people staying with me or leaving, except through death. I don't have to cheat or use terror, but I can behave in such a way that some people appreciate me and seek my closeness voluntarily. I can build continuity myself.

When I need to feel safe and secure, I can create constant relationships and a network of clubs, parishes and interest groups. I can mobilize my own resources. For example, it helps many people when they write about their loss or the fear of it. The most effective is without a doubt psychotherapy. Your goals are mainly trust-building (the therapist is sometimes the first person to whom trust can be built), reality testing (the numerous prejudices, accepted assessments of the caregivers and your own fantasies must be checked for their truthfulness), understanding for yourself and what you have experienced find concrete behavior changes
Whichever form you choose for yourself: It takes time and honesty with yourself to enter into a healing process of acceptance, to slowly build trust in yourself and the environment, and to finally restructure your life.

Read more: In her book "The fear of loss and how we overcome it", Dr. Ulrike Sammer dealt intensively with the fear of loss and separation. It explains, gives tips and supports your readers in dealing with the fear of loss. Here you can order the book "The fear of loss and how we overcome it".

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