Maybe you were raised with the notion that kids are meant “to be seen and not heard,” meaning ‘don’t speak until you are spoken to.” Perhaps you often heard “stop that crying or I’m going to give you something to cry about.” Or my personal favorite, “I put clothes on your back, shoes on your feet, and food on the table” to imply that all of your basic needs are being met. These messages can have negative ramifications on a child’s psyche because of the lack of emotional awareness, validation, compassion, or emotion care to the child.
Worse still, there are many children who suffer from Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). These children were raised to believe that not only do their ideas not matter, but neither do their feelings or needs. Though the words may never have been said, the actions, or lack of, announced loud and clear: You don’t matter.
These children grow up to become adults who still believe they don’t matter, and that they shouldn’t burden others with their needs or feelings. But this cycle of worthlessness can be broken.
Here are 3 ways you can heal from childhood emotional neglect:
- Embrace Your Needs and Emotions
You most likely grew up believing your own needs and emotions were the enemy. You may have even been made to feel ashamed because of them. In order to heal you must embrace your needs and emotions and invite them to play an active role in your life. You can do this by listening to yourself and honoring the way you feel. When understood and managed, emotions can propel us and help facilitate positive change.
- Invite People into Your Life
Growing up, you might have felt like adults were the enemy. After all, it was the adults in your life that made you feel worthless. As an adult, you may have a natural instinct to keep people at a safe distance, to “protect” yourself. But, in order to heal, you have to stop pushing people away and, instead, invite them into your life. When we form relationships with genuine, caring and honest people, we feel good about ourselves while adding value to our lives.
- Get to Know Who You Really Are
Survivors of CEN all have one thing in common: they don’t really know themselves. That’s because the people in their lives who should know them the best, their family, never really took the time to get to know them.
But now is the time for you to fully recognize the truth, you are absolutely worth knowing and it is your responsibility to get to know yourself. Knowing who you are, what you like, want, need, love, value, desire in this life will give you a firm foundation from which to propel yourself into an awesome future.
Recovering from any kind of emotional trauma is not easy. It is a personal journey that will contain many highs and lows. But taking the journey, one step at a time, will lead you to a wonderful life, one that you deserve.
If you or a loved one is suffering from CEN and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.