Emotional neglect, abandonment, is more pervasive than most people realize. Why? Because it is “invisible.” Parental connection, meeting your emotional needs, is not something done unto you, rather it was what you did not receive. Thus, there is no conscious memory of this experience. However, in your subconscious, the lack of emotional nurturance, sits deeply in the limbic area of your brain. The effect of emotional neglect is part of the “computer” program in your head that is continually present. Dr. Jonice Webb has written an excellent book on this topic with the title listed above. Examining this issue in your life is time well spent. Read on to see if this early childhood experience has affected your adult life.
Dr. Webb lists seven factors that may indicate you experienced this poor parenting when you were a child.
- FEELINGS OF EMPTINESS: This is hard to describe, but if you have this you now have some understanding of from whence it has come.
- FEAR OF BEING DEPENDENT: You are very uncomfortable in relying on someone else. You don’t seek out help or support easily.
- UNREALISTIC SELF APPRAISAL: You tend to not know your full capacity of your strengths or weaknesses. A certain detachment, or numbness, makes this effort a challenge.
- NO COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF, PLENTY FOR OTHERS: You tend to be harder on yourself than you are on others. You tend to not talk much about your problems.
- GUILT, SHAME, SELF-DIRECTED ANGER, AND BLAME: These four feelings/behaviors are often self directed. You tend to not admit your needs, making mistakes, or having feelings.
- FEELING FLAWED: You know something is wrong in your life, but you can’t pinpoint what it is. “I’m different than other people,” “something is wrong with me” are often experienced feelings.
- DIFFICULTY FEELING, IDENTIFYING, MANAGING AND/OR EXPRESSING EMOTIONS: This numbness, or lack of attunement, leads you to some confusion about what is going on with you, and others, emotionally. You probably do not have a vocabulary to express feelings.
If any of these ring true for you, in small or large part, then emotional neglect is part of what has formed you. This emotional neglect results from parents failing to notice you, under valuing-responding to your emotions. The unconscious deductions that you make is that there is something wrong with you. Your needs and expectations were not met. Parents are “supposed” to meet them. You then pushed your emotions down. This results in you as an adult having difficulty being in touch with your emotions. Such emotions are needed to direct, guide, inform, connect, and enrich you — and to connect deeply with another person. Your emotions are an important factor in being fulfilled and capable to live life with both your left (cognitive) and right (emotional) brain fully functioning and in balance.