Image by Saad Chaudhry

Feelings of Emptiness or Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood Emotional Neglect is what happens when, throughout your childhood, your parents fail to respond enough to your emotional needs. It's about what you didn't get in childhood; guidance, attunement and in some cases love. Not having these things causes damage that can go unnoticed and unseen for a long time. It feels like a sort of emptiness, a longing and a feeling of not being part of anything. The symptoms also include not being able to be in touch with your feelings, to the extent of not even knowing what you need in life, for yourself and from others. Adults that have suffered emotional neglect as children often ask themselves "What's wrong with me?"They can feel anxious about life, they can be people pleasers and fear judgment of others so much that they learn to not be true to themselves; they can pride themselves on being chameleon like, they become who they think others want them to be and in doing so loose sight of themselves. Losing yourself can lead to unhappiness, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Often, but not by any means always, these children have had their material needs met. Clients for whom this is the case will say to me 'I had a good childhood' and 'I was well looked after'. In some ways they are right, but only matterially. Not knowing that their emotional needs weren't met or recognised, they blame themselves for feeling that there's something wrong with them; it seems that it's their fault for being unhappy.

Counselling can help you become aware of what you didn't get; knowing this can help you realise why you feel like you do and is the first step towards recovery.

Healing old hurts can only begin when the children we once were feel safe enough to speak their hearts to the adults we are now.

L.R.Knost