Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect can be an unintentional disregard for a person’s feelings. The effects can be subtle at times and therefore not easily detected. The most common symptoms of emotional neglect are anxiety, apathy, depression, perfectionism, appearing uncaring or indifferent and low self-esteem.

Brushing off a child’s feelings of sadness when speaking about an incident can overtime result in the child growing up with an impression that their feelings do not matter. They will stop seeking support in others. As an adult the individual may suffer from guilt and shame, eating disorders, difficulty trusting, emotional unavailability or an empty and hollow feeling inside.

A child who has learned to suppress their emotions may have difficulty expressing emotions in a healthy way as an adult. Learning to identify emotional needs and recognise times where this may not have been met allow an adult or child to overcome the feeling of emptiness.

So what can you do?

  1. Be gentle with yourself, recognise the small steps – It’s OK not to know where to start. Be compassionate to yourself and accept that you may not see huge waves of change. Focus on the small steps and acknowledge them. Don’t be self-critical and keep your self-talk in check – try not to be judgmental toward yourself or view yourself in a negative way. Try yourself with the same care and kindness as your inner child. Remember this is a process, bring the memories to the forefront is the start of your journey.
  2. Believing that your needs don’t matter is just a belief – built on an opinion which doesn’t make it necessarily true! Beliefs can be changed. You have emotional needs that deserve to be met.
  3. Learn to be aware of both positive and negative emotions – Recognise and acknowledge the good and bad emotions that you feel. Allow yourself the opportunity to sit through them. This process may seem strange and uncomfortable but it is an invaluable process. You may not have the vocabulary to describe how you feel and that’s OK, this takes time. Research emotions and the language to express how you feel. When you know what you need, take actions which compliment these feelings.

Validate yourself and the world will follow.