While most people would believe that if you experienced emotional neglect you would know it, the signs of emotional neglect while enduring it aren’t as obvious as they would seem. Especially because the family dynamic we are raised in is what becomes normal for us, however, as we get older, it becomes apparent to us that something wasn’t quite right.
If you grew up in a family that was emotionally cold, callous, and distant, it will leave a mark. Emotional neglect happens when a child’s emotional needs are not attended to. They are emotionally invalidated, they have major traumas swept underneath the rug, and they are pushed away when they attempt to seek comfort from their parents. I think a lot of people overlook certain forms of abuse or neglect because when a child have their basic needs taken care of (food, shelter, healthcare) we often assume they are being taken care of. But, in reality, emotional care is just as important as getting food in your belly.
If you feel like emotional abuse endured during your childhood may be impacting you now, here are some signs to look out for.
1. You never ask for help.
People who have been neglected may feel as though they are a hindrance to others. They will hold back on asking for help, even when they need it the most because they don’t want to be a burden. For the most part, the reason for this is that they have been made to feel as though they are a burden.
2. You bottle your emotions until you cannot bottle them anymore.
When you are emotionally neglected during childhood, you never really learn how to process your emotions. Because of this, instead of learning to manage your emotions, you will begin to fear your emotions, so you will learn to bottle them up.
3. You have an avoidant or insecure attachment style.
Our attachment style has a lot to do with our parents and the bond that we share with them. When this bond is a bond that consists of neglect, it can cause us to have a difficult time with our attachments to others. We may either avoid people altogether (or put a wall up) or cling to others way too much.
4. Fear of dependence.
If you’ve never really had anyone to depend on, it can be hard to get that close to someone. Deep down you may worry that if you get too dependent on them, they will let you down as your parents did. And in turn, you will have a hard time getting too close to anyone.
5. Difficulty identifying emotions.
When we are growing up, we are supposed to learn about our emotions, how to identify them and how to manage them. Those who are emotionally neglected don’t learn about their emotions which can make it extremely hard to navigate them as an adult.
6. Feeling sensitive to rejection.
When you are emotionally neglected, you feel rejected all the time. You may wonder what you did to not be good enough for your parents or caregiver. Throughout your life, as a coping skill, you may constantly be on edge- fearful of rejection from other people who enter into your life.
7. Lacking compassion for yourself, while having plenty for others.
Those who grow up being emotionally neglected will feel a lack of compassion for themselves. They have been taught early on that their feelings don’t matter and this will remain in their mind, well into adulthood.
8. Feeling like an alien.
When you learn how to process your emotions, it helps you to understand yourself. When you don’t learn how to process those emotions, though, you can be left feeling like an alien or feeling like you don’t know who you are.