May 10, 2022

9 Signs You’re Experiencing Emotional Neglect.


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Sometimes, what’s even more painful than what’s happening with us is what’s not happening with us.

It’s not about the presence of something that gnaws at us, rather the absence of that one thing that we needed or need the most: emotional comfort and holding.

It’s amazing to see that in our everyday lives, the one thing that is the driving force behind every goddamn thing we do is the one that is left behind at almost every instance. Sometimes knowingly and most of the times out of our awareness.

When we choose to keep our or others’ emotions aside, we can still live with it. It’s a conscious act wherein we have taken into account the pros and cons of our decision to keep emotions in the back seat.

However, many a times, we dump them in some corner of our mind just so that we can get on with life and other things.

We neglect our own emotions, and without realizing, we do this to others as well—thus shaking the very foundation of our relationship with our self and others.

It’s important to talk more about how we feel and embrace emotional conversations and vulnerable moments with open arms. How will we connect with our self and somebody else without this fabric that binds us together?

And that is why most of us lead individualistic, fragmented lives.

Before we realise, the emotional neglect that we have received in our relationships becomes a part of us. We start neglecting ourselves in the same way. Overtime, we only become shadows of ourselves—walking around and doing things feeling devoid of any meaning and connection.

When we have been in the absence of emotional connection and “holding,” when our most intimate thoughts, emotions, and vulnerabilities have not been given the due attention and receptivity, they later show up as:

1. Difficulty trusting our emotions. How will we trust our own voice if it was not given a safe-enough environment to be heard and understood? With time, this lack of listening and validating our own thoughts, opinions, and emotions cuts us off from our own inner voice. What remains are muffled sounds and stifled cries.

2. Experiencing a strong sense of guilt and shame. When we do not receive or are unable to hold our emotions with dignity and respect, we are only left with an overwhelming sense of guilt for having a voice and shame for all the things we could have been but aren’t—rather, a strong sense of shame for who we really are because we’ve only been familiar with the pain that comes with trying to be our authentic self.

3. Feeling empty. Even when things are going right, it still feels empty. It feels hollow. It seems like there is a void that’s so deep that nothing will ever be able to fill it.

4. Low sense of self. We are plagued by ideas and beliefs about how something is wrong with us, how we aren’t good enough, and how we need to be “fixed” in order to accept our self and others. Our sense of self is never enough because it was never validated enough. As time passes, we start internalizing others’ incapacity or incapability to provide that emotional safety as a fault or a fatal flaw in our self.

5. Oscillating between dependence and independence. We can’t trust ourselves, so we want to depend on someone else. When we try to depend on someone else, all sorts of fears kick in, forcing us back into our shell. We don’t want to feel hurt, be left alone, or told that we aren’t good enough, so we sink right back into the void. We resurface sometimes when it gets unbearable and fall back in. And this oscillation doesn’t seem to end.

6. Trying to be perfect at everything. No mistakes, no errors, no gaps. Everything has to be in order so that we can tell the world we’re fine when, in fact, we are filled with dread and fear from within. We often don’t have clarity about what we want from ourselves and from others because we’ve never developed that concept of clarity within our expectations to navigate the world effectively.

7. Difficulty accepting love, care, and nurturance. We often run away from what we need the most because how do we trust it when the whole idea of trust was never formed? We lived in emotional isolation and neglect for far too long to truly let love, care, and nurturance in. Overtime, they just begin to feel alien concepts, don’t they? We say, “Nah, not for me,” and shut ourselves off.

8. Lack of self-compassion. We repeat what we learn. When we have been in a space of neglect for far too long, we lose any sense of compassion and kindness that we have for ourselves. We get busy running away, fixing, oscillating, and hiding.

9. Trouble with self-discipline. When we don’t know what we want from ourselves and others, actions lose meaning. We get distracted, procrastinate, and struggle to find some sense—some purpose—in whatever we’re doing, and we’re too scared to go within and fill that void.

The only way to move out of this zone of emotional neglect is to stop—stop and ask ourselves if this is truly the state we want to be in, if these are the relationships we truly want to be in where we’re not seen, heard, validated, if this is how we want to continue relating to our own selves.

Only when we allow ourselves to stop and reflect, can we find a way out of this space of neglect and into a space of connectedness.

Only if…


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