3 Tips to Navigate Life After Childhood Emotional Neglect

Everyone’s childhood looks different.

Not all of us went to Disney Land. Or, had extravagant birthday parties. For some of us, there are situations that happened in our childhood that we don’t look back on fondly. And, this can feel pretty icky sometimes. At times, you may avoid talking about things that happened when you were a kiddo. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always stay in the past. Sometimes, these situations come up and bother us when we’re big kids. If this sounds familiar, you could be recovering from childhood emotional neglect.

Childhood Emotional Neglect

A person looks out a window. They are in the process of healing from childhood emotional neglect in Colorado Springs, CO with Altitude Counseling.

Childhood emotional neglect is, unfortunately, a common experience of many clients who have sought therapy or counseling. One of the things I have noticed, however, is that this is not the reason many seek counseling in the first place. More often than not, many who have experienced emotional neglect as a child show up in adulthood seeking help with seemingly unrelated struggles. A common struggle of those who have been neglected is the feeling of not “doing enough.” The feeling of not doing enough is often attached to feeling like you are not enough. Which, can, in turn, affect relationships.

An example I like to give clients is the following:

You forget to do the dishes. Or, you just have not gotten to them yet. Because, you know, life happens. Your partner comes to you and asks why you did not do the dishes. And, they may be a bit frustrated. However, word vomit starts. The most thoughtful and heartfelt apology pours out of you. You start a thought process of how you let your partner down. Now, you can’t even do the dishes. On top of that, you don’t do enough around the house. What’s more, you don’t do enough in general. Worst of all, you are not enough for this relationship.

It does not end there.

A photo shows a waterfall. This reflects concepts of childhood emotional neglect in Colorado Springs, CO with Altitude Counseling.

The next feeling is the fear of losing your partner. The good ole fear of abandonment sends you spiraling. Sometimes, you find yourself overcompensating by trying to be perfect and doing everything perfectly. This means you ignore your boundaries. And, maybe others’ to show you are “worth it” to keep them from leaving.  The reality is that this can push others away because it is not sustainable. And, you crash to the point where you have no energy to do the dishes. And the cycle continues. Over. And. Over. Again.

If this makes sense to you, you may have experienced childhood emotional neglect.

However, this is not the end all be all. You are not destined to relive these situations day in and day out. There is hope. But, the responsibility is up to you. What is most important, however, is to consider intentionality. From what I’ve seen, you must acknowledge this pain and hurt in a validating way. You might have tried this before. Chances are, this didn’t go well previously. When you tried to express emotions, you were invalidated and pushed aside. It is important that you do not continue the cycle of invalidation by invalidating yourself. To pick up the pieces from childhood neglect, you must acknowledge your emotions and your needs.

What does this look like?

This looks like addressing the deep feeling of not being enough. That voice in the back of your head that doesn’t stop.  Put your foot down to that voice and set the record straight. You are enough. Now, it is easy to know this logically. Sure, you’re a human. And, your existence matters. But, this can be hard to know emotionally. How does one teach themselves that they are enough in an emotional way when emotions have been forgotten all this time? It’s simple. But definitely not easy.

Tip #1 to heal from childhood emotional neglect: you can work on being aware of your emotions and thoughts.

A person holds a small flower. This demonstrates concepts of childhood emotional neglect in Colorado Springs, CO with Altitude Counseling.

You must take time to process them and break them down. You can do this every day. At different points in the day, check the pressure of your internal balloon. Check your internal balloon enough to make sure it doesn’t pop. Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel stressed or anxious? How is this impacting your interaction with others and yourself? When you’re alone, what feelings show up? In addition, this will help you start recognizing what your response to symptoms of depression, social anxiety, and reactions to traumatic events look like for you.

What’s more, be aware of the thought process you’re having. Remember that your actions do not reflect you as a whole person. Just because you forgot to do the dishes does not mean you are not enough.

Tip #2 to heal from childhood emotional neglect: you must allow yourself to put boundaries in place for yourself and your loved ones.

No matter what you need, you can ask for it. If you need some time for yourself, ask for it. Asking for what you need does not make you a bad person. If you need attention, ask for it. If you need help emotionally or even in a task like the dishes…  ASK. FOR. IT. This helps teach you that you are worth it. And, this helps you get to know yourself better. So, in the future, you can better understand your needs.

Tip #3 to heal from childhood emotional neglect: remember that you are not weak for needing others or asking for help.

A girl smiles. She is happy since starting counseling for childhood emotional neglect in Colorado Springs, CO with Altitude Counseling.

You are not weak for allowing yourself to feel your emotions. Just like every other human on this planet, you have limits. This is not an easy process to go through. Luckily, our counselors can help you through the process! Seeking counseling can result in many benefits for you you may find yourself centered and secure, more in control of your emotions, and have improved relationships with healthy boundaries.

Some final notes on healing from childhood emotional neglect

The path is not always easy. There are many things that you find yourself struggling with that you know those around you are not. If there is nothing that you take from this blog, please take this. You cannot heal from emotional neglect by emotionally neglecting yourself. Love yourself. Be yourself. Become more yourself.

Begin Counseling for Childhood Emotional Neglect in Colorado Springs, CO

Our counselors are here to help you get through this. We can help in our Colorado Springs counseling practice and through online therapy in Colorado. Aside from helping you navigate childhood emotional neglect, our counselors are able to help you with other experiences, too. We’re able to help teens, families, women, and men.  Our therapists are trained in many different approaches, including CBT and EMDR.  We offer therapy for griefdepression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, and substance use. For families, we offer teen counselingcounseling for new mothers, and IFS.  When you’re ready to begin counseling in Colorado Springs, CO, follow these steps:

  1. Get to know our counselors.
  2. Feel confident to ask for what you need.

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Colorado Springs, CO 80907

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