Is childhood neglect keeping you from living joyfully as an adult?

Feelings of emptiness, disconnection and low self-esteem could be traced to your childhood, says a clinical psychologist

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Rita watches her children play, and thinks about how lucky she is to have them. “I have so many good things in my life. Why do I still feel empty inside?

Ashish prepares himself to walk into the office party. “No matter how successful I am, I never feel like I belong,” he thinks.

When someone asks Miloni what she prefers, she usually stammers uncomfortably, “Whatever you want is fine with me.”

Ketan looks around at other people walking down the street laughing and talking. “What do they have that I don’t have?” he wonders.

Rahul, Ashish, Miloni and Ketan may appear to be quite different. But actually they have more in common than they could ever know. They are all living with the same invisible force inside, a powerful, eroding experience from childhood of which they are unaware: Childhood Emotional Neglect.

Childhood Emotional Neglect [CEN]:

A parent’s failure to respond enough to the child’s emotional needs.

So CEN is not something that a parent does for a child. Instead, it’s the opposite. CEN is what the parent fails to do for the child. For example, the CEN parent fails to ask or say enough:

Are you OK?
Are you hurt?
You look sad.
What do you want?
What do you need?
What do you feel?
What do you prefer?
Why do you say that?

Here’s what to do when you’re angry.

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A version of this article was first published in the August 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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