3rd Step to Healing Childhood Emotional Neglect
Childhood Emotional Neglect, or “CEN” for short, is a term that was coined by Dr. Karyl McBride. It’s the emotional neglect of children that occurs in families where at least one parent is emotionally unavailable due to their own unresolved childhood trauma and/or addiction issues.
If this is the first page on my website that you’ve landed on – I’d really suggest read the 1st and 2nd steps for healing Childhood Emotional Neglect first. The order of the steps mightn’t make sense to you but I’ve worked with heaps of people and this is how we see real change.
This step requires a piece of paper and a pen and some time to yourself. We talked about prioritising yourself in step 2 – count this as some time where you will be doing just that.
So – grab a cuppa. Sit yourself down in the comfiest chair that you’ve got. Make sure you won’t be interrupted and get ready to answer some questions.
When you were growing up, perhaps your choices weren’t considered often if at all.
Questions like: “What do you feel like doing today?”, “Would you rather go to a pizza restaurant or a hamburger place?”, “Do want to buy this shirt in green or pink?”, “How do think about that?”. Were you asked? And if you were – were your answers considered?
As an emotionally neglected adult who didn’t have your preferences taken into consideration very often when you were young, you can find yourself having huge difficulty even knowing what you want to wear and eat. Let alone knowing what makes you happy and content with life.
It’s a curly one.
When I first start working with someone and I ask them to name one thing that comforts them – so we can find things they can do if they’re stressed – I get a blank look.
Not one single thing comes to their mind.
I can see their brains panicking.
Desperately trying to work out what the right answer is. “What does Rebecca want to hear?”.“What can I say so she thinks I am a worthy human being and she doesn’t fire me as a client?”. “What do all of her other clients say?”
And that overthinking usually leads to answers like this: “I meditate. I light candles. I sage my house. I eat clean foods. I go on a juice fast.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with those things – but to be honest when I hear this I just get the giggles inside.
Let me tell you what I like:
Peanut butter straight out of the jar.
Fleetwood Mac and Yazoo
World of Warcraft.
Eating over the kitchen sink.
Not a “spiritual” thing to be seen.
My clients are so worried that they’ll say the wrong thing – but I want nothing more than to hear what they ACTUALLY like and enjoy. That’s what makes them unique and special. This part of themselves was pushed so far down in childhood that they don’t have access to it. They honestly don’t know anymore.
Their brains believed that having their own thoughts and wants and desires was unsafe. Agreeing with their parents meant that they wouldn’t be emotionally abandoned. And they’ve carried this belief through to adulthood.
So – here is a list of questions for you. See how many you can answer. Be truthful. There are NO RIGHT ANSWERS.
If you can’t do many – all cool. Even one is great. Let’s reteach your gorgeous brain that it’s safe to be you – an individual, unique, wonderful human in your own right. With needs, wants and desires like every other person in this world.
After you fill in the list – put it somewhere and come back to it every few months – because – shock, horror. You are also allowed to change your mind. People change. That doesn’t make you undecided or skittish or flaky. Again – it makes you human.
Grab that chair and let’s do this 3rd step to Healing Childhood Emotional Neglect. Yay.
I’ll be at my computer playing games. 😊
- What’s your favourite kind of food?
- Do you like sports?
- What’s your favourite sport to play?
- What’s your favourite sport to watch?
- Do you care about fashion? What’s your style?
- What’s your favourite way to spend a Saturday?
- Are you in the right job/career for you?
- What’s your favourite type of movie?
- Do you like books? What kinds of books?
- Can you name something you’re good at and would like to do more?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- Do you have enough friends?
- Do you enjoy the friends you do have?
- Which friends do you enjoy the most?
- What comes naturally to you?
- What’s your least favourite household task?
- What’s something you hate doing?
- What’s something you find really hard to do?
- Is there someone who makes your skin crawl?
- What’s your favourite colour?
- What colour do you dislike?
- Are you happy?
- If you could change just 1 thing about your life, what would you change?
- What are 5 things that can put a smile on your face no matter what?
- If you inherited 1 million dollars from an uncle you’ve never heard of before, how would you spend that money? And how would you live your life?
- What does it take for you to feel loved by yourself or someone else?
- What lies do you continuously tell to those around you? (I’ll help you out here – I tell them that I don’t mind if they choose the things we do or places we eat. Gulp.)
- What is your greatest fear?
- Who is your hero?
- If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
- What is your biggest fear?
- What is your favourite holiday?
- What really makes you angry?
- What makes you laugh the most?
- What did you want to be when you were small?
- Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not?
- Who would you want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
- If money was no object, what would you do all day?
- If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What are your hobbies?
- What is the best gift you have been given?
- Who knows you the best?
I’d love to know your answers. I really will read them.
Feel free to email them to email@example.com
In the meantime
PS. If you’ve been feeling the pull to have me by your side as your CEN Recovery Mentor and you’re ready for deep support while you recover and find out who you really are after all those layers peel away, click here to join my CEN waitlist and let’s talk about the best way I can support you: