What is Childhood Emotional Neglect?

a life in perfect balance

rebecca chapman  - relationship whisperer

My Parents Neglect Me? Please Explain Girl! My Parents Loved Me.

I recently moved from a big city to a really small country town in Queensland Australia and my house is about 5 minutes from a beach. Chances are, when I've written this  that that's where I am. Feet in the sand, staring at the ocean and working out whether or not I want to go in. Strange thing here is that the water is really warm - like a bath. To be honest - it can feel a bit creepy on your skin. So - I don't always go in.
I'll have food on my clothes for absolute sure and my care factor about that is a big ZERO.




Childhood Emotional Neglect. Calm. Resilience. Mental Health. Inner Child. Relationships. Life Coaching.

My parents neglect me?  Childhood Emotional Neglect is a thing?

Hold on a second Sunshine, before you click away. I can see your finger ready to click on the mouse. Cease and desist. I want to tell you a secret.
The most common thing I hear from my clients is…TaDa…
“Nothing was really wrong with my childhood” or “I can’t really remember my childhood.”
And, you know what, I actually believe you.  Bet you weren’t expecting that.  But – quid pro quo – I need you to believe me now.  Because there’s one thing I do know – you didn’t land on this page for absolutely<span data-offset-key=”8bev5-2-0″> no reason at all. Yes?
So – promise me you’ll keep reading and hang with me for a bit.
If, at the bottom of this page, you still feel like this isn’t for you then coolies.   You can rifle through my other blog posts to see if something sticks. Or – I mightn’t be the therapist for you.  These things happen. No biggie.
But – if you’ve read some of my stuff and wanted to yell to the sky “That’s me”. Then – welcome, my friend. We will sort this s$$t for you.
There is a solution to this
I just need to explain it a bit better first.  
One thing I need to tell you before we start. This whole concept can blow your mind the first time you hear about it.  Every one of us freaked out just a little bit inside when we first made the connection.  
Look around the website, and read reviews from some of my peeps.  It takes everyone a while to wrap their heads around this, and there’s no time frame you need to do it in. 
Relax and take all the time you need.  I’m right here with you and hanging to answer all your questions.  Yes – all of them.  Even the ones you think are dumb. They’re not.
Let’s address the elephant in the room.  I’m not talking about trauma or abuse. I’m not suggesting in any way that your parents didn’t love you and want the best for you.  I’m not asking you to slam your parents. Not at all. I go more into parents here – but this post is about YOU.
Almost everyone with CEN thinks they’re overreacting about how things were when they were kids. That other people had it much worse.  So – let that nugget go right now.  This isn’t a competition.  Take a breath – you’ve got every right to be right here, reading about this, and I’m so happy you are.  This’ll be the start of something amazing for you.  
So – enough faffing. What the bejeezus am I talking about?
Here are some things you may have noticed and never understood:
  • Feeling empty and like you have no feelings. You might feel like something isn’t right with you.  You might realise that you don’t seem to feel all the emotions that other people do. You might say to yourself, “Why don’t I feel things” or “Why do I feel empty?”.  That pit in the bottom of your tummy and the feeling in your head like your brain is trying to escape when there’s the slightest hint of conflict. It’s all normal. Well – for now.
  • Fear of needing other people.  People with Childhood Emotional Neglect don’t like to ask for emotional help. Or even help in any way. If you look at my bookshelves you’ll see hundreds of self-help books – for everything from fixing the toilet to fixing my hard, crusty heart.  We tend to not share anything that really matters to us.  This is because we learned as kids that when we did, we’d be rejected, or made to feel little or needy or stupid.  I don’t know about you but I’d do anything to avoid feeling those things again.  Feeling little and humiliated is shitty.
  • Not much of an idea of who you are. Pretty much a general lack of self-knowledge.   By self-knowledge, I mean what you like, what you don’t like. What you’re good at and not so good at (anything to do with balancing and sport right here). Who you like and don’t like and why.  People might always say to you “It feels like you’re just going along with what I want to eat/do/watch.” and this might confuse the heck out of you.  It’s become easy and natural for you to go along with what other people want.  If you weren’t asked as a kid what you liked or if you felt that what you liked was “unacceptable” – you’ll put it all on the back shelf.  I have missed some seriously good food and movies, eating and watching stuff I didn’t like.  Plus – I annoyed the hell out of the people I was with. They wanted to try some stuff I liked and felt like I wasn’t letting them in.
  • Being super tough on yourself and but not on other people. Most of the people I treat with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) have tonnes of understanding for other people. Perhaps too much for other people.  We’ll get to that.  But – they are hard asses on themselves. They didn’t get enough emotional understanding from their parents They tend to reject and tease and criticise themselves before other people can…even in therapy.
  • Feeling like there’s something really wrong with you at your very core. Imposter syndrome on steroids. You could even feel like other people are living in a different universe altogether.  Feeling that you have a fatal flaw will cause you to wall yourself off.  You have a deep feeling that something is wrong with you. That you’re missing something that other people have.  And – you will do every single thing you need to, hide this flaw from other people.  And here’s the bit that totally sucks – because you don’t actually know what the flaw is – you’ll think it is simply you as a person – everything about youYou’re the flaw. It’s such a crock of crap that your brain is telling you.  There’s no fatal flaw and there are people out there who’d love to know the real you.  Truly. I would. Let’s start there.
  • A tendency to blame yourself for things, get angry at yourself, and carry around a lot of guilt and shame.  This is because you feel you should be happier, healthier, doing better, achieving more.  You get my drift. If only you were better, thinner, prettier, brighter, shinier, more friendly (insert whatever mattered to the people around you when you were a kid).
  • Low emotional intelligence. Now – this isn’t something anyone wants to hear so I’m going to say right here that it isn’t a character flaw.  This can be fixed and you can learn it. It isn’t anything that’s your fault. Not at all.  It’s an inability to notice, name, tolerate, share, feel and identify emotions.  You might know when you’re angry – but there are heaps of different shades of anger.  This leads me to the next step – you may have decided anger is bad.  You might also have decided that certain other emotions are “good” or “bad”.  Emotions just are and the more you learn about them the easier it is to express and deal with them.  You skipped the training as a kid. You weren’t taught, and now you need to learn.   I’ll let you in on a secret – I actually used to hide in libraries and try and study which emotions were what.  I even had to look up how long a hug should be – seriously. You won’t have to read all those self-help and psychology books.  Trust me. I’ve put my good money down and read them for you. Hours of walking the streets, listening to audio books, trying to eat sushi, and holding my phone simultaneously.  All in the name of fixing a flaw none of us actually have.
  • You might have a fear that you don’t matter. That you aren’t valid.  That you aren’t enough.  That you’re “less than”.  This is because as a kid you and your feelings were not valid.  You were told they were wrong or didn’t matter. After this, it’s normal to feel less important than other people.  And here’s the kicker.  We all want to matter.  To someone.  To be missed and treated as if we can contribute to other people.  Even in a small way.  Life is about connection – even for introverts like me.  I fought it – but it’s true.
Childhood Emotional Neglect is what you didn’t have done for you that you needed.  And it is totally fixable
Next up – I’d love you to read my article on What sort of Parents Don’t notice their Children’s feelings and let me know how yours measure up. 
Catch you over there. 

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:


Or book an appointment here:-
Everything I have learnt about CEN has been through studying with Dr Jonice Webb.  Running on Empty. She’s been lovely enough to make me one of her approved therapists. 
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