When There Was No Room to Feel: Recognition and Healing of Emotional Neglect

When There Was No Room to Feel: Recognition and Healing of Emotional Neglect
Feelings of emptiness, guilt, and shame, difficulty nurturing yourself and others, counter-dependence, and poor self-discipline; it is a selection of the themes that play a role in the lives of adults who received structurally insufficient emotional care as children. 

This article shows how these often unnoticed chronic deficits can have an immense impact on a child’s later life.

Table of Contents

That which is not there

The purpose of the book is not just to outline the problem and symptoms. Webb primarily wants to create awareness and insight, and from there offer an opening to change and healing. Of yourself, but also of the generations that will follow. “Whatever gaps or gaps there are in your emotional health, they’re the same gaps and gaps your kids are likely to get—unless you fill them.”

Emotional neglect is often passed on unconsciously from generation to generation. Two things make it difficult to recognize or recognize this pattern: (i) it often involves parents with the best intentions, who can actually excel in other areas of parenting (for example, in physical or financial care), and (ii) emotional neglect is often invisible; it is that which is not there .

Why You May Feel So Empty: Signs and Signs of Emptiness (and how it may have started in childhood)

Take, for example, the “permissive parent,” one of the twelve parent types described in the book. Using an example from client Eli, Webb shows how a child of this parent grows up with little (self) confidence, (self) discipline and tools to form an identity:

Eli came home in seventh grade with a report card full of fives and sixs. His mother looked at it and shook her head sadly. “Well, I know you tried your best,” she said with a sigh. At that point, Eli was very relieved and went out to play. But in spite of his sense of relief, he also felt somehow uneasy. “She thinks I did my best. That means she thinks I can’t do better.” 

We see that there is nothing really ‘wrong’ in this situation. Eli’s mother is not mean or harsh, quite the contrary. And if such a situation occurs once – or sporadically – there is nothing to worry about. But if Eli’s entire childhood is characterized by this absent-minded and avoidant parenting style, Webb explains, he’ll have trouble forming an identity and developing self-confidence and discipline. After all, indirectly he is constantly given the message that he is not important, that it does not matter how he develops in life.

As an adult, especially with children of this parent type, confusion can arise: ‘Why am I not happy? I had a good childhood, didn’t I?’ Despite Eli experiencing feelings of emptiness and gloom, he doesn’t know what’s causing it. The cause is something that was n’t there.

Loving vs being tuned

When There Was No Room to Feel: Recognition and Healing of Emotional Neglect

Webb emphasizes that she does not want to blame or criticize parents and educators with this book. Most do their utmost, and cannot help but raise their children in the same ways that they themselves have been raised. That is why it is so important to develop an understanding of the subtle causes and consequences of structural emotional deficiency and to stop the cycle.

The largest group of emotionally neglecting parents appears to fall under the parent type ‘The well-intentioned parent who has been neglected himself’. Webb explains, ” Loving your child is very different from being attuned to your child.” To be attuned, the parent must be aware of and understand emotions, observe the child closely to discover what he or she can and cannot do, and be willing to really get to know the child – as an individual, not as an extension of the child. the parent.

The point is, being emotionally attuned is incredibly difficult if you grew up in an environment where there was no room for emotions. Webb seems to focus on this group of people in particular, and in the second half of the book, he works to rekindle this emotional recognition and pave the way for self-healing.

Feeling again: the beginning of change

That process starts with a feelingEmotionally neglected people are often very distant from their feelings. They are ‘programmed’ to deal with emotions in a certain way (hiding away, eating/drinking/laughing/exercising, working harder, pampering yourself). Often these emotions are still expressed in physical symptoms, for example in gastrointestinal complaints, back pain and sleeping problems. Sometimes the inability to feel becomes more severe and there are self-harm and/or suicidal thoughts.

When There Was No Room to Feel: Recognition and Healing of Emotional Neglect

The only emotion that is sometimes still felt is anger. That anger is in fact a package containing the whole arsenal of emotions that should not be there. Webb helps the reader to open this package again – gently, day after day – and to recognize, name, understand, accept and ultimately healthy express the feelings that are released.

Besides (and after) recognizing emotions, Webb pays a lot of attention to self-care. Adults who were emotionally deprived in childhood often have not learned to take care of themselves properly. Or they know how to do it, but lack the self-discipline. In addition, they are often unnecessarily hard on themselves and feel like they are constantly falling short, while they are full of understanding and compassion for their environment.

On the basis of change schemes, the reader can work on learning to say ‘no’, finding one’s own identity (what do you like and dislike? What suits you?), nurturing yourself, asking for help, having fun, healthy eating and exercise, experiencing rest and relaxation, building self-discipline and above all: feeling self-compassion.

Find courage

“Children are incredibly resilient,” Webb finally reassures the parent. “As soon as we change what we give, they will change – often after a period of adjustment. Moreover, any changes you make in yourself will also affect your children. The more you change yourself in a positive way, the more your children will automatically change for the better.’

Unknown Feeling is a book that encourages action but above all courage. Courage to dare to look at where you have fallen short, without losing the love and respect for your parents or educators. Courage to recognize, feel and accept your emotions. And courage to change, and nurture future generations with the richness of known feelings.



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