While growing up, you may have been well provided and cared for by your parents. Recognizing whether we have been through emotional neglect as a child is an uncomfortable truth for most of us. Often it is subtle and is not an intentional oversight by parents. In the majority of cases, parents themselves do not realize they are emotionally neglecting their child as their own needs may not have been met as children. How do you recognize that you have been through emotional neglect? While the degree of intensity may vary, a few common symptoms include:

  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Being harder on yourself for any mistakes you make
  • Difficulty understanding and expressing your emotions to yourself or others
  • Being uncomfortable with showing dependency on others
  • Higher need for perfectionism
  • Lack of clarity from yourself and others
  • Higher sensitivity towards failure or rejection

State your needs

Until you learn to recognize and express your needs, irrational as they may seem to you, no one else can address them. After years of pent-up needs, it is essential that you begin engaging with them and tell others what you require from them.

Realize everybody makes mistakes

Beating yourself up for every little mistake only serves to hurt you further. Instead, acknowledge that you made a mistake and tell yourself that it was alright. Consider your options now that it has occurred. For all you know, you might find out that it was not as colossal a mistake as you imagined.


Recognize your emotions

Having spent time pushing aside your emotions, it will take time for you to acknowledge what you are experiencing. Nevertheless, it is important that you try and understand what you are feeling towards different situations and how your mind and body are reacting to the same.

Your feelings do not define you

In the process of understanding your emotions, know that while they may seem overwhelming and definite, they do not define you. How you respond to your feelings will. As your awareness increases, it will gradually become easier to regulate your reactions to stronger emotions. But, before we reach that stage, know that you only need to observe your feelings.

Start loving yourself

Berating yourself for having a cheesecake as a treat or the day off from exercising is not helpful. Be kinder and do something just for yourself. Only when you treat yourself with kindness should you expect others to act the same. While close friends may be ready with a quick word of comfort, they may not always understand your need. Only you can accomplish that for yourself.


Commencing the journey to heal yourself is often difficult. Counselling can act as the support system that will help keep you on track. More importantly, you will not be alone in this endeavour of yours. Undoing years of pain takes time and counselling will ensure you move in the right direction.

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