There are many underlying reasons for depression, emotional instability, and maladjustment in adults. One of them is Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), which, while quite common is not widely understood by the average individual – even those who suffer from it.
If you’ve been struggling with depression and other negative emotions for long periods, then you may have experienced emotional neglect as a child.
Here is a short quiz which starts a springboard for you to determine whether you have CEN.
Take the quiz and after, we’ll talk more about the condition in detail. The quiz was created by psychologist Dr. Jonice Webb.
Childhood Emotional Neglect Quiz
- ? Often feel disappointed with, or angry at, yourself
- Sometimes feel like you don’t belong when with your family or friends
- Pride yourself on not relying upon others
- Have difficulty asking for help
- Have friends or family who complain that you are aloof or distant
- Feel you have not met your potential in life
- Often just want to be left alone
- Secretly feel that you may be a fraud
- Tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations
- Judge yourself more harshly than you judge others
- Compare yourself to others and often find yourself sadly lacking
- Find it easier to love animals than people
- Often feel irritable or unhappy for no apparent reason
- Have trouble knowing what you’re feeling
- Have trouble identifying your strengths and weaknesses
- Sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in
- Believe you’re one of those people who could easily live as a hermit
- Have trouble calming yourself
- Feel there’s something holding you back from being present in the moment
- At times feel empty inside
- Secretly feel there’s something wrong with you
- Struggle with self-discipline
Count the number of “Yes” answers you have. If you have 6 or more, then Dr. Webb says you may have grown up with significant CEN.
What does this mean?
While growing up with CEN can result in a number of problems in adults, it is not a catch-all reason. However, it is worth looking at those potential issues. Awareness is the first step to finding solutions after all.
Difficulty in expressing emotions
One of the most common problems that adults who grew up with CEN face is difficulty in expressing feelings and emotions. When facing situations like arguments or intimate conversations, they may withdraw and speak in a seemingly terse manner. If you find this pattern in your relationships, then you may want to explore tools and solutions that will help you express your emotions.
Some ways you can do this are:
- Ask yourself right now: what emotion do you feel? Be precise, and take your time.
- Say how you feel out loud. Practice doing it repeatedly. For example, say “I feel frustrated.” Always use the first person. At first, you will want to do this alone. After a while, do it in front of the mirror. When you feel comfortable, practice this with someone you feel really close to.
- Alternatively, write down how you feel.
Feeling guilty all the time
Or, feeling that there is something wrong with you. This can be one of the heaviest burdens one can bear. Feeling that you are wrong or you have done something wrong all the time takes its toll and opens you up to manipulation.
Do you feel this way? If so, here are things to bear in mind.
- Recognize that the feeling of being wrong (or that something is hopelessly wrong with you) all the time is just that – a feeling. It is not the reality.
- Identify where the feeling of being wrong or guilty is coming from. Is it because of something that happened recently? Something you said or did (or didn’t say or do)? Does it have its roots in your childhood? Again, take your time. When you experience this feeling, stop and analyze.
- If you feel you need it, seek the help of a therapist.
Feeling that you have no support from family and friends
Do you often feel that your partner doesn’t give you the support you seek? For example, you are having a hard time at work and you feel like you never receive any support from your spouse. As a result, you withdraw and don’t share anymore. Then you get locked in a vicious cycle.
What to do?
Remind yourself that your family and friends are, in all likelihood, behind you. They want to help you and support you, but you need to reach out to them as well. Instead of putting the weight of the world on your shoulders and feeling that no one is there for you, take a minute to talk and share that burden.
These are only a few effects of childhood emotional neglect – the most common ones. If you need to probe deeper and understand more, go over the questionnaire at the beginning of this post. Look at the items you answered yes to, and think of ways you can change those feelings. Even better, find someone to talk to – that’s the beginning of dealing with the effects of CEN and becoming better adjusted as an adult.
How did you do in the quiz? Did it help you become aware of some of the issues you are facing today? Share your story with us in the comments.