9 Emotional Neglect Symptoms: When You're Not Sure Why You're Suffering

Are you suffering from anxiety and moodiness, but you don’t know why? Do you often compare yourself to others and believe you’re a failure? Have you been described as aloof or distant?

Are you feeling like you don’t belong at times? Do you usually just want to be left alone? Is it easier for you to love animals than people?

Are you often feeling empty inside?

Maybe you are one of the many adults who say they had a good childhood with happy memories, but you still struggle with a sense of loneliness and a fear of rejection. You’re sure you haven’t been mistreated by your parents, caregivers, or peers. So, why do you feel this way? What’s missing from the picture?

Your struggles may be founded in something invisible from your childhood. Something that’s often overlooked and overshadowed by more visible problems, such as child abuse or trauma. Something that does silent but substantial damage to a person’s life.

You could be suffering from emotional neglect symptoms.

Emotional Neglect and Its Symptoms

Emotional neglect is not a negative action – such as mistreatment or abuse – it’s a lack of action.

Typically, emotional neglect symptoms develop

1) when parents ignore, fail to notice and validate, or do not attend to their child’s feelings appropriately, have unrealistically high expectations, or constantly focus more on the needs of another child, or

2) when parents fail to set boundaries that provide structure and safety or fail to enforce rules, consequences, and discipline.

Many parents who emotionally neglect their children suffer from emotional neglect symptoms themselves. They are usually well-meaning and unaware of what effects they have on their children or how they can change their actions.

You may notice the following symptoms of neglect in yourself:

1. Poor Emotional Intelligence

You often have difficulties knowing, understanding, and trusting your own feelings, as well as those of others. You never learned how to identify, tolerate, or manage your feelings. Thus, rather than allowing your emotions, you feel guilty, ashamed, and even angry about having feelings at all and try to hide them.

2. Feelings of Emptiness

You’re feeling numb and hollow inside. Something seems to be missing, but you’re unsure of exactly what. You often wonder who you are or what your purpose is.

3. Low Assessment of Self

You have a poor concept of yourself and low self-esteem. It’s hard for you to accurately describe yourself, your feelings, and your goals.

4. Having the Fatal Flaw

Not only are you easily overwhelmed or discouraged, you usually end up blaming yourself for everything. You think you can never succeed and always get things wrong.

5. Fear of Dependency

You worry in excess that if you trust someone else, you will be let down. Or if you open up to another person, you will be rejected or be a burden to them.

6. Perfectionism

You tend to hold yourself to unrealistically high standards and unwittingly set yourself up for failure. Often, your lack of clarity about your own expectations for yourself or those of others for you stresses you out.

7. Difficulty Being Nurturing

Self-care is selfish in your eyes and self-indulgent. And your difficulty being nurturing to others often makes you look uncaring, unsociable, and aloof.

8. Lack of Self-Compassion

While you may have plenty of compassion for other people, you find it hard to show yourself the same kindness and sympathy. Hence, your inner critic keeps you from having a happier life.

9. Troubles with Self-Discipline

Your procrastination skills are unmatched. You always seem to leave everything to the last minute and have yet to see many projects all the way through.

If emotional neglect symptoms like these cause you trouble in your life, seek out a qualified professional to help you make more sense of your past, present, and future. You don’t have to keep suffering!