We should all be free to feel our emotions and express ourselves as adults. However, if you grew up in an emotionally neglectful household, you might not be living the life you should.
There are many things that can contribute to emotional numbness, or apathy, but the main factor for most people is childhood emotional neglect.
When one or both parents fail to respond to their kids’ emotional needs, it can have life-long effects on them by the time they reach adulthood.
If you grew up in a family like this then you were taught at a very young age that your emotions were irrelevant. You probably even created walls and boundaries to block your feelings as a coping mechanism.
The way you are living seems normal to you because it’s the only thing you know.
If this sounds familiar, the following 5 signs will let you know for sure if you feel numb because of the emotional neglect from childhood:
1. When something good happens, you do not experience joy.
You finally got that promotion! Your partner surprised you with a gift! It doesn’t matter what amazing and wonderful thing has happened, you just don’t feel that happiness that others seem to feel. While they are smiling and celebrating, you are devoid of any joy. You know that good things never last, and at least this way you are prepared for the next let-down.
2. You are unable to explain what you feel.
Because normally, you don’t know what it is. You have a hard time explaining what it is you are feeling, and that happens as a result of detachment. You never learned what genuine happiness feels like because you’ve never been allowed to sit with it and hold onto it for long. If you did try to explain your feelings it would end up with you fumbling over your words.
3. Other people’s emotions make you very uncomfortable.
You have no idea what to do. Are they crying? Gawd no, please. You are at your most uncomfortable when someone expresses themselves emotionally to you. You have blocked yourself off from these kinds of outbursts so when someone else has them it leaves you baffled.
4. But you wish you could do the same.
Despite your confusion with emotional outbursts and extreme sadness from others, you do envy them. You wish you could express yourself the way they do so easily, without fear of judgment from others. Unfortunately, your parents did not teach you how to do this, and shunned away any opportunity for emotional growth.
5. You are on auto-pilot.
You get up, go to work, go home, eat something, go to bed, and do it all again the next day. The life you live is filled with repetition and maybe you see it as stability, or try to tell yourself that. You just keep going, placing one foot in front of the other. And you may ask yourself if there is supposed to be more to it than this…there is. Life should have highs and lows, and if you feel neither then you might be emotionally detached.
Now that you are an adult, you do not have to continue to follow the same patterns that were instilled in you as a child. You have a choice to let yourself express and feel emotions without being hard on yourself for doing so. It’s a natural human condition to feel things, so let yourself feel. Tear down those bricks one by one, and learn how to manage your emotions in a healthy way.
By Raven Fon