(This came in my e-mail)
.Hi, It’s Dr. Jonice and one of the things I’ve noticed in my practice is that one of the most pernicious results of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is also…
Amazingly – the most directly fixable.
Who hasn’t, at some moments of their lives, wondered…
What it’s all for?
What’s the point?
Why am I here on this earth?
What am I supposed to be doing?
Does anything really matter?
I Have noticed that some people struggle more than others with these questions. And I’ve also realized that there seems to be something about growing up emotionally neglected that predisposes you even more to this struggle.
“But what could that possibly be??!” you may be wondering, just as I have wondered for years. Today, I’d like to share my best answers to all of these questions.
Of course I don’t claim to know the meaning of life. But I can surely talk about what makes life feel meaningful. Most psychologists, I think, would agree that a key factor makes life feel meaningful, and is supported by research:
Your Emotions: Your emotions drive, motivate, direct and inspire you.
The most memorable moments in your life are the ones in which you feel something.
Awed, sad, overwhelmed, shocked, delighted or disappointed, these moments lodge themselves in your memory. When you feel an emotion, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, you feel real. Feeling a feeling is a way of feeling alive. Your emotions tell you that what is happening matters. Your emotions carry with them the message “this matters.” When your feelings are under-responded to as a child (CEN), you grow up pushing away, questioning, or numbing out your own emotions. This leads to two special challenges when it comes to feeling, as an adult, that your life is meaningful.
1: You are out of touch with your feelings. This undermines your search for meaning in three important ways:
a) It leaves you feeling, on some level, that you’re not fully alive.
b) The feelings that should be informing you about what matters to you are not available enough.
c) Feelings are a source of passion and direction. A shortage of these messages from within may leave you feeling lost and alone.
2: You feel that you don’t matter…
The unspoken message you received in childhood was, “Your feelings don’t matter.” But since your emotions are the most deeply personal part of who you are, what your child self heard was, “You don’t matter.” As an adult, this message undermines your feelings of life’s purpose and meaning. After all, if you don’t matter, how can your life matter?
Now back to the first sentence: “Pernicious but most directly fixable.”
Yes, it is true.
What’s the best fix for all of this?
Welcome your emotions back into your life.
I have seen over and over again that these three deceptively simple steps can make a huge difference in how important your life feels to you.
- Try to feel: This may sound strange but it actually works. Making an effort to have an emotion will start to yield results. You will start to feel more.
- Tune in to your feelings: Chances are, you’re having feelings all the time, but you are simply not aware of them. All this takes is focusing your attention more on what you’re feeling. Several times a day pause, focus your attention inward, and ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?”
- Increase your feeling word vocabulary: An important part of getting in touch with your feelings is being able to put words to them.
I know it may be hard to believe, but to me it’s abundantly clear…
The fuel of life is feeling.
If we’re not filled up in childhood, we must fill ourselves up as adults…
Otherwise we will find ourselves running on empty.
Dr. Jonice Webb