Three Core Beliefs Caused by Neglect and How It Shows Up Later in Life
Being neglected is a very painful and traumatic experience for a child. As human beings, we have brains that are wired to receive love, connection and nurturing from our caregivers when we come into this world. When our caregivers do not respond to our physical and emotional needs, the alarm system in our brain goes off ,which often leads to depression and anxiety later in life.
Different Forms of Neglect:
Emotional Neglect: Emotional neglect refers to a parents` failure to engage with a child emotionally. This includes not being able to recognize when a child is emotionally in pain and not responding to a child`s emotional pain with proper care and attunement.
Physical Neglect: Physical neglect refers to a parent`s failure to take care of a child`s basic physical need such as food, basic hygiene, safety, clothing and medical help. This often goes hand in hand with emotional neglect.
Please remember that no type of neglect is "worse" than the other one. Both emotional and physical neglect are deeply painful for a child and activate the threat response in a child`s nervous system.
Three Beliefs That Children Usually Develop as a Result of Neglect:
1) I am flawed/unworthy: When a child`s needs are chronically dismissed and unseen, a child starts to believe that he/she is not worthy of being taken care of. The child starts to think that "if the people who are supposed to take care of me don`t see me, then there is definitely something wrong with me". This can lead to chronic shame and self-esteem issues later in life.
2) I will never get what I want in life: When a child is repeatedly disappointed by his/her caregivers and does not receive what he wants, he might develop the belief that " I will probably never get what I want in life, no matter how hard I tty". This can lead to depression and a deep sense of hopelessness later in life.
3) My needs don`t matter: Neglect often leads to the belief that my needs are not that important. A child might think "if my caregivers don`t care about my needs, maybe my needs are not important after all". This can lead to people-pleasing, always prioritizing others peoples` needs above ours, and difficulty asking for help later in life.
It is possible to heal the wounds created by neglect. This requires first acknowledging the pain and then learning to heal our inner child through tools such as therapy.