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Holiday Help For The Emotionally Neglected

Few times of year are more challenging for the emotionally neglected than the holiday season. This is a time replete with family gatherings, family demands, and (should-be) family warmth.

Oh sure, you’re good at giving, so that part of the holidays is easy for you. But what about the other aspects of the holidays?

Are you required to attend parties that make you uncomfortable?

What about the discomfort of all the things left unsaid in your family? Do you feel it extra strongly at the holidays?

What about the joy you’re supposed to be feeling this season? Do you struggle to capture some for yourself, but find it difficult to feel it?

Some of the particular aspects of Emotional Neglect do get magnified by the family time, parties, expectations and mood of the holidays. Fortunately I’ve written several articles that I think will help guide and support you through these special challenges.

  • Painful Feelings Unaddressed in Your Family: Emotionally neglectful families by definition don’t express, talk about or address their members’ feelings adequately. This leaves lots of conflicts and issues unresolved and buried. Now you will be joining your family at a special gathering for the holidays. Unfortunately those pushed-down, unresolved emotions are still there, under the surface. And they can make your family holiday gathering unpredictable and inexplicably painful. Here are two articles to help you understand what’s happening in your family, and know how to cope with it.

Four Subtle Family Dynamics That Can Ruin Your Holidays

Stressful Family? 10 Mantras to GEt You Through the Holidays

  • Feeling on the Outside: In order to truly enjoy the holidays you generally need to feel a part of something meaningful, like your family or your community. Yet when you grew up in a household that rejected your emotions, you tend to take that rejected feeling forward into your adult life. It’s very hard to feel warmly welcome anywhere. You naturally, automatically feel on the outside. This feeling is with you, no matter where you go and no matter how many people you are with. This can make the holidays somewhat painful for you. Below are two articles that I hope will help you manage that feeling, and enjoy the holidays more.

On the Outside

Are You Living Life on the Outside?

  • Your Emotions: You had to push your personal feelings away in order to get by in your childhood home. So now you lack a direct connection with your own emotions. They are instead safely walled off. No wonder you find yourself feeling empty while those around you appear to be joyfully celebrating the holidays. See the article below for some guidance on how to begin to break through your wall to access your feelings. They are, after all, the most vital, biological part of your true self. You need them all the time, but especially now for the holidays.

Five Steps to Break Down Your Wall

When your emotions are walled off, they can sometimes break through that wall when you least expect it. The post below will help you manage any intense feelings you may have through the various challenges you’ll face this holiday season.

Eight Step Method to Manage an Intense Emotion

  • Self-discipline: These struggles are common among those who grew up with CEN. Perhaps you didn’t receive enough structure or discipline in some vital areas as a child, so you weren’t able to internalize the ability to discipline yourself. Perhaps you’re struggling to fill that empty feeling caused by CEN, and it’s causing you to over-indulge on some unhealthy things. All your life you’ve been blaming yourself for your problem with self-discipline, and that only intensifies the cycle. See the article below for some help and guidance to understand what’s happening and how to take control of it. You can start working on it now, before the holidays.

Ten Steps to Learn Self-Discipline

Living Life in Seeking Mode

  • Discomfort in Groups:  Partly it’s because of that on the outside feeling. Partly it’s because your feelings, which should be guiding you and connecting you in social situations, are too walled off to help you. Maybe it’s because you didn’t get to learn some social/emotional skills when you were growing up. The upshot is that the many parties and events that are held at the holidays put you under extra stress. The two posts below will help you not only get through them, but use them to practice new skills.

Not a Joiner? Understand and Manage your Discomfort in Groups

A Secret Cause and Cure For the Socially Anxious

Even if some or all of the articles above are helpful to you, two things remain for you to do throughout this holiday season. They are the two things that are most difficult for the emotionally neglected. They are both your greatest challenges, and your greatest solutions.

First, put your own needs first. No, it’s NOT selfish to do so. It’s healthy and it’s necessary.

Second, focus on your own self-care. Eat healthy, get some fresh air. Do some things you enjoy. Don’t let yourself take on too much.

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, and how and why it affects your entire adult life, see and the book, Running on Empty.

Sending you all of my warmest holiday wishes.

Holiday Help For The Emotionally Neglected

Jonice Webb PhD

Jonice Webb has a PhD in clinical psychology, and is author of the bestselling books Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationship. She has appeared on CBS News, New England Cable News, and NPR about Childhood Emotional Neglect, and has been quoted as a psychologist expert in the Chicago Tribune and CNBC. She currently has a private psychotherapy practice in the Boston area, where she specializes in the treatment of couples and families. To read more about Dr. Webb, her books and Childhood Emotional Neglect, you can visit her website,

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APA Reference
Webb PhD, J. (2016). Holiday Help For The Emotionally Neglected. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 13 Dec 2016
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