Welcome to summer! It’s that time again when everything slows down: Less pressure, less stress, and more time to relax and just “be.”
What could be a more perfect time to make small changes in yourself that will enhance your relationships?
Since 2012, when I wrote Running On Empty, the first book about Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), I have continued to learn more and more about how CEN plays out in your adulthood. And one of the most glaring effects of CEN is without a doubt the invisible wall it erects between you and the people you love the most.
Growing up with your feelings ignored is a very specific cause that results in some very specific effects. As a child, you walled off your emotions so they would not be a burden in your childhood home. Now, as an adult, your feelings are not readily available to you in the way that you need them.
One of the greatest ways you need them: in your relationships.
You were born with your emotions literally wired into you. You are meant to have them for a reason. Your emotions are meant to play a number of very important roles for you as a friend, spouse, sibling and parent.
In every single one of your relationships, your feelings are essential. They tell you how important the other person is to you, when they have upset you, when you need to protect yourself, when to give and when to take, and when to be vulnerable.
Without your feelings as your guide, you may end up lost at sea when it comes to understanding the central people in your life. Why do they do what they do? What do they mean by what they say? How do they really feel about you? How do you really feel about them? How should you respond to them? What should you expect from them?
Emotional Neglect from your childhood can make your adult partner feel shut out even if that is not at all your intention. It can keep your relationships lacking in depth and resilience or too heavily weighted in the favor of the other person.
Perhaps most importantly for parents, your CEN automatically gets passed down to your children unless you consciously, purposefully make an effort to stop it.
So guess what. Summer is your time!
You can turn this ship around and begin to live differently now. You can even improve and deepen your relationships. And save your children from CEN by becoming an emotionally attuned parent.
Get your start now, while the world is moving slower and the weather is nice. All of the parts of the challenge are actually fun and energizing!
TAKE THE SUMMER 2018 TRANSFORM YOUR RELATIONSHIPS CHALLENGE!
To transform your relationships this summer, you do not have to move mountains or reinvent yourself. You don’t have to take any big risks or give up anything. You only need to do these three things every single day.
The 3 Part 2018 Transform Your Relationships Challenge
- Write down three feelings each day that you observe in yourself or someone else (include your children in this). The very best way to improve your relationships is to welcome the world of emotions into your life. You can do this simply by paying attention. Watch for emotions in yourself, and start to notice when you have them. If that’s extremely hard for you – as it often is for those with CEN – then watch for emotions in other people and write down what you see. This entire process changes your brain, making you more emotionally aware and emotionally verbal. You will notice yourself beginning to change from the inside out.
- Start making a list of your own personal qualities. And by personal qualities, I do not mean “brown hair.” I mean really personal characteristicw you can observe about yourself like short-tempered, great sense of humor, impatient, adventurous, silly, or energetic. Start your list by writing everything you can think of. Then follow up, every single day this summer, by continuing to pay attention and adding more observations about yourself. If you run out, ask others who know you for their input. The process of doing this forces you to focus inward, on yourself, instead of what you usually do: focus outward, on everyone else. This process also helps you amass valuable self-knowledge and self-awareness that will help you be more yourself with the important people in your life.
- Use at least one of the phrases: “I feel…” “I want…” or “I need…” every single day followed by something true to yourself. “I want Mexican food,” “I feel frustrated,” or “I need help with this,” for example, forces you daily not only to pay attention to yourself but also express yourself. This makes you take yourself more seriously as well as take up more space. When you use these phrases, you are asserting yourself, making yourself seem more human and more real to other people. It will make those around you feel closer to you.
One day, far off in the future, you will look back on the Summer of 2018. You will remember what you did and you will remember how it felt.
You will think about how it was the summer you started to change; to come alive, and to fill your own shoes. To let the people around you know and love you the way they always wanted to.
Thinking back, you will be filled with pride and contentment as you realize:
2018. Yes. That was the summer I transformed my relationships.
To learn much more about how to heal the effects of CEN in your relationships, see the book, Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents & Your Children.
Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) can be invisible and unmemorable so it can be difficult to know if you have it. To find out, Take the CEN Questionnaire. It’s free.