Home » Blogs » Childhood Emotional Neglect » 6 Mistakes People With Childhood Emotional Neglect Always Make

6 Mistakes People With Childhood Emotional Neglect Always Make

Everybody makes mistakes. Literally, everyone does. We make decisions we wish we’d never made, say things we later wish we’d never said. We slip, we trip, we make dumb jokes that no one laughs at. In hindsight, we can often find ourselves looking back and wishing we had made a different choice.

So errors are, in fact, a natural and unavoidable part of being human. But the worst mistakes are the ones we never know about. The ones that are literally built into our brains, that we never question because we assume they are “right,” never realizing how very wrong they are.

These are the errors we are destined to make over and over and over again. Often, others can see us making them and wish that they could help. But they can’t.

For these are mistakes that we can only stop making once we see them and realize they’re wrong. And to see them, we must know about them and accept them for what they are. We must also face the fact that we’ve been making these same mistakes over and over for our entire lives. And that is not easy. In fact, it’s really hard.

But the pay-off is truly tremendous. That’s why I’m going to help you do it right now.

How Childhood Emotional Neglect Causes Certain Mistakes Over and Over Again

Being raised in an emotionally neglectful family just means that your family ignored or dismissed your feelings enough to communicate to you that your feelings did not matter.

When you learn this as a child, probably without ever knowing you are learning it, you take that very false “truth” forward as a fact of life and you live by it. Living by a false truth you learned in childhood wreaks unknown, unspoken, unrealized havoc on your adult life.

Believing that your feelings, which are meant to be your protectors, directors, connectors, and decision-makers throughout your life, are useless or burdensome, puts you at a grave disadvantage. You can then live decades of your life without a vital, energizing resource that other people enjoy.

It holds you back in your relationships, your growth potential, and your opportunities. And perhaps most important of all, it causes you to make the same, predictable mistakes in your life, over and over and over again.

6 Mistakes People With Childhood Emotional Neglect Always Make

Believing that you are fundamentally different from everyone else

The fact that your life is governed by a powerful and fundamentally false “truth” does make you different in a certain way. Everyone else’s life is powered and enriched by their feelings, whereas yours are repressed and minimized. You may sense that other people have something unnameable that you’re missing. You may look around and see people living a life in full color, whereas yours seems to be in grayscale. This makes you believe that you are fundamentally different, but you are actually not. Your feelings are all still there, wired into your body. You only need to start treating your feelings differently.

The Mistaken Action it Causes You to Make Over and Over: Avoiding other people and assuming you don’t belong.

Taking responsibility for things that are out of your control

Being out of touch with your own feelings makes you overly vulnerable to other people’s feelings as well as external events and circumstances. If you were more directed by your inner self (your emotions) you would operate from your own truth and feel more confident and grounded.

The Mistaken Action it Causes You to Make Over and Over: You continually try to “fix” things for other people. You put effort into controlling things you cannot control and feel guilty for things that are not your fault.

Believing people will be repelled or burdened by your emotions

When you view your feelings as a burden, you naturally want to “protect” other people from them. This makes it very difficult to have true, lasting relationships that are deeply personal, lasting, and strong.

The Mistaken Action it Causes You to Make Over and Over: You lock away your feelings and hide them. You act as if you’re not upset, hurt, or angry when you are actually feeling those feelings for legitimate reasons. You try to sideline your own feelings, assuming they will cause people to reject you. You end up acting in ways that are not true to yourself.

Trying to have no needs

Just as you assume that having feelings is negative, you also assume that having needs is negative. So while you push your emotions away, you also reject your own needs. You believe that having needs makes you weak and that you should be able to do everything on your own.

The Mistaken Action it Causes You to Make Over and Over: Catering to others’ needs before your own. Failing to speak up for your own best interests.

Passing up opportunities

Being out of touch with your emotions has you operating from a weakened position. You may lack the confidence in yourself and your own gut sense of things that would allow you to take risks. You are predisposed to operate from what feels safe instead of looking at possibilities as a positive thing.

The Mistaken Action it Causes You to Make Over and Over: Saying, “No,” when you should say, “Yes.” Your fear that you can’t do things leads you to pass up chances to learn and grow and strive to meet your full potential.

Clamming up when you are emotionally challenged

Everyone’s life is punctuated by uncomfortable moments. Someone questions you or hurts you, yells at you, or asks you disagreeable questions. This may happen in your marriage, at work, in your friendships, or even with your children. When someone expects and needs you to respond to them, you don’t.

The Mistaken Action it Causes You to Make Over and Over: At times of uncomfortable challenges, you put up your giant wall — perhaps thinking you are protecting them from your own feelings and/or needs — and you clam up. You deprive others of working through issues with you and of getting to know you on a deeper and more emotional level. It is a big mistake and you keep on making it.

The Takeaway

Throughout my years of specializing in Childhood Emotional Neglect in my psychology practice, I have seen that these 6 mistakes are highly predictable in CEN adults.

The only way out of our mistakes is to fully accept that they are real. It’s hard to face our mistaken ideas and take responsibility for how they have affected others, especially since often it’s the ones who are closest to us who are hurt, saddened, or frustrated by them.

But accept it, we must and face it, we must. Keep in mind that mistakes are not things we choose. They are not conscious decisions that we make. So facing them does not mean that you are a bad or lesser person. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Facing your CEN Mistakes actually makes you a stronger, better person and a better wife, husband, parent, worker, or boss. It allows you to open your mind to new possibilities and literally change the way you live your life.

So starting right now, begin to embrace this truth: Your feelings are an essential expression of who you are. They are valuable, meaningful, and useful. Once you begin to notice and value them, you can use them. Then, your pattern of mistakes will be halted forever.

If you suspect you may be making some of these mistakes in your own life visit and Take the Free Emotional Neglect Test. You can find the links to both below in my Bio.

6 Mistakes People With Childhood Emotional Neglect Always Make

Jonice Webb PhD

Jonice Webb, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who is recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking work in defining, describing, and calling attention to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). She writes, speaks, and trains therapists on the topic, and is the bestselling author of two books, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. She also created and runs the Fuel Up For Life Online CEN Recovery Program. Since CEN can be difficult to see and remember, Dr. Webb created the CEN Questionnaire and other free resources to help you figure out if you have it. Take the CEN Questionnaire and learn much more about CEN, how it happens, and how to heal it at her website

51 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Webb PhD, J. (2020). 6 Mistakes People With Childhood Emotional Neglect Always Make. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Aug 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.