33 thoughts on “Is Your Guilt Blocking You From Healing Your Childhood Emotional Neglect?

  • March 1, 2020 at 11:38 am

    This is a 100% TRUE! Guilt is the worst and in my case sometimes overwhelming. I started meditation and mindful self compassion classes and it is so clear to me that I can feel compassion towards others but not towards myself and when i do i feel guilty.

    • March 1, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Dear Alina, becoming aware of your guilt and how it’s harming you is so important. Now you can work to actively manage it.

  • March 1, 2020 at 11:53 am

    I identified mostly with “Scott” (even though I’m a woman). When I want to become more slim, fit, more beautiful (and what woman does not!?), go to beauty salon, vacations in order to relax and feel good…I usually feel so guilty!! Like it is not okay to have “vanity goals” and to pay so much attention to my own well being is somehow inherently wrong. That I shouldn’t and I’m not “supposed to” want such things. When I do go to a holiday and beauty salon, I usually do feel the guilt. Now when I type this message and read your post…I suddenly feel so silly. Feeling guilty is indeed mindless! If I would (well, I don’t!) harm other people, I should feel guilt. But if I do something that promotes my own well being, then why I feel guilty?
    Other people also contributes to the guilt, my mom especially. I’m very sensitive to guilt-tripping. She says things like that I should save money instead using it etc. I’m good with my financial situation and never spend recklessly and I’m not at all vain or superficial person at all!
    Not sure why she wants to control me.
    It’s interesting, I seem to have this block of “feeling good about myself”. I eat often things I shouldn’t, it’s hard to lose weight, almost like doing some unconscious self-sabotage, that keeps me in this place that I cannot fully relax and feel good about myself, be the very best myself. Please, could you explain what is the dynamics of this (in addition to this guilt issue), what is it that as a cen person, it’s difficult to “feel okay” about myself and then this guilt even wanting such a thing? What is the deeper issue behind of “needing to feel bad about myself”?
    What purpose it was originally serving? (I think it’s origin is in childhood)
    If I could understand that, then maybe I can untangle it!

    • March 1, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      Dear Anna, it’s not possible for me to do true justice to your question in this limited space. But I’ll only ask you if, deep down, you feel you deserve to be cared for. Many CEN people do not feel like fully valid human beings, and that makes it hard for them to dedicate time, effort and money to their own care. I encourage you to see a CEN therapist to help you sort this out.

      • March 2, 2020 at 7:21 am

        This is definitely part of it for me. Another facet of it is that treating myself like I matter starts to open the door to believing that I might matter to other people as well, and that brings up the abandonment issues that I have on top of everything else. In essence, I’m preemptively abandoning myself as a way to protect myself from my fear of being abandoned by others…this might sound really twisted (because it is), but I’m guessing it makes more sense to the people here than it would to the general populace.

      • March 2, 2020 at 8:34 am

        It does make sense, Tim. It’s understandable but it’s no way to live. I hope you will keep working on this and work through it because you deserve so much more and better.

      • March 8, 2020 at 7:08 pm

        It’s a remarkably terrible way to live, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. Understanding where things come from tends to help me with accepting them as being what they are right now, which in turn is usually the first step toward being able to change something.

        I’ve been digging into childhood trauma stuff (of which CEN is a major piece) with a therapist for better than two years now, and things are starting to be resolved in ways they never have been before (I’m really glad I respond well to EMDR and brainspotting). The closer we get to the core issues the harder it gets to keep going and the more I realize how important it is to not stop. I’m not going to give up.

      • March 8, 2020 at 10:28 am

        Wow! This makes total sense to me, Tim. So much so that I feel a tears in my eyes. I can add attachment disorders too; In retrospect, it appears many of my relationships of all types have lasted a few years at the most before I just quit caring, basically. The discovery of this CEN theory(?) has filled in so many ‘why’ blanks, including why I have issues with relationships with men.

        I went through some issues with my boyfriend (who later became my second husband yet passed away three years ago)at one time in our relationship that caused the abandonment monster to rear its very ugly and frightening head after many many years of dormancy; I did not even know it was an issue with me until I realized this time that abandonment had played some kind of role in *every* romantic relationship that I had ever had. This truth hit me like a ton of bricks in the middle of this particular relationship meltdown, but even so, once this beast came out, I could not get control of it. That was years before I heard of CEN; fortunately we survived that incident; unfortunately, a few years later, he did not survive pancreatic cancer. I wish he were here so we could talk about CEN; we always felt there was something a little ‘off’ about we/me, but he was very accepting of this ‘offness’ and loved me unconditionally. I could go on. . . .But learning about the CEN has really been a gift, so thanks.

  • March 1, 2020 at 11:55 am

    I follow posts on CEN because I have been aware for years something is wrong but only in the last few years putting a name to it and working on healing. Guilt has been one of the most damaging to my growth and happiness and the examples in the article point out exactly how I acted and responded to people due to guilt. Guilt that I wasn’t good enough, that I had to do more for everyone to gain love and acceptance. I agree with Jonice that it’s important to maintain awareness of this feeling and heal with purpose. Reading this article I am proud to say I’ve made definite strides, and growing away from feeling guilty. Feeling free instead.

    • March 1, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      Dear Corinne, it’s so true. Taking control of that old familiar feeling of guilt opens up space in your life. I’m so glad you are feeling the freedom of it. Keep up the good work!

  • March 1, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    but be aware if/when you try to “Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner” and assert yourself, that partner may well have enjoyed you being a doormat, and kick you out. That certainly shows the partner wasn’t worth having, but be prepared for the aftermath!!

    • March 1, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      Dear Kate, of course it matters how we express ourselves when we start to speak up. And most partners will have an adjustment period. But any partner who breaks up with you because you are asserting yourself in a healthy way has probably actually done you a favor. I am so sorry if this has happened to you because it is such a painful thing to go through.

  • March 1, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    This info on guilt has my name!!!!! It is music to my ears. Just what i need! Ty very much!

    • March 1, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      You’re welcome, Karen. I’m sure you do not deserve all that guilt.

  • March 1, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks Dr Jonice. Probably one of the hardest things to let go is the guilt. Guilt for not being there for them, guilt for not fixing relationships and most of all guilt for moving forward in the healing process. A work in progress for me.

    • March 1, 2020 at 6:49 pm

      Unnecessary, toxic guilt, all of it. Keep progressing forward, Sue. You deserve so much better.

  • March 2, 2020 at 3:02 am

    Hello once again .
    That was an excellent article for me . I recognise that feeling of guilt in my life , particularly in the way I have allowed my self to let my guilty feelings from my CEN because my ex partners manipulating me with her passive aggressive demands . I would do way to much to win her love / approval and feel I could not ever please her .

    • March 2, 2020 at 8:15 am

      Dear Kenn, if you manage your guilt then you can use your other feelings to direct and guide you, and that will prevent you from living too much for other people’s needs and wants.

  • March 2, 2020 at 4:33 am

    It’s very difficult to differentiate between justified assertiveness and line-drawing, and actual selfishness. One can suffer from CEN AND be selfish! ‘Objective’ outsiders aren’t. I think guilt can also come from worrying that one is putting oneself down, and/or reinforcing actual narcissism or egocentrism through reference to (certainly existing) CEN. This sounds rather neurotic, but I think it’s a real problem.

    • March 2, 2020 at 8:19 am

      Dear Brian, if you mean using CEN as an excuse for selfish behavior, that is not CEN. It’s using CEN for one’s own purposes.

  • March 2, 2020 at 5:41 am

    Wonderful advice from this so clever psychologist !!! For my part, I can say that my mother’s daily ‘mantra’ to myself and my brother was “after all I have done for you……..” This was her so subtle way of enslaving us children into total submission to her every desire. Years later I understood how she had duped me into trying to win her love but constantly failing !!! Whatever I did for her or gave her, it was NEVER enough. Does this constitute CEN ?
    Today, I am better but, I fear, not totaly healed. I would like to read this psychologist’s book but cannot find it here in England.

    • March 2, 2020 at 8:24 am

      Dear Maxine, expecting a child to be constantly appreciative and cooperative because of “everything I’ve done for you” is certainly a sign of a parent who is not attuned to the child’s feelings and needs. You can find my book in England, for sure. Check your largest online sellers and perhaps your local library.

  • March 2, 2020 at 7:19 am

    We are very rare humans, we expect other humans to share our ‘virtues’ and they actually do appear to do so. Only when we know people deeply that we start acknowledging that most people have no values at all.

    • March 2, 2020 at 8:29 am

      Dear Taha, I’m sorry you have experienced this. I do not believe it’s true. Please keep trying to open up and get to know people so you can have some different experiences.

  • March 2, 2020 at 8:50 am

    “You have a strange relationship with guilt”, he said to me. He was incredulously commenting on the latest of my numerous emotional crises. That was 30 years ago. His simple statement has rung within me all these years.
    Shame has defined me all of my life from my earliest memories to today. It influences every decision I make. Every single one, without exception. It has been the single most powerful force in my life. Two years ago, I lashed out at my father in a cruel and emotionally violent text. Among other things, I informed him he was no longer a part of my life and I wouldn’t be attending his funeral.
    It must have been a terrible letter to read. If one of my children communicated something like that to me, it would absolutely destroy me. However, I could no longer carry the emotional burden of our nonexistent connection. I could no longer blame myself for him not touching me, listening to me, guiding me… when I was in my formative years.
    I’ve survived 3 suicide attempts. The last was in 2017. My latest recovery has been the most positive and profound. I can attest to the difficulty of learning to manage the guilt/ shame. For me, it began with accepting that my condition will never go away. No pills, no therapy, nothing will exorcise this demon from my identity. However, it’s a powerful force that I can tap for my betterment and wellness. I have been stubbornly rejecting my worthiness and value for my entire life.
    Through extended counseling therapy, self medicating with micro doses of pcsylosiben, and the support of my loved ones, I’m turning the tide. I’ve managed to get stubborn about my wellness. It’s working! For the first time in my life, I’m able to put my shoes on before I put on someone else’s. It doesn’t come easily, but it does come.
    The powerful shame facet of my core construct is an expression of my desire to fulfill the emotional needs of my young self. I understand this. These needs were not fulfilled so many years ago, and that yearning for fulfillment has defined me. It has given me a peculiar window into my soul, and now is the source of my artistic passion. I see me now. I see me. This alone makes all the pain worth it. All those years of depression and dysfunction strengthened me. I have endured an enormous amount of emotional pain. And survived. Now, I’m tapping that powerful passion and I am thriving. To thrive and not just be alive is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Thank you for the work you do. The world could use more folks like you.

    • March 2, 2020 at 9:12 am

      Dear Jim, what an impressive achievement you’ve described here. Turning your weakness into a strength and using it to heal. Thanks so much for sharing your story and keep doing what you’re doing!

  • March 2, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    I so needed to hear this right Now! I almost guilted myself into making a trip to see my abusive parents…the stepdad is sick and Hospice has been called. I know if I make the 8 hour trip I will cry the entire trip due to dreading it! They were never there for me and I can’t face them.

    • March 3, 2020 at 8:02 am

      Dear Sonya, it is vital that you protect yourself above all. I hope you make the decision here that will preserve you and your emotional and physical health.

  • March 3, 2020 at 5:30 am

    I wonder if self-blame and self-accusing is a part of this picture? Every time I stand up for myself and get negative feedback I start “hitting myself in the head”. Even if I don’t get any feedback I start ruminating on “why did I say that” or “what will others think of me after I said/did this and that.

    • March 3, 2020 at 8:01 am

      Dear Bridget, yes self-blame and self-accusing surely are part of the picture. You are not alone! Please do learn more about CEN.

  • March 4, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Yes one can ask me to do something….I will do it not because I want to but to prove to you I am valuable. I think they call this overachieving. I will try twice as hard.

  • March 5, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I have felt guilty all my life, I often say I should have sorry wrote on my forehead. Over the last few years I have withdrawn from my sister due to feeling scared and intimated (not physically) like I’m walking on eggshells having to pacify her and feeling so unsupported. I feel so guilty about this and feel like I’m the bad one. I’m constantly trying to figure her out and tell myself off for not being able to confront her about how I feel. I care for my adult daughter with P. T. S. D. which has been so difficult to deal with on my own over the last 9 years but feel she hasnt shown me or my daughter compassion or support. We now only see each other on family occasions which is very awkward and is horrendous for my daughter.
    We siblings all have CEN but her and one brother are both selfish and intimating. I cannot understand how it affects us so differently. I know I should try and talk to her but am so exhausted anyway and don’t know where to start and scared it would all go terribly wrong. She can also be passive aggressive.

  • April 6, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    When I have started to speak up and advocate for myself and my needs, I’m being told I’m selfish and that I should feel guilty, by my husband!
    What I’m trying to recover from from my childhood my husband is keeping the cycle going…how can I not feel crazy?!


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