I hope by now that you have a pretty good sense of what Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is (if not, refer to my previous blog posts). You’ve seen yourself in the description of how it feels to have CEN as an adult, and you have an idea of where it came from. I’m hoping that has given you a measure of relief, knowing there is a name for how you’re feeling, and that there might be hope for feeling better.
So, what do you do now?
There are actions you can take to heal from CEN on your own. For example, I highly recommend Dr. Jonice Webb’s book Running on Empty, as well as her video program Fuel Up for Life. Peer support is another way of healing, and there are online resources, such as Facebook groups, that can help. These self-help approaches provide a very good foundation for healing from CEN, and they go a long way to help reflect on your experience and learn about how you developed CEN.
While it may be enough for some to do these self-help approaches to healing from CEN, it may not be enough for everyone. I’ve heard from clients I’ve worked with that they gained an understanding of CEN on their own, but it wasn’t enough by itself for them to truly heal. CEN came about from flawed early relationships, and it can take working in relationship with a therapist to correct those flaws.
The following is how I work with clients in healing from CEN, which I call Cultivating Wholeness. It’s an organic and fluid process, focused on each client's unique needs, and not exactly a step by step process.
Step 1: Understand your adult experience of CEN… On my last post, I gave a list of categories of the manifestations of adult experience with CEN. The roadmap for healing comes from each of those categories. We identify the areas that are most troubling for you, whether it's in one or all.
Step 2: Embrace your childhood experience of CEN… understand what kind of parents you had and the impact of your experiences on your current adult life. What developmental tasks did you not learn? What core beliefs did you internalize?
Step 3: Cultivating Wholeness... As we understand how your adult circumstances connects to your childhood experience, we identify what is missing for you. To cultivate wholeness begins with building the inner foundation of your self, then extends to building relationships with others.
Cultivating Emotional Wellness and Freedom: Supporting mood / emotion / feelings; this is where you build on your emotional intelligence, learn about the purpose and value of having and expressing emotions.
Cultivating your Loving Inner Voice: Shifting from the Harsh Inner Critic; identify the messages you tell yourself; stop blaming yourself; development self-compassion.
Cultivating your True Nature: Who am I? What is my Self-Image / Identity? How do I learn to trust and accept myself?
Cultivating Self Love: Via Self-Care / Self-Compassion / Self-Discipline; learn how to identify your needs and nurture yourself; improve self-discipline; develop ways to take care of yourself and have compassion for yourself.
Cultivating Inter-Dependence: Shifting from Counter-dependence; learn how to trust others, ask for support and take risks in relationships.
Cultivating Connection / Belonging: Breaking the Cycle of CEN; how to connect with others with authenticity; break the cycle in parenting and relationships.
Everyone is different and unique, and each person who suffers from CEN will have a different and unique approach to healing.
From what we've already talked about in this blog, can you identify what is the work to be done for you to cultivate wholeness?