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Running on empty by Jonice Webb, PhD – Remarks

Posted by Raul Barral Tamayo en Martes, 30 de junio, 2020

© 2019 Jonice Webb, PhD

Do you feel dissatisfied or disconnected in your life?

This surprising new book can help you finally understand why, and fix it.

This book is not about what happened to you as a child; it’s about what failed to happen for you as a child; it’s an extremely subtle, almost invisible factor called emotional neglect, and it disrupts one’s life in untold ways.

Psychologist Jonice Webb, PhD shows how emotional neglect in childhood has an insidious effect on us as adults, causing us to struggle with self-discipline and self-care, or to feel unworthy, disconnected, and unfulfilled.

This groundbreaking book helps readers:

  • Discover how parents, even well-intentioned ones, can leave our emotional tank empty.
  • Identify symptoms of Emotional Neglect and their impact on health, work, and relationships.
  • Repair the damage of Emotional Neglect and learn life-changing self-care behaviours.
  • Be more emotionally supportive and connected in our own parenting.
  • Gain strategies for helping a patient or loved one overcome Emotional Neglect.

People experience childhood emotional neglect to varying degrees–from a few subtle but important events to an entire childhood that’s defined by it. This is the first book to give it a name and delve into the profound and often perplexing ways it influences our adult satisfaction and happiness.

Jonice Webb has a PhD in clinical psychology, and has been licensed to practice since 1991. She has a strong background in research, psychological testing and psychotherapy. Dr. Webb has been the Director of three large outpatient clinics over the course of her career. She currently has a private psychotherapy practice in Lexington, MA, where she specializes in the treatment of couples and families. She currently resides in the Boston area with her husband Seth ,and two children, Lydia and Isaac

Comments extracted from the book, they could be right or wrong, you decide for yourself:

  • This book is written to help you become aware of what didn’t happen in your childhood, what you don’t remember. Because what didn’t happen has as much or more power over who you have become as an adult than any of those events you do remember.
  • Pure emotional neglect is invisible. It can be extremely subtle, and it rarely has any physical or visible signs. In fact, many emotionally neglected children have received excellent physical care. Many come from families that seem ideal.
  • All parents commit occasional acts of Emotional Neglect in raising their children without causing any real harm. It only becomes a problem when it is of a great enough breadth or quantity to gradually “starve” the child.
  • Whatever the level of parental failure, emotionally neglected people see themselves as the problem, rather than seeing their parents as having failed them.
  • This is not to say that adults who were emotionally neglected as children as without observable symptoms. These symptoms always masquerade as something else: depression, marital problems, anxiety, anger.
  • Emotional neglect qustionnaire. The answers give you a window into the areas in which you may have experienced emotional neglect as a child.
    • Sometimes fee like you don’t belong when with your family or friends.
    • Pride yourself on not relying upon others.
    • Have difficulty asking for help.
    • Have friends or family who complain that you are loof or distant.
    • Feel you have not met your potential in life.
    • Often just want to be left alone.
    • Secretly feel that you may be a fraud.
    • Tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations.
    • Often feel disappointed with, or angry at, yourself.
    • Judge yourself more harshly tha you judge others.
    • Compare yourself to others and often find yourself sadly lacking.
    • Find it easier to love animals than people.
    • Often feel irritable or unhappy for no apparent reason.
    • Have trouble knowing what you’re feeling.
    • Have trouble identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
    • Sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in.
    • Believe you’re one of those people who could easily live as a hermit.
    • Have trouble calming yourself.
    • Feel there’s something holding you back from being present in the moment.
    • At times feel empty inside.
    • Secretly feel there’s something wrong with you.
    • Struggle with self-discipline.
  • There is a minimal amount of parental emotional connection, empathy and ongoing attention which is necessary to fuel a child’s growth and development so that he or she will grow into an emotionally healthy and emotionally connected adult.
  • Most parents are good enough.
  • All good parents are guilty of emotionally failing their children at times. Nobody is perfect. We all get tired, cranky, stressed, distracted, bored, confused, disconnected, overwhelmed or otherwise compromised here and there.
  • Emotionally neglectful parents distinguish themselves in one of two ways, and often both: either they emotionally fail their child in some critical way in a moment of crisis, causing the child a wound which may never be repaired OR they are chronically tone-deaf to some aspect of a child’s need throughout his or her childhood development.
  • The harm comes from the totality of important moments in which emotionally neglectful parents are deaf and blind to the emotional needs of their growing child.
  • If there is an absence of validation of a child’s importance to the parent, if a child is made to feel shame for wanting or needing attention from one parent or the other often enough, she will grow up being blind to many of her own emotional needs.
  • This is the danger of Emotional Neglect: perfectly good people, loving their child, doing their best, while passing on accidental, invisible, potentially damaging patterns to their daughters.
  • Most prominent categories of parents.
    • Type 1: The Narcissistic Parent.
      • They gravitate towards evidence that confirms that sense of superiority, and they avoid interactions or relationships that provide evidence to the contrary.
      • They hold grudges, blame failures on others, banish people to the doghouse, and tantrum when things don’t go their way.
      • They don’t like to be wrong.
      • When their children make mistakes that are visible to others, narcissists take it personally and make their children pay.
      • They don’t really recognize their children as people separate from them.
      • They play favorites and often find a least one of their children a disappointment. It is sometimes only in adulthood that the favored child of a narcissit realizes that her parent’s love has been conditional all along.
    • Type 2: The Authoritarian Parent.
      • Dr. Baumrind described them as rule-bound, restrictive and punitive, raising their children based upon very inflexible and unbending demands.
      • They require a lot from their children. They are expected to follow their parents’ rules without questioning them.
      • Most abusive parents fall into the authoritarian category.
      • Not all authoritarian parents are abusive.
      • Many of them tend to equate the child’s obedience with love.
    • Type 3: The Permissive Parent.
      • They could be described as taking the path of least resistance.
      • At best, they just want their children to be happy. At worst, they simply don’t want to have to do the work of parenting. Either way, they do not provide their children with limits, structure, or, in adolescence, a strong adult presence against which the child can rebel.
      • Saying “no” takes energy. Forcing one’s child to do a chore or task takes energy. Dealing with an angry child takes energy. Being momentarily hated by your child for saying no is painful.
    • Type 4: The Breaved Parent: Divorced or Widowed.
      • They are often just desperately trying to cope. It’s no easy to have a parent who is grieving. It’s even harder when they are grieving your other parent, whom you lost too.
      • Children who lose a parent through divorce or death have their own grieving to do.
    • Type 5: The Addicted Parent.
      • In an unprecedented boom of high-tech toys, credit purchases, unlimited web access, and social networking, there’s plenty of potential for nay of us to develop an addiction.
      • What harms children of functional, neglecful parents is this: they are behaving like two people. And the child cannot always predict which side of her addicted parent is going to show up. When caught up in their addicted behavior, they forget to parent.
      • After a childhood chock full of unpredictable parenting, the adult child of the addict is anxious, worried and secretly insecure.
    • Type 6: The Depressed Parent.
      • They have little energy or enthusiasm for the job of parenting.
      • They often seem to disappear. He is turned inward, focused on himself and what’s wrong with him, worried about whether he’s going to make it. He has low energy and little to give. He is missing in action in the lives of his family. And whe he is present, he may be irritable or glum.
    • Type 7: The Workaholic Parent.
      • They are often driven, successful people who are admired and looked up by co-workers, family and community. Unfortunately, it’s their children who often suffer in silence.
    • Type 8: The Parent with a special needs family member.
      • When a child grows up with a serious illness in the family, whether it’s that of a parent or of a sibling, the care-giving that would normally go toward the child is compromised.
      • Life in a household with an ill child or parent is often in crisis mode.
      • When parents are (or feel) powerless to change the bad things in their children’s lives, they tend to minimize the effects of those bad things.
    • Type 9: The Achievement / Perfection Focused Parent.
      • A lot of Narcissistic parents are perfection-focused because they want their child to reflect well on them.
      • A healthy AP parent is supporting her child to achieve what the child wants. An unhealthy AP parent is pressuring her child to achieve what the parent wants.
      • Some are trying to live their own life through their child.
    • Type 10: The Sociopathic Parent.
      • The kind of sociopath we’re interested in is different. This sociopath quite possibly never breaks a law and has never been to jail. But deep down, she is not like the rest of us. Sometimes no one can see that something is wrong except the people who are closest to her. Often the children can feel it, but that doesn’t mean they understand it.
      • A sociopath feels no guilt. He’s freed up to do virtually anything without having to pay any internal price for it. A sociopath can say or do anything she wants and not feel bad the next day, or ever.
      • If the sociopath succeeds in controlling you, the may actually feel some love for you. The flip side of that coin is that if he fails at controlling you, he will despise you.
      • The single most reliable indicator that you’re dealing with a sociopath is when a person appears to purposely hurt you and then proceeds normally as if they did nothing wrong, and as if you should not be hurt.
      • Typically the children of sociopaths desperately try to make sense of their parents’ behavior.
      • While extreme and harsh punishments are a hallmark of sociopathy, not all sociopathic parents neccessarily mete out extreme consequences.
      • The common factor for all sociopathic parents is that to them, raising a child is much like everything else; it’s all about power and control.
    • Type 11: Child as Parent.
      • They actually allows, encourages or forces his child to behave as if he is a parent, not a child.
      • Sometimes the child must parent himself, and sometimes he must parent his siblings too. In the most extreme esamples a child can even be called upon to parent her own parent.
    • Type 12: The Well-Meaning-but-Neglected-Themselves Parent.
      • Even the most loving and well-meaning parents can be emotionally neglectful.
      • They make up the largest subset of emotionally neglectful parents.
  • Low self-worth, low self-steem, and self-blame quickly add up to depression.
  • One has the oportunity to process and understand events that happened, but no chance to process what can’t remember what didn’t happen.
  • Spending a lot of time with your child is not even a requirement for preventing Emotional Neglect. You can be aware of your child’s feelings, help him understand himself, and stay in tune with this emotional needs without spending tremendous amounts of time with him. Time helps make it easier, but a lack of it can be overcome.
  • Events themselves don’t cause Emotional Neglect.
  • To love your child is a very different thing from being in tune with your child. For healthy development, loving a child just isn’t enough. For a parent to be in tune with his child, he must be a person who is aware of and understands emotions in general. He must be observant so that he can see what his child can and can’t do as he develops. He must be willing and able to put in the effort and energy required to truly know his child.
  • One of the unfortunate aspects of Emotional Neglect is that i’s self-propagating. Emotionally neglected children grow up with a blind spot about emotions, their own as well as those of others. When they become parents themselves, they’re unaware of the emotions of their own children, and they raise their children to have the same blind spot. And so on and so on and so on.
  • original entry: https://raulbarraltamayo.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/running-on-empty-by-jonice-webb-phd/
  • Adults who grew up emotionally neglected often seem normal on the surface, but are frequently unaware of the structural flaw in their foundation. They also have no idea that their childhood played a role. Instead they tend to blame themselves for whatever difficulties they may be experiencing in life.
  • They tend to guard the secret of their emptiness quite carefully, so it is very difficult for anyone to notice what’s missing. Only the closest people in their lives get even the slightest glimpse.
  • Common themes. Every human has some of these characteristics and challenges. I am speaking to people who have a significant struggle with these problems.
    • Feelings of Emptiness. Signs and Signals.
      • at times, you feel physically empty inside.
      • you are emotionally numb.
      • you question the meaning or purpose of life.
      • you have suicidal thoughts that seem to come out our of nowhere.
      • you are a thrill-seeker.
      • you feel mystifyingly different from other people.
      • you often feel like you’re on the outside looking in.
    • Counter-dependence. Signs and Signals.
      • you’ve had feelings of depression but you don’t know why.
      • you have inexplicable, longstanding wishes to run away or simply be dead.
      • you remember your childhood as lonely, even if it was happy.
      • others describe you as aloof.
      • loved ones complain that you are emotionally distant.
      • you prefer to do things yourself.
      • it’s very hard to ask for help.
      • you’re not comfortable in close relationships.
    • Unrealistic Self-Appraisal. Signs and Signals.
      • it’s hard to identify your talents.
      • you sense that you may tend to over-emphasize your weaknesses.
      • it’s hard to say what you like and dislike.
      • you’re not sure what your interests are.
      • you give up quickly when things get challenging.
      • you chose the wrong career or changed several times.
      • you often feel like a “square peg in a round hole”, a misfit.
      • you’re unsure what your parents thinkg (or thought) of you.
    • No Compassion for Self, Plenty for Others. Signs and Signals.
      • others often seek you out to talk about their problems.
      • others often tell you t hat you’re a good listener.
      • you have very little tolerance for your own mistakes.
      • there is a critical voice inside your head, pointing out your errors and flaws.
      • you’re much harder on yourself than you are on others.
      • you often feel angry with yourself.
    • Guild and Shame; What is Wrong with Me? Signs and Signals.
      • you sometimes feel depressed, sad, or angry, for no apparent reason.
      • you sometimes feel emotionally numb.
      • you have a feeling that something is wrong with you.
      • you feel that you are somehow different from other people.
      • you tend to push down feelings or avoid them.
      • you try to hide your feelings so others won’t see them.
      • you tend to feel inferior to others.
      • you feel you have no excuse for not being happier in your life.
    • Self-Directed Anger, Self-Blame. Signs and Signals.
      • you get angry at yourself easily and often.
      • you use alcohol or drugs as a release.
      • you often feel disgusted with youself.
      • you have self-destructive episodes or tendencies.
      • you blame yourself for not being happier and more “normal”.
    • The Fatal Flaw (If People Really Know Me They Won’t Like Me) Signs and Signals.
      • you fear getting close to people.
      • it’s hard to open up to even your best friends.
      • you tend to expect rejection around every corner.
      • you avoid initiating friendships.
      • it can be hard for you to keep conversations going.
      • you feel that if people get too close to you, they won’t like what they see.
    • Difficulty Nurturing Self and Others. Signs and Signals.
      • people sometimes tell you that you come across as distant, or maybe even cold.
      • people sometimes think you’re arrogant.
      • you often think others are too emotional.
      • others come to you for practical advice, but not for emotional support.
      • you feel uncomfortable when someone cries in your presence.
      • you are uncomfortable crying yourself, especially in the presence of another person.
      • you don’t like the feeling that someone really needs you.
      • you don’t like feeling needy.
    • Poor Self-Discipline. Signs and Signals.
      • you feel that you are lazy.
      • you’re a procrastinator.
      • you have great difficulty with deadlines.
      • you tend to overeat, drink too much, oversleep or overspend.
      • you are bored with the tedium of life.
      • you tend to avoid mundane tasks.
      • you get angry at yourself for how little you get done.
      • you’re an underachiever.
      • you have poor self-discipline.
      • you’re often disorganized, even though you know you have the capacity to do better.
    • Alexithymia: Poor Awareness and Understanding of Emotions. Signs and Signals.
      • you have a tendency to be irritable.
      • you are seldom aware of having a feeling.
      • you are often mystified by others’ behavior.
      • you are often mystified by your own behavior.
      • when you do get angry, it tends to be excessive or explosive.
      • sometimes your behavior can seem rash to yourself and others.
      • you feel that you are fundamentally different from other people.
      • something is missing inside of you.
      • your friendships lack depth and substance.
  • Typically the emptiness is chronic, and has ebbed and flowed over the course of their lives.
  • The fuel of life is feeling. If we’re not filled up in childhood, we must fill ourselves as adults. Otherwise, we will find ourselves running on empty.
  • Counter-dependent people go to great lengths to avoid asking for help, to not appear, or feel, needy.
  • People with low self-sttem tend to view themselves in a negatively skewed manner. They exagerate their weaknesses and downplay their strengths.
  • Emotionally neglected adults paint inaccurate pictures of themselves, not neccesarily negative, but simply off.
  • There are two types of compassion: the compassion we feel for others, and the compassion that we feel for ourselves. Emotionally neglected people have plenty of the former, but little of the latter. They tend to be quite judgemental and perfectionist when it comes to themselves. They can get very angry with themselves for a weakness that they would easily tolerate in another.
  • When children are given the message from their parents that their feelings are a burden, excessive, or simply wrong, they will often being to feel guilty and ashamed for having them. They will then make efforts to hide their feelings from others, or even to not have them at all.
  • When a child’s emotions are not acknowledged or validated by her parents, she can grow up to be unable to do so for herself.
  • It is difficult to feel deeply ashamed of something as innately human in oneself as emotions without getting angry with oneself for it. Shame, taken one step further, becomes self-directed anger.
  • Emotionally neglected people tend to feel that they must keep their true selves hidden away from others, because if they let people  get too close to them, their flaw will be exposed.
  • Children who are not emotionally nurtured can grow up to have a great deal of difficulty providing emotional nurturance to others.
  • Most of us knwo that personal advice of any kind is best received when it is accompanied by a feeling of caring.
  • It’s remarkable the number of emotionally neglected people who have tremendous difficulty with these things that we call self-discipline.
  • When a child is left to this own devices, he will learn how to indulge himself. Emotional Neglect often sets us up for problems with self-indulgence.
  • Part of parenting is seeing your child for who he is: not only noticing the things that he’s good at, but also noticing the things that are hardest for him, and putting in the effort to make sure that he addresses those. Many emotionally neglectful parents are very caring, but simply are not involved with their child at that level.
  • If there is one symptom that could be considered the common denominator of emotional neglect, it is probably alexithymia. It denotes a person’s deficiency in, knowledge about, and awareness of, emotion. In its extreme the alexithymic is a person for whom feelings are indecipherable; both their own and other people’s.
  • The only way to deal with a natural pull toward avoidance is to face it head on. Take notice of those moments when your avoidance kicks in, then turn around and challenge it. Remind yourself that it will take you down a one-way street to nowhere. Remind yourself that all things worth having require effort.
  • Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroscientist: “Although many of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think”.
  • For humans, the ability to feel emotion evolved millions of years before the ability to think.
  • Emotion is neccesary for survival. Emotions tell us when we are in danger, when to run, when to fight and what is worth fighting for. Emotions are our body’s way of communicating with us and driving us to do things.
  • For every emotion, there is a purpose. Emotions are incredibly useful tools to help us adapt, survive and thrive.
  • Emotions do more than drive us to do things. They also feed the human connections that give life the depth and richness that make it worthwhile.
  • Emotions can do a variety of interesting things when they are pushed underground or ignored.
    • become physical symptoms like GI distress, headaches, or back pain.
    • turn into depression, causing problems with eating, sleep, memory, concentration, or social isolation.
    • sap your energy.
    • cause you to explode at random times, or blow up “over nothing”.
    • aggravate anxiety and/or panic attacks.
    • keep your relationships and friendships superficial and lacking in depth.
    • make you feel empty and unfulfilled.
    • cause you to question the purpose and value of your own life.
  • When you identify and name your feelings to yourself or to another person, you are taking the wheel and stepping on the gas. You are taking something from the inside and putting it on the outside. You are making the unknown known. You are taking charge.
  • Turn your attention inward, and ask yourself as many of the following questions as needed to develop an understanding of the feeling:
  • What is going on in my life right now that might me feel sad?
  • Has something happened recently to upset me?
  • Has something sad or troubling from the past been brought back up by recent events?
  • Is this feeling of sadness familiar to me?
  • Have i felt this sadness often before?
  • If so, when and why?
  • Is this an underlying feeling that’s often with me?
  • If so, what’s happened in my past that may have caused it in the beginning?
  • Emotions themselves are not good or bad, right or wrong, moral or amoral. Every human being has felt rage, jealousy, hate, destructiveness, and superiority, for example, at one time or another. These feelings themselves are not bad, and do not make us a bad person, it’s what we do with them what matters. Do not judge yourself for your feelings. Judge yourself for your actions.
  • Feelings do not always make rational sense, but they always exist for a good reason.
  • With every emotion our body is trying to send us a message, no matter how bizarre that may seem.
  • Emotions that are hidden tend to have a lot of power over us. When we are aware of an emotion, we can then take charge of it.
  • The four steps to maximizing the value of our emotions, and gaining energy and guidance from the. First, Identify the feeling, then, second Accept it. Do not judge it as bad or good. Third, try to discern the reason you’re having that feeling, or Attribute it to a cause; fourth, identify whether there is an Action that the emotion calls for and, if so, take it appropriately.
  • A very effective way to harness and use the power of our emotions is to express them appropriately. That means not passively, not aggresively, but assertively and with compassion.
  • In order to be truly assertive, you must have compassion and empathy, meaning an awareness of how what you are about to say may affect the other person.
  • Although you can’t control another person’s response, if you are assertive, you will likely, no matter what he does or doesn’t do, feel better for having taken appropriate action.
  • The magic of feeling better and coping better lies in putting words to your feelings and sharing them.
  • Emotionally neglected people tend to be good listeners. But they are not good at talking, especially about themselves. This cuts them off from a vital source of sustenance in life. After all, emotional connection is the stuff of life, making it worth living. It is the heartbeat of humanity.
  • Four steps to learning to nurture yourself: A. Putting yourself first. B. Eating. C. Exercise. D. Rest and relaxation.
  • There is nothing wrong with saying yes. The problem comes when you feel that unless you have a really good cause to say no to a request, you must say yes.
  • A primary rule of assertiveness is that anyone has the right to ask you for anything; and you have the equal right to say no, without giving a reason. If everyone operated this way, feeling free to ask for help when needed and feeling free to say no when desired, the world would be a better place.
  • Saying no when you need to, free of guilt and discomfort, is a vital building block of self-care.
  • Emotionally neglected adults can have great difficulty knowing themselves.
  • An important part of caring for yourself is knowing what you like. Knowing what you like will help you defien what you want.
  • There’s no right or wrong to your likes and dislikes. They simply are what they are, and they are valid and important.
  • Consider childhood as the programming phase of your life.
  • Physical exercise is a primary aspect of improved health.
  • When you grow up with discipline that’s either too harsh or too lax, you do not get the opportunity to internalize the ability to discipline yourself in a healthy way. You don’t learn how to make yourself do things that you don’t want to do.
  • A parent who’s in tune with her child sees when her child is tired, and makes sure to the best of her ability that the child gets some rest, whether the child wants to rest or not. An ware and observant parent does not make her child rest when it’s convenient for the parent; she makes the child rest either on a regular schedule, which teaches the child to routinely and consistently take care of himself. A child has the opportunity to internalize all of these skills for himself. He will know his own signs of tiredness.
  • Of course no parent is perfect at this; it all boils down to whether he does it well enough.
  • As an emotionally neglected person, it’s important for you to determine where your parents may have failed you, well-meaning or otherwise, and correct it for yourself.
  • Self-talk is probably the most useful and versatile of all self-soothing strategies. It involves literally talking yourself through your uncomfortable feeling state. Remind yourself os simple, honest truths which will help you keep things in perspective. Here are some examples of things you can say to yourself: “It’s only a feeling, and feelings don’t last forever”, “You know you’re a good person”, “You know you meant well”, “You tried your best, and it didn’t work out”, “Just wait it out”, “This will pass”, “I need to figure out what I can learn from this, and then put it behind me”.
  • If you have a lack of compassion for yourself, you’re more likely to castigate yourself with a ruthless internal voice for your own honest mistakes and errors.
  • Compassion, along with empathy, is one of the highest forms of human emotion. It’s healing, soothing and unifying. It pulls people together and holds them in a positive and compelling way.
  • Don’t punish yourself in a way that you wouldn’t punish someone you care about.
  • If you make a mistake, there’s only one thing you can do and that’s learn from it. Anything else is wasted energy.
  • As an emotionally neglected person, you didn’t get the advantage of internalizing a loving-but-firm voice from your parents.
  • All of life is about learning, growing and becoming better.
  • The only way to give your child what you don’t have yourself is to provide yourself with what you don’t have.
  • While Goleman considers the effects of the parental emotional failure from the perspective of emotional knowledge. I am attending to the resulting constellation of psychological symptoms: emptiness, poor self-awareness, lack of self-care, self-directed anger, self-blame, and so on.

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