Part 2 Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), & the HSP
Dr. Erika Martinez
What is Childhood Emotional Neglect and how does it affect non-HSPs and HSPs? A Highly Sensitive Person being raised by a non-HSP parent could cause CEN. Some symptoms of CEN– feelings of emptiness (a void), feeling deeply and fatally flawed; don’t feel good enough; feeling unlovable/unlikable; seeking external validation to know you’re ok; being very self-sufficient; may have been parentified, may struggle with being assertive, being angry, experience self-blame; have a hard time asking for help; may have trust issues, may be anxious, depressed or stressed out. We talk about vantage sensitivity, attachment styles and exercises to work with CEN.
- What is Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN)?
- A Lack of parental attunement to the child’s emotional needs, and a lack of responsiveness to their emotional needs
- CEN is such an invisible thing—it’s what failed to happen for you
- Symptoms of CEN—feelings of emptiness (a void), feeling deeply and fatally flawed; don’t feel good enough; feeling unlovable/unlikable; seeking external validation to know you’re ok; being very self-sufficient; may have been parentified, may struggle with being assertive, being angry, experience self-blame; have a hard time asking for help; may have trust issues, may be anxious, depressed or stressed out
- If you’re an HSP, and your parents were non-HSPs, that in and of itself could cause CEN
- Counterdependence—difficulty asking for help
Notes from Dr. Jonice Webb’s article “Childhood Emotional Neglect Undermines the Highly Sensitive Person’s Best Strengths
- “You feel things deeply and powerfully…When you grow up emotionally neglected, you learn that your emotions are useless and should be ignored and hidden. This takes your powerful force from within, disempowers it, and perhaps even shames you for having it.”
- “You are a deep thinker who needs to have meaning and purpose in your life…you get the message that your feelings don’t matter…since your emotions are the most deeply personal expression of who you are, it’s natural for you as a child to internalize the message as ‘I don’t matter.’…going through your adult life, you tend to feel less important than other people, and this undermines your ability to experience yourself and your life as meaningful and important.
- “Your intense feelings and your need to have meaning and purpose in your life both make your relationships heartfelt and genuine…you miss out on the opportunity to learn how to understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others.
Truth or Myth—Because I have CEN and had to learn to read the environment to survive, the CEN CAUSED me to be an HSP
Vantage Sensitivity—HSPs will thrive and benefit more in a positive environment than non-HSPs, and conversely, HSPs will be more negatively affected in adverse environments (CEN) than non-HSPs. So HSPs respond better and worse in positive and negative environments/settings than non-HSPs
- When HSPs find themselves in environments that don’t validate and mirror their feelings, they develop coping mechanisms to push down and bury their emotional world. The HSP learns to “dim” or turn down their emotions to fit in the household, but it comes at the expense of their HSP gifts.
4 Types of Attachment Styles—the 1st is a secure style and the remaining 3 are insecure style
- Secure attachment
- Dismissive or avoidant—they don’t connect or seek out relationships
- Anxious or preoccupied—they’re very worried about being in a relationship; they’re worried about their partner, or their partner’s needs. There can be excessive rumination/worry and racing thoughts
- Fearful or avoidant—they seek out relationships, then they run away from them. It’s a yo-yo relationship
Shame Shields from Dr. Brene Brown’s Research
- Move toward people—anxious, preoccupied. They tend to be perfectionistic or people-pleasing
- Move away/withdraw–dismissive
- Move against—aggressive (passive aggressive), act out, fearful, avoidant, condescending
Specific exercises from the book Running on Empty by Dr. Jonice Webb
- Understand the purpose and value of emotions
- Alexithymia—being emotionally illiterate and having a difficult time understanding the behavior of other people
- Identify your own emotions 3x/day
- Monitor your feelings and how they shift throughout the day
- Accept and trust your feelings
- Learn to express yourself effectively
- Self-care and self-compassion
- Self-discipline (there is usually an excess of or a lack of)
Erika Martinez, Psy.D., a Florida licensed psychologist and certified educator, specializes in the assessment and treatment of a variety of mental health conditions in young adults. Combing her expertise in neuropsychology, assessment, trauma, and shame resilience, she helps others explore life’s challenging areas and brainstorm solutions using their personal strengths. With greater self-awareness and confidence, they are able to move forward and lead personally and professionally rewarding lives.
Dr. Martinez provides therapy to high-achievers, professional millennials, and entrepreneurs facing quarter-life crises, relationship meltdowns, and existential dilemmas which can present as a myriad of symptoms including anxiety, destructive behaviors, self-sabotage, depression, loneliness, burn out, poor self-esteem, shame, and impaired social skills. She previously worked in graphic design, human resources, and community mental health. Prior to private practice, she worked in secondary and university public education settings for a decade helping parents, educators, and counselors better understand and serve students with AD/HD, Giftedness, and learning disabilities. Dr. Martinez is also a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (CDWF), bringing the groundbreaking research and curriculum on vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness developed by Dr. Brené Brown to South Florida.
Patricia Young, LCSW is a therapist in San Diego who is in private practice. Patricia works primarily with Highly Sensitive People (HSP) helping them understand their HSPness, and to turn their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate all the gifts they have to offer. Patricia provides online (telehealth) therapy to people who live in California. We meet over a private platform (similar to Skype), and you can have therapy from the privacy of your own home—when the kids are at school or are napping; from work; in your pajamas, or when you just can’t face sitting in traffic or going out.
Running on Empty Dr. Jonice Webb
Running on Empty No More Dr. Jonice Webb
Daring Greatly Dr. Brene Brown
Rising Strong Dr. Brene Brown
Gifts of Imperfection Dr. Brene Brown
Ted Talks Brene Brown
The Power of Vulnerability https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en
Daring Way Weekend Intensive (Dr. Brene Brown’s work)
Dr. Elaine Aron’s website— https://hsperson.com/
Dr. Ted Zeff’s website— http://www.drtedzeff.com/
Strong Sensitive Boy Dr. Ted Zeff
HSP Self-test– https://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/
HSP Child self-test– https://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-child-test/
Introversion, Extroversion and the Highly Sensitive Person by Jaquelyn Strickland, LPC–https://hsperson.com/introversion-extroversion-and-the-highly-sensitive-person/
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MUSIC—Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson www.andyrobinson.com