People who never felt validated as a child often display these 7 behaviors in adulthood

It’s widely recognized that childhood experiences follow us well into adulthood. This is true for both positive and negative experiences.

 But when we think about negative childhood experiences, many people jump straight to things that happened and overlook things that didn’t. What do I mean by this?

 Well, I am talking about emotional validation – when our feelings are accepted and understood …or not.  

 I’m going to bet many of you reading  this had well-meaning but busy parents who might have said things like, “I don’t know what you’re so upset about,” “You always have your head in the clouds,” or “You’re just being too sensitive.”

 We may well dismiss it as tough love, but as Medical News Today notes, such a lack of validation is actually a form of childhood neglect. 

 What kind of effect might constant comments like this have later in life?

 That’s what we are diving into today: seven behaviors that might just be a telltale sign of an unvalidated childhood. 

 Let’s get to it. 

1) They show low self-esteem

 It’s not hard to imagine why individuals who weren’t validated emotionally as children might grapple with low self-esteem as adults. 

 Think about it; if someone grew up frequently hearing phrases like “You’re too sensitive,” “Stop overreacting,” or “You’re just being dramatic,” it would be unsurprising if their self-view was skewed.

 Experts like those at Medical News Today highlight this connection, emphasizing how such childhood experiences shape our adult self-perception. 

Basically, the continuous questioning of one’s feelings and reactions as a result of a lack of validation can lead to persistent doubt in one’s worth and abilities, making the journey to building a solid sense of self-esteem that much harder in adulthood. 

 2) They have difficulty managing emotions

 Do you recall any moments in childhood when expressing joy, sadness, or anger felt like walking on eggshells? 

 We all had these moments from time to time. Now, imagine feeling like that constantly.

 As Psychologist Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault noted in a Very Well Mind post, emotional invalidation can “lead people to feel that they cannot trust their emotions, which can make it hard to regulate those feelings.”

 Basically, when emotional expressions were consistently dismissed or ignored as children, people often find themselves struggling to handle emotions well into adulthood.

For instance, adults whose emotions went unvalidated as children might bottle up feelings until they explode because, as kids, showing emotion didn’t get them the understanding they needed. 

 Or, maybe they swing to the other end, showing emotion in ways that feel overwhelming to others simply because they’re not used to being heard.

 It’s a tough cycle, but understanding this link between past and present can be a game-changer for people struggling with this.

 3) They might have a fear of happiness

 A fear of happiness?

 I know it sounds strange, but think about it: if your achievements or joyful moments were often met with dismissal or ignored, the idea of happiness might feel like foreign territory.

 It’s like your emotional GPS was calibrated to navigate away from happiness, wary of what might come next.

 This fear of happiness is known as cherophobia, and researchers have uncovered that it often stems from an unhappy childhood. 

 It boils down to this: if the people supposed to be our early cheer squad were more about deflation than celebration, happiness might feel like an elusive, even unsettling, destination.

 Understanding this fear and its roots is the first step towards rerouting that internal GPS towards a healthier relationship with joy.  

 4) They find it difficult to validate others’ emotions

 Do you know someone who always seems at a loss for words when someone shares their feelings? 

 It’s a common thread among those who didn’t feel validated in their own emotions during childhood.

 Because emotional expressions were met with indifference or dismissal, they never learned how to properly acknowledge or respond to others’ emotions. And as noted by Psych Central, our adult communication style often reflects what we saw and learned as kids. 

 What’s the result of this?

 They might say things like, “I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal out of this,” or “Just move on, it’s not that serious.” Such responses can seem dismissive or cold, and often leave the person sharing their feelings feeling misunderstood or belittled.

 In more subtle ways, they may simply change the subject or offer a solution without acknowledging the emotional weight of the situation. This lack of emotional acknowledgment can be deeply frustrating for those seeking empathy and understanding.

 It’s not that they don’t care, though. Rather, it’s like they’re missing a page from their emotional handbook.

 This challenge in validating others’ emotions can strain relationships. Recognizing this pattern is a crucial step towards building deeper, more empathetic connections with those around you.

 5) They have a hard time trusting others

 As noted by Healthline, a common effect of childhood neglect is “difficulty trusting others or

relying upon anyone else.” 

 Those who didn’t feel validated during their childhood often suffer from this. A lack of emotional validation can force children to rely solely on themselves, making the concept of trust seem foreign, even risky.

 Do you have a friend who hesitates to confide in others, who second-guesses kindness, or who seems perpetually braced for betrayal? 

 These behaviors might be manifestations of this. 

 It’s like they’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, making it hard to fully open up to others. This defense mechanism, while protective, can also isolate you, holding you back from forming deep, trusting relationships.

 Understanding that this trust barrier is a reflection of past experiences, not the reality of your current relationships, can be the key to slowly lowering those walls.

 6) They may be emotionally unavailable

 Ever noticed a friend keeping their emotions close to their chest?

 On the surface, everything with them might seem fine; they get along well with others, share laughs, but when it comes to delving into deeper emotional territories, there’s a noticeable pullback.

 It’s as if there’s an invisible barrier between their true emotions and what they allow others to see. They might listen intently and nod in all the right places, but when the spotlight turns to them, their responses become guarded, almost rehearsed.

 This might be because they didn’t receive the emotional validation they needed in childhood. As Healthline notes, a less-than-happy childhood can lead to a state of “emotional numbness.”

 This behavior is often a learned response from their childhood, where expressing emotions didn’t lead to validation but possibly to vulnerability or misunderstanding.

 7) They may be more prone to anxiety and depression

 There’s no nice way to put this.  When feelings are consistently overlooked or invalidated, it can set a foundation for heightened anxiety and even depression. 

 This is noted by experts in their field. 

 Psychologist Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault has noted that “Emotional invalidation may also contribute to mental health conditions including depression and anxiety” because it makes people feel like their feelings don’t matter. 

 Researchers of a 2023 study echoed this, noting that adults who had adverse childhood experiences may show depressive symptoms. 

 Like most behaviors on this list, recognizing this link between past experiences and present struggles is vital. It’s the first step in a journey towards healing, allowing an individual to address these deep-seated issues and work towards a more balanced and resilient emotional state.

 The bottom line 

 That’s it from me today, folks.

 It was a somewhat heavier-than-normal topic today, but as always, I hope you found some value in this post.

 If you know someone who displays the above behaviors and you are worried for them, consider encouraging them to seek professional help. 

 Having a supportive friend can make all the difference.

 Until next time.

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