I have noticed that the feeling of responsibility runs rampant in CEN adults. Some CEN folks feel so concerned that their friends are having fun at an outing that they are unaware of whether they themselves are having fun. Many CEN people become the “go-to” person at work because they are quick to take on more responsibilities with little thought about themselves. CEN people are automatic caretakers who others find it easy to rely upon.
So what makes it so natural for CEN folks to feel responsible? First, a word about Childhood Emotional Neglect, what it is and what it’s not.
Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN)
CEN is not a form of childhood abuse because it is far more subtle than that. In fact, it is best described as an absence of something. It’s an absence of emotional awareness in your childhood home.
Growing up without emotional awareness may seem insignificant to many. But CEN is actually somewhat of a “gaslight” of the child. It is a mind-altering experience.
Our emotions are literally wired into us from birth. They are a valuable internal feedback system that motivates, energizes, directs, informs and connects us. A child’s feelings are also the deepest, most personal, biological expression of who they are. Imagine how confusing it is when your parents act as if yours are unacceptable or don’t exist.
As a child growing up in a CEN family you have no choice you must cope with the requirement to show no feelings. Like other children in this situation, you must push your feelings down and away so they will not bother anyone. You wall them off.
How CEN Makes You Feel Too Responsible For Everything & Everyone
In my first book, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect I outline 10 Characteristics of CEN adults. But to understand why people with CEN feel such a deep sense of responsibility we will focus specifically on 4 special ones below.
These four lingering effects are all at work in the life of the CEN adult. Like four separate streams they flow together to form a river of responsibility that runs through you.
Under-focused and under-aware of your own feelings and needs, acutely aware of others, who seem more important to you, combined with amazing problem-solving and self-care skills, you are literally set up to feel overly responsible for other people’s happiness, comfort, health, success or satisfaction.
How to Feel Less Responsible
Your childhood sent you up with certain patterns, yes. Through the unspoken rules of your childhood home, you learned to feel — and be — responsible. You can take this great strength and, like a powerful light, turn it away from everyone else and shine it upon yourself.
You deserve the attention. You deserve the care. You are responsible for making sure that your feelings, your needs, and your wishes are known and considered. First, you know and consider them yourself. Then, others will follow.
Childhood Emotional Neglect is often invisible and unmemorable, so it can be hard to know if you have it. To find out, Take the Emotional Neglect Test (link below). It’s free.
To learn much more about CEN, how it happens, and how to heal it, see the book Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect (link below).
To learn how to address the effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect in your family, connect with your spouse and parents, and emotionally validate your children, see the book Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships (also link below).
This content was originally published here.