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Relational Traumas also Include What You Didn’t Get

“Relational traumas also include what you didn’t get,” says Dr. Jen Wolkin, a prominent psychologist and author. This statement carries a profound implication about the nature of trauma. It acknowledges that emotional neglect, invalidation, and a lack of attunement to one’s needs can be just as traumatising as overtly abusive behaviour.

The Invisible Wounds of Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect may be invisible, yet its impact is deeply felt. It’s a void, a silence that speaks volumes about the lack of warmth, empathy, and attention one craved and needed. This neglect can result in individuals feeling unimportant, invisible, or unworthy, and these feelings often carry into adulthood, impacting self-esteem, relationships, and mental health.

Emotional Invalidation and its Effects

Similarly, emotional invalidation can be highly damaging. When feelings are regularly dismissed or ignored, it sends a message that they are not valid or important. This can lead to a person disconnecting from their own emotions, struggling to understand and express them, or constantly seeking external validation.

Addressing the Lack of Attunement

A lack of attunement to one’s needs during childhood can be especially traumatising. When caregivers are not responsive to a child’s needs or emotions, the child may grow up feeling unheard and misunderstood, struggling to trust others, and developing unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Signs of Unresolved Relational Traumas

Signs that unresolved relational traumas may be impacting your adult life can include difficulties forming secure relationships, a chronic sense of emptiness, feelings of unworthiness or guilt, difficulties trusting others, and emotional dysregulation.

Healing and Growing from Relational Traumas

Healing from such traumas involves acknowledging them, understanding their impact, and undertaking a journey of self-compassion, acceptance, and growth. Therapy can be an invaluable resource, offering a safe space to explore these issues and develop healthier ways of relating to oneself and others.

Some practical steps you can take include cultivating self-compassion, learning to recognise and validate your own emotions, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, and seeking support when needed. Practicing mindfulness can also help you become more attuned to your emotions and needs, fostering a stronger connection with your inner self.

Self Drive Psychology Summary

It’s important to remember that healing is a journey that takes time, patience, and perseverance. As you navigate this path, remember Dr. Wolkin’s words and acknowledge the weight of what you didn’t receive. This acknowledgement can be a powerful first step in moving towards a healthier, more empowered future.


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