Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘mean what you say and say what you mean? This simple principle could be easier said than done if you grew up in a family where your emotions were not a priority. As an adult, you may lack emotional integrity, an important quality to sustain healthy and honest relationships.
Experiencing Emotional Neglect in Childhood
Did you grow up feeling like something was not right in your family, but you did not know what it was? Were you often confused about your feelings and how others felt about you, particularly your parents and friends?
Some children have caregivers that fail to meet their emotional needs. This can mean that feelings were ignored, discouraged, or treated as unimportant. Perhaps your mother rarely noticed when you were upset or seemed to barely listen when you explained your troubles. Maybe your father outright rejected your feelings because other things were considered more important, like working or taking care of the family’s material needs.
What Is Emotional Integrity?
Unlike other forms of child abuse, neglect can be subtle and hard to make sense of. A lack of emotional connection with your parents may have had strong and lasting effects that now cause trouble in how you maintain adult relationships.
Emotional integrity is the quality of being honest about your feelings to yourself and others, even when it is challenging. What you express outwardly is true to what you are experiencing internally. You know what you are feeling and why and how to communicate it.
Having emotional integrity while in an intimate relationship is also essential for your partner’s sake because they need to be able to interpret your behavior and respond appropriately accurately. Pretending like everything is fine when you are bothered can be confusing and painful for them. They will not know what to do to comfort you. This can put a strain on the relationship if left unresolved.
How Does it Manifest in Relationships?
A lack of emotional integrity shows up in relationship dynamics, particularly with romantic partners. The following are signs that you (or your partner) may be having some trouble:
- you avoid conflicts and difficult discussions
- you are often uncertain about how you feel
- you have guilt or resentment for your emotions
- you try to hide your weaknesses or struggles from your partner
- your partner has described you as unpredictable and confusing
- you try to avoid situations that make you vulnerable with your partner
- your relationship is like a rollercoaster, and you never know what to expect
- you tell your partner small lies to avoid specific topics that could upset them
Clinical Methods Can Help You Heal
If you were neglected throughout childhood, it is crucial to get help for the emotional trauma you may have taken into adulthood. Intrapersonal and interpersonal dysfunction can be isolating and lead to mental health problems and substance abuse. Re-learning how to identify, name, or express your feelings is a vital part of healing to be fully available for yourself and your partner.
Therapeutic modalities that can aid this process include the following:
Couples & family therapy can help you, and your loved ones understand why there are relationship challenges and how to address them so that healthier dynamics can be formed.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you how to identify negative patterns of thought and behavior, so you can change your response while it happens. It also focuses on helping you develop a more positive self-image.
Dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT) is designed to overcome emotional dysfunction and trauma, particularly as it relates to interpersonal relationships. Therapists help you become more mindful to recognize emotions in yourself and others and tolerate complicated feelings without shutting down.
Eye Desensitization Movement Reprocessing (EDMR) is used to treat emotional symptoms associated with trauma. The therapist will guide you to focus on painful memories to process them effectively to begin to move on.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Shut You Down.
With the baggage of emotional trauma weighing you down, it can be tough to decide to go to therapy. Maybe you are nervous about what therapy will be like or if it will be worth the effort. The process of healing from the past can be painful and frustrating, but over time you will start to see the fruits of your labor through a healthier relationship with yourself and others.
Not everyone lived in a happy and healthy household growing up. Some parents do not meet their child’s emotional needs, putting them at risk of carrying emotional deficiencies into adulthood. A lack of emotional integrity can be painful for both the individual and their romantic partner, as feelings are not effectively communicated, leaving everyone confused and dissatisfied. Avalon Malibu is a fully licensed mental health and addiction treatment center for adults. Our clinical team can help you overcome confusing family dynamics and emotional dysfunction through modalities such as couples & family therapy, CBT, DBT, and EDMR. We provide our clients with multiple paths of recovery to find what works for them. Therapists will help you acquire the skills you need to change old thoughts and behavioral patterns so you can emotionally re-connect with yourself and your loved ones. If you are worried that your emotional health is suffering, please give us a call at (844) 857-5992