When you feel emotionally neglected, it can be very difficult to love yourself for who you are because you believe that you’re constantly being ignored or put down, even more so when you’ve felt that way throughout your entire life. Emotional neglect has a tendency to compound upon itself in self-destructive ways the older you get, and it often leads to debilitating anxiety and severe depression. Even facing the day can be a brutal experience at times because of how you grew up to believe that you didn’t deserve to advocate for yourself, put your own priorities first, or make yourself heard.
Emotional neglect can originate from parents, friends, acquaintances, romantic partners, or even people on social media. If you’re feeling emotionally neglected, words and actions from others can influence you to believe that your opinions, feelings, and thoughts do not matter and that you aren’t worthy of being listened to or supported based on a few things you do that seem “wrong” to other people, which in turn can make you doubt yourself so much that you lose all form of control over your own life because of how much the paralyzing fear of displeasing others keeps holding you back from changing your life for your own fulfillment and personal excellence.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some little things you can do for yourself whenever you’re feeling emotionally neglected:
1. Turn off all electronics and sit in a dark room in total silence. Observe everything from your breathing to your racing thoughts and emotional unrest.
2. Who do you hang out with and why? Ask yourself if certain friends or acquaintances make you feel excluded more than included and make an effort to stop hanging out with them and instead, get used to feeling more comfortable with extended periods of solitude.
3. Pay close attention to how you feel when you scroll on social media. If you feel like you’re far behind other people or not as important as someone else, give yourself permission to unfollow whoever is making you feel that way. Consider doing a big social media purge and then look for accounts which do make you feel less alone.
4. Make a list of everything that makes you feel like you have something to live for. It can be certain skills, talents, passions, or life values that you strive to uphold. This is a deeply introspective activity that will make you more conscious of not only what you have to offer to the world but also what you can create for yourself.
5. Let yourself feel completely vulnerable. Cry. Pour your heart and soul out into whatever art form that you gravitate towards the most and make it your own personal masterpiece.
6. Write a letter to yourself so you can read it on the days when you’re feeling like you’ve hit rock bottom emotionally.
7. Pick up on a new sport that you think you’d enjoy. It can help you unleash all the negative energy that has built up over the years.
8. If you’re the type of person who feels happier after listening to sad music, go ahead and make a playlist filled with your favorite sad songs.
9. Also, make a playlist filled with your favorite happy songs and play it in the background while you’re doing a necessary task that you’ve been dreading all week.
10. Have a movie night by yourself. Pick your favorite movie that gives you a new perspective on your daily life, no matter how many times you watch it. Or you can pick a new movie you haven’t seen before but are interested in watching.
11. Call an old friend you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. If that friend lives nearby, ask if you can have a get-together and have some heartfelt conversations.
12. Make a “disappointment list.” List everything that makes you feel disappointed about yourself. Next to each item on the list, write down specific people or instances which reinforced that feeling of disappointment.
13. Make a list of every expectation you think certain people in your life have of you. Ask yourself whether they are important to you or not and make an effort to focus on the expectations that you do genuinely want to fulfill.
14. Pick one thing you feel most confident about and make an effort to do even more of that each day.
15. If you constantly feel unheard and neglected in a particular area in your life (this can apply to relationships, family, work, or really anything else), now is the time to speak up and assert yourself so that people can understand that you won’t put up with being a pushover.
16. Allow yourself to be completely honest about what you hate about your life right now. When you feel emotionally neglected, there must be a few things in your life that are directly causing you to feel that way. You might feel trapped or abused or simply alienated from everyone else in your life, in a way that makes you feel unwanted. Do one small yet life-changing thing today that would help you move on from anything that’s exacerbating these feelings of neglect.
17. Visit your local library and borrow a few books that you loved as a child, a few books that you loved as a teen, and a few books that you think you’ll love but haven’t read before. Make an effort to finish reading those books in a month. Reading is a great way to remind you that there is a wide range of human experiences and much for you to learn about yourself through the eyes of someone else.
18. If you’re spending a lot of money to make up for how empty and neglected you feel, take a cold, hard look at your expenditures from this year and see what you can do to cut out anything that provides a temporary escape but still does nothing to make you feel better overall. Think about ways you can have fun and relax without being influenced by others or being compelled by the fear of missing out.
19. Have one go-to activity (a positive and healthy one, of course) you resort to whenever you recognize that you’re about to enter into a downward emotional spiral. Make time for that today and the following days so that you can do it on autopilot.
20. Try a new art form that you think is cool, but you haven’t tried yet because you thought you would suck at it. This will help you silence the inner critic and allow your true self to release your emotions in a therapeutic and liberating way.
21. After many years, even when you are separated from the people who directly affected you, emotional neglect can be self-inflicted and entirely in your own head. Today, treat yourself with respect, in a way you would treat someone you would trust your life with. You do not deserve to neglect yourself or cut yourself down just because someone couldn’t see the light in you and failed to recognize that you have potential for growth.
22. Take a look at all the goals you have for your life that are making you feel too self-conscious about how other people would react (or causing you to live in other people’s heads more than in your actual reality). Give yourself permission to scrap anything that makes you feel like you have to earn approval of those who have neglected you.
23. Make a list of all the things you love naturally. Remind yourself that you can build a life you love filled with everything that brings you joy, and you don’t have to pretend to be a certain way or like anything you don’t like to win others’ affection or approval. Get rid of anything you once pretended to like or reminded you of a time when you weren’t genuine.
24. If you have a project you’ve always wanted to do but you’re too afraid to start, form the building blocks of that today, as a way to reassure yourself that you matter, the work you do matters, and you can channel your thoughts, ideas, and feelings into something that best reflects who you are as a distinct individual with so much potential.