Journaling Heals Childhood Emotional Neglect Issues

Author - Mari L. McCarthy
Published - October 4, 2016

CreateWriteNow_Purple_Journal_Update_ME.pngWere you emotionally neglected as a child? And would you even know if this was the case?

Here’s an interesting fact: Many people have suffered emotional neglect in childhood without realizing it.

Clinical psychologist Jonice Webb, author of Running On Empty, says emotional neglect is a sin of omission, rather than a sin of commission. It’s not about something bad that parents did, like hitting their child, it’s about something that they failed to do. They failed to pay enough attention to their child’s day-to-day requirements for emotional support.

Because this neglect is a subtle thing, many adults who were neglected as children are not even aware of it.

Emotionally neglectful parents are often loving and have good intentions; their physical care is usually excellent, but they are unaware of their child’s emotional needs. As a result, many emotionally neglected children struggle with identity and self-esteem and suffer from anxiety and depression in later life. They may feel empty inside or struggle to feel part of a social group.

When reading about Webb’s work, I reflected on the Baby Boomer generation to which I belong. And it struck me that this type of accidental neglect was rife in the 50s and 60s. Many parents still held to the Victorian concept that ‘children should be seen and not heard’. And as long as their kids were quiet, parents presumed everything was OK.

What’s all of this psychology got to do with journaling, you may be wondering.

Well, keeping a journal is a great self-healing tool. If you can relate to any of Webb’s comments, and feel you may have been neglected as a child, then journaling may help you find peace of mind.

If your parents didn’t give you enough attention because they were busy, stressed, or pre-occupied with their own problems, you can mitigate the damage. Journaling every day is a way to check in with yourself and give your inner child some time and space.

Journaling helps you understand who you are and why you do certain things. Through regular pen-to-paper writing therapy you gradually identify your strengths and weaknesses and your likes and dislikes. You become aware of your deepest emotions. Your inner child can communicate with the adult person you’ve become- just be careful not to judge or criticize Younger You.

This ‘me time’ is invaluable, because self-awareness is vital in negotiating the world and meeting its challenges.

To really get right into your own unconscious mind and understand what makes you tick, stream-of-consciousness writing is king. Writing anything at all that comes into your head for about 20 or 30 minutes will often produce valuable insights.

There are also some specific questions that can help the process of self-discovery, such as:

  • What were the pivotal moments in your life?
  • Describe yourself as a 5-year-old, a 10-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 20-year-old.
  • Describe yourself as you are now
  • What do you like and dislike about yourself?
  • Who are your favorite people?
  • Who or what do you struggle with the most?
  • What are your greatest talents?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • What scares the pants off you?

Finally, what do you need to change in your life, taking account of your new self-awareness?

If you want to learn how journaling can help you tackle life's challenges and create greater self-awareness, please download the free eBook, The Journaling Guide to Manage The Stress and Strains of Life 


Lyn_Alderson-small_file-2.jpgLyn Alderson is a professional journalist, blogger and author, based in the English Midlands.

She has 25 years’ experience of writing news and features for UK  newspapers and magazines.To find out more about Lyn and her work visit

 If you want to find out more about the health benefits of keeping a journal, check out Lyn's e-book The Write Therapy: How Keeping a Journal Can Make You Happier, Healthier and More Productive available from the Amazon Kindle Store.


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