"The therapeutic movement puts a lot of emphasis on abuse when it talks about trauma. What is often missing is a dialogue about the traumatic nature of neglect. Both abuse and neglect can have a traumatic impact on the receiver and impede their developmental processes. When a child's needs and presence are ignored, they often experience the neglect as a trauma. With no tools to understand that the parent's neglect is a function of their own issues and challenges, the child has a tendency to assume that they are being neglected because they are unworthy of attention and love: "If the parent doesn't notice me, if the parent doesn't meet my needs, I 'must' be unwelcome on the planet." If this internalization lasts too long, it can congeal into a web of self-hatred that is difficult to overcome. It is difficult to believe in our inherent magnificence if we carry the belief that we are unworthy of love. May we begin to weave a deeper understanding of neglect into our understanding of trauma. If we want children to believe in their value, we have to remind them of it by attuning to them and meeting their needs. Even a comment like "I am sorry I have not been attentive lately- I am overwhelmed- Please don't take it personally" can make a big difference. A little bit of attention goes a long way..."
I love this passage from the wonderful Jeff Brown on how emotional neglect impacts our young souls....and it completely applies to us as adults as well. Often,
I think we are all just very tall children still looking for a "welcoming" place where we feel worthy of love....Days are filled with "adultness"-paying bills, supervising teams of people at work, voting for other "large children" to run our country, fight out wars, when do we feel worthy, inspired, when do we make others feel the same? Perhaps starting with how we listen to others? I know when I experience true attention from someone they are listening with their body, mind and spirit sometimes not saying anything at all. I feel in those moments that I have been witnessed and a little part of my "5 year old" has been welcomed....
How do you attend to people in your life? What do you think you could do to let them know you find them magnificent?