The way you see the world is called your perception, and your perception is driven by your internal experience of yourself, others and the world. What you take in from your environment gets digested and then regurgitated as your external experience. This is true both as a child and as an adult and it’s a constant ongoing process throughout life that is dependent on what’s happening in any given moment or day. However, the most imbedded experiences that stem from your earliest life are the most influential, and this is particularly true when it comes to love.
The most important experience you could have as a child is to internalize a feeling of being loved. If you hold an internal feeling of being loved and valued then you will see the world as a safe and welcoming place. In contrast, if you were unloved you will experience the world as unsafe and untrustworthy.
Walking through the world with a deep feeling of being unloved is painful and limiting. It becomes hard to develop intimate relationships, to see the good in others, and to maintain a sense of confidence in having your needs met. Most detrimental to the unloved child is the difficulty receiving real authentic love from another.
Feeling unloved is imbedded in the heart, soul and psyche. It feels like a sense of disconnection coupled with an experience of not belonging. As an unloved child you develop an internalized model of being unlovable and unwanted, and as an adult this manifests in an avoidance of intimacy and a pattern of unfulfilling relationships.
In an attempt to work through the painful experience of feeling unloved your inner neglected child will seek a repair of the early wounding by looking for love from partners that are most like the original source of trauma. Thirsty for any form of love, she will tolerate almost anything in a relationship with the undying hope that her unmet needs will be fulfilled.
The internal experience of feeling unloved is one of the biggest obstacles to finding the right partner because the level and type of love needed to heal those wounds is unique and can only happen with someone who is willing to honor and respect the need for this special kind of love.
The greatest opportunity for healing the inner unloved child comes in the form of a healing relationship. This can either be with a therapist or lover, but either will need to have a strong foundation of trust and a deep understanding of the type of love needed for reparation.
The first step in the process of healing these wounds comes in the form of self-awareness. Understanding the feelings and behaviors that may be shaping your experience of others and the world will open the door for the self-acceptance and recognition that something is missing.
Here are some observations you will want to make.
- Feel unsatisfied in relationships
- Feel insecure and question your partner’s love of you
- Hear your partner say they can never do enough to please you
- Feel left out or excluded easily and often
- Prefer to be alone or feel safer in solitude
- Find it hard to be vulnerable or share your feelings
- Have a hard time showing or expressing your love
- Feel like something is missing all of the time
The very idea of love, and what if means to feel loved, will escape the unloved child. Never having experienced or learned what it feels like internally to be loved, she will struggle with the deep knowing and recognition of healthy love.
Another positive step toward healing is to contemplate the idea of love, and what it means to you. Answer the following questions as a starting point.
What is your earliest memory of feeling loved? How did your caregivers show love even if it came in a negative form? How do you show love to others? What does love feel like in your present life? What is the highest level of love you want to receive?
It’s okay if you can’t answer all of these questions. Keep them close by and contemplate them regularly until something surfaces.
It’s important to remember that growing into an adult from an unloved place does not mean that you’re damaged or broken. We all come into adulthood with deficits and areas of development that need fulfillment. A lack of love is the most common form of neglect mainly because many parents and caregivers never received it and thus can’t show it in a healthy way.
Take it upon yourself to change so your transmission of love to others and your own family breaks the cycle. Setting an intention to heal the unloved part of yourself and doing the work it takes to fill that empty place will shift you, your life and your immediate world for the better. Most importantly you will be given the opportunity to get the love you deserve.