15 Habits of Adults from Neglectful Backgrounds

Childhood neglect can have a lasting impact on how we navigate the world as adults. These experiences can shape habits that might seem strange to outsiders, but often serve a very real purpose for those who grew up with emotional or physical unavailability from caregivers.

Here are 15 common habits you might see in adults from neglectful backgrounds:

15. Hyper-Independence:

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Having to rely on oneself from a young age can lead to a strong sense of independence that can be a double-edged sword. They may take immense pride in their self-reliance, tackling challenges and solving problems solo. Delegation can be a foreign concept, as they might fear others won’t do the job right or feel a deep-seated distrust in relying on anyone else.

This fierce self-reliance can be a strength, allowing them to be resourceful and adaptable. However, it can also lead to isolation and difficulty building trusting relationships, as they struggle to let others in and accept help.

14. Difficulty with Emotional Vulnerability:

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Neglect often leads to a suppression of emotions as a way to protect themselves from further emotional pain. They may struggle to express their needs and desires, fearing rejection or disappointment if they open up. This can make forming close relationships challenging, as true intimacy requires emotional vulnerability.

Conversations about feelings might feel awkward or forced, and they might shut down attempts to get them to open up.

13. Extreme Self-Sufficiency:

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Similar to hyper-independence, extreme self-sufficiency can manifest in a refusal to accept help, even in emergencies. This might stem from a belief that no one will come through for them, leading them to handle everything alone, even at great personal cost.

Asking for help can feel like admitting weakness or failure, and they might downplay the severity of problems to avoid needing assistance. This fierce self-sufficiency can be admirable, but it can also lead to burnout and a dismissal of their own limitations.

12. Hypervigilance:

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Always on guard, they might be overly cautious and constantly scanning their environment for potential threats. This can be a result of never feeling safe or secure in their childhood, leading them to be constantly on edge. Hypervigilance can manifest in difficulty relaxing, being easily startled, or having trouble trusting new people or situations.

While this constant awareness can sometimes be a strength, allowing them to anticipate problems, it can also be exhausting and make it difficult to enjoy the moment.

11. Difficulty with Trust:

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Neglectful caregivers can erode a child’s trust in the world. This can manifest in difficulty trusting others, even romantic partners or close friends. They may constantly expect betrayal or disappointment, leading them to be guarded in their interactions and hesitant to fully open up.

Building trust takes time and effort, and they might test the loyalty of others repeatedly before allowing themselves to be vulnerable. This can make forming deep connections challenging, as true intimacy requires a foundation of trust.

10. People-Pleasing Tendencies:

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In an attempt to gain approval or avoid further neglect, they might become people-pleasers, putting the needs of others before their own. This can stem from a deep-seated belief that their worth is conditional on their ability to please others.

They might struggle to set healthy boundaries or say no to requests, for fear of rejection or causing disappointment. While this can initially make them appear kind and accommodating, it can lead to resentment and a feeling of being taken advantage of.

9. Difficulty with Intimacy:

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Physical and emotional intimacy can be especially challenging for those with a history of neglect. They may struggle to maintain healthy relationships due to fear of getting close and being hurt again. Physical touch might feel uncomfortable or triggering, and emotional intimacy can be difficult to achieve due to a fear of vulnerability.

Building healthy, trusting relationships requires open communication and emotional connection, which can be a significant hurdle for those who grew up in a neglectful environment.

8. Difficulty Accepting Compliments:

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Unaware of their own worth due to a lack of validation in childhood, they might brush off compliments or deflect praise. This stems from a deep-seated belief that they are undeserving of positive attention. Compliments might be met with self-deprecating jokes or attempts to minimize their achievements.

Learning to accept compliments and internalize positive feedback can be a challenge, but it’s an important step towards building healthy self-esteem.

7. Self-Deprecating Humor:

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Humor can be a powerful coping mechanism, but self-deprecating jokes can be a sign of low self-esteem. They might make fun of themselves before someone else does, a defense mechanism to avoid further pain. While self-deprecating humor can sometimes lighten the mood, it can also reinforce negative self-beliefs.

Learning to laugh at themselves in a healthy way, without resorting to self-criticism, is an important step towards self-acceptance.

6. Difficulty with Boundaries:

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Having clear boundaries can be challenging for those who never learned how to assert their needs or set limits. They might struggle to say no or allow others to walk all over them, fearing rejection or confrontation. This can lead to resentment and feeling drained by the needs of others.

Setting healthy boundaries is an essential skill for protecting your well-being and fostering healthy relationships. Learning to say no and prioritize your own needs can be a challenge, but it’s crucial for creating a balanced and fulfilling life.

5. Prone to Addiction:

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Turning to substances or activities can be a way to numb emotional pain or self-soothe. They might be more susceptible to addiction as a coping mechanism for unresolved childhood trauma. Substances or activities can offer a temporary escape from difficult emotions, creating a dangerous cycle of dependence.

Recognizing unhealthy coping mechanisms and seeking healthier alternatives for managing stress and emotions is crucial for breaking free from the grip of addiction.

4. Food Insecurity Habits:

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Food insecurity in childhood can lead to hoarding food or unusual eating habits as adults. They might bulk buy groceries or overeat for fear of not having enough later. These habits can stem from a deep-seated anxiety about food scarcity.

Learning healthy eating habits and developing a secure relationship with food can be an important step towards healing from past experiences of food insecurity.

3. Difficulty with Messy Emotions:

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Adults from neglectful backgrounds might struggle to manage strong emotions. They might shut down, lash out, or have difficulty expressing their feelings in a healthy way. This can be a result of never learning healthy ways to express emotions as a child. Bottling up emotions can lead to emotional outbursts or difficulty communicating their needs.

Learning healthy coping mechanisms for managing difficult emotions and practicing emotional regulation skills can be immensely helpful.

2. Perfectionism:

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A need for control can manifest as perfectionism. They might set unrealistically high standards for themselves and others, leading to anxiety and disappointment. This can stem from a belief that only perfect is good enough, a belief that might have been instilled by neglectful caregivers.

Learning to accept mistakes and embrace imperfection is crucial for reducing anxiety and building self-compassion.

1. Difficulty with Relaxation:

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Relaxation can be a foreign concept for those who grew up in a chaotic or unpredictable environment. They might constantly feel the need to be productive or worry excessively, making it difficult to unwind and de-stress. This can lead to burnout and difficulty enjoying leisure activities.

Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can be a powerful tool for managing stress and promoting overall well-being.

It’s important to remember that these are just some common habits, and not everyone from a neglectful background will experience all of them. If you recognize some of these habits in yourself, there is hope! Therapy can be a powerful tool to help heal from past trauma and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

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Cassity has had a love of blogging since 2007, when she started her first blog Remodelaholic.com Since then as her interests have grown, and so has her need to share more things that she loves. Tipsaholic was born to share interesting lifestyle, family, kids, travel and financial topics, plus a bunch of stuff in between. I hope you learn some great tips and share them with those you love!

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