Some of the ways we protected our hearts from emotionally distant parents can get in the way of satisfying adult relationships. Many adult children of emotionally immature parents learned to withdraw emotionally in ways that can undermine the relationships they need in their adult lives. Early emotional neglect and criticism from parents can make us feel chronically inadequate, guilty, and ashamed as adults. With emotionally distant parents, we grow up unsure about whether other people will want to connect with us.
Knowing how your past still affects you is a tremendous first step forward to creating better relationships. This is the inside job part of your healing; the willingness to self-reflect and to think about how your parents’ immaturity may have affected you. Viewing your parents from an emotional immaturity perspective helps you separate an emotionally lonely past from what is possible now. This inside job part stirs up the desire for the outside help you might need.
Emotionally-based psychotherapy is the outside help that helps us heal from the emotional injuries and loneliness from such a childhood. By being in a safe therapy relationship with an encouraging and empathic helper, we can finally realize what happened to us, and why we feel the way we do. The emotional connection with a therapist helps reverse the emotional isolation we experienced early in life. This is the outside help that is so essential to healing in a deeply experiential, emotional way.
Reaching out to other people for help deepens and accelerates inner change. Our inner strength increases when we receive validation and connection from others, making it safe to fully explore our feelings. Our inside job is to be curious and motivated to learn about ourselves. Then we can reach out to other people for emotional support to change our lives for the better. It is a paradox that the change originates inside ourselves, but we still need the healing connection with a trusted person to give that a safe place to happen.
To locate psychotherapists who specialize in providing supportive connection for deep emotional change, I recommend Accelerated Emotional Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP). You can visit their website (aedpinstitute.org) and look for therapists available in your area.