Child Abuse: Can Someone Feel Guilty For Putting Their Needs First If They Were Brought Up By A Self-Absorbed Parent?
Having needs is part of the human experience but that doesn’t mean that everyone feels comfortable with their needs. When someone is in this position, it is likely to be normal for them to overlook their own needs.
In fact, they might not even be aware of most of their needs and so they are unlikely to realise that they are neglecting themselves. In general, then, they will be there for others and do what they can to meet their needs.
Yet, although they will be abandoning themselves, they can typically receive approval from others, with them being seen as a ‘good’ person, for instance. They can also often be described as ‘selfless’ and as an example to follow.
This could show that they live in a society where someone is either seen as being selfish or selfless. There is then going to be no middle ground, there will only be two extremes.
A Big Plus
Receiving this feedback is likely to have a positive impact on their well-being but it is unlikely to stop them from experiencing ‘negative’ feelings. Not being there for themselves is likely to cause them to often feel angry and frustrated and to often feel totally drained.
Yet, they could typically cover up how they feel, with this internal feedback being both suppressed and repressed. If they do pay attention to what is actually going on for them, they could come to the conclusion that they suffer from depression.
A Cover Up
After this, they could end up being put on medication and soon find that they are able to carry on as before. Ultimately, the feedback inside them will be there to let them know that they are living in the wrong way.
It is then not that they just feel down for no reason; is that they feel down because they are out of alignment with themselves. Sooner or later, something could happen that will shake them up and allow them to gradually see clearly.
At this point, they could wonder why they are not there for themselves and are so focused on others. Even so, if they were to think about what it is that they need, they might struggle to connect to their needs.
The same thing could occur if they were to try to connect to their feelings. This will illustrate that they don’t have a very strong connection with their body but, if they have spent years both suppressing and repressing their needs and feelings, this is not a surprise.
The Next Stage
Now, assuming that they were to start to reconnect to their body and slowly became aware of their needs and feelings, they might not be able to just start taking care of their needs and listening to how they feel. Just thinking about changing how they behave could cause them to feel guilty and ashamed.
Additionally, they could feel very anxious and even fearful. Based on how they feel, it will be clear that putting themselves first is seen as something that is bad and a threat to their very survival.
A Confusing Scenario
If this is how they have been for most of their life, it is highly likely that their early years were anything but nurturing. This may have been a time when they were brought up by at least one parent who was unable to provide them with the love that they needed to grow and develop in the right way.
Throughout this stage of their life, this parent might have generally used them to meet their own needs. They might not have been able to accept that their child was a separate being who had their own needs and feelings.
Irrespective of what their motives were for having a child, once this child was born, it would have been seen as having one purpose – to fulfil their parent’s needs. And, if they expressed their needs during this time, they might have soon been disapproved of, punished and/or rejected and abandoned.
This would have sent them the message that their needs were bad and expressing them would cause them to be isolated. Naturally, as they were powerless and dependent, they would have had to adapt to what one was going.
This would have involved them losing touch with their needs and feelings, so their true self and creating a disconnected false self. The priority of this false self would have been to please their parents.
A stage of their life, then, when they desperately needed to receive love was a time when they had to be there for their parent. A parent who was likely to have been emotionally underdeveloped and felt like a child deep down.
The past repeats itself
What this shows is that someone doesn’t just grow out of their early deprivation; they have to face their own early wounds. When this doesn’t occur, it is not going to be much of a surprise if, when they have a child or children, they end up unconsciously turning their child or children into the parent or parents that they never had.
The roles are then reversed and the next generation is forced to provide something that they are unable to truly provide. This can be seen as a type of abuse that is insidious as someone can grow up and believe that they were not abused, as they were not physically harmed (assuming that was the case).
Drawing the line
Taking this into account, it will be important for them to keep in mind that while they would have personalised what took place during their formative years, as they were egocentric, what took place was a reflection of how wounded their parent or parents were. The truth is that there is nothing inherently wrong with their needs and feelings.
For them to know this, at the core of their being, they are likely to have beliefs to question and pain to face and work through. This is something that will take courage and patience and persistence.
If someone can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.