When children do not get the connection they need, they grow up both seeking and fearing connection. When children do not get their needs met, they do not learn to recognize what they need, are unable to express their needs, and often feel undeserving or even guilty of having their needs met.
Initially, our survival strategies are life saving responses and represent successful adaptations, not pathology. However, how we adapt and how we accommodate, as children, are not always successful adaptation as adults. They may limit us as adults. Living life based on adaptation learned in childhood restricts our capacity to respond appropriately and creatively to many challenges of adult life. How many adults can identify and ask for their needs to be met?
The coping strategies that initially helped us survive as children over the years become rigid beliefs about who we are and what the world is like. Our beliefs about ourselves and the world, together with physiological patterns associated with these beliefs, crystallize into a familiar sense of who we are.
This is what we come to view as our identity. Can you see how the lack of connection/emotional needs in childhood can crystallize into an adult adaptation of feeling as if you need no one or ask no one for your needs to be met?
Paying close attention to the process of connection and disconnection, of regulation and dys-regulation, we can strengthen our sense of agency, feel less at the mercy of our childhood experiences and most importantly, re-regulate our nervous systems.