People who grew up with insensitive parents usually develop these 8 traits as adults

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Growing up wasn’t easy.

You were surrounded by parents who, despite their best efforts, couldn’t quite grasp the concept of sensitivity.

You tried to communicate, explain your feelings, your fears, your dreams, but they just didn’t get it.

And now you’re an adult, and you’re questioning the impact of your upbringing on who you’ve become.

Sometimes it’s subtle, something you can’t quite put your finger on.

Other times, it hits you like a truck that perhaps the way you react to situations or the way you handle relationships has something to do with those early years of your life.

In this article, we’ll delve into the common traits that adults often develop when they’ve grown up with insensitive parents. 

We’re not blaming or pointing fingers, just trying to understand how our past shapes our present and maybe even our future.

1) Exceptional resilience

Growing up with insensitive parents can be tough. You learn early on that you can’t rely on them for emotional support, and so you learn to fend for yourself.

This often results in an uncanny resilience. You’ve dealt with difficult situations before, so you’re prepared to handle them again.

There’s a sort of strength that comes from having to navigate through the emotional minefield of your childhood, and it often carries over into adulthood.

Your ability to weather life’s storms, to pick yourself up after a setback, to keep going even when things are hard – this is all part of your resilience. 

This isn’t about being unfeeling or hardened, but about developing a certain toughness that allows you to face life’s challenges head-on.

It’s about knowing that you can handle whatever comes your way, because you already have.

2) Difficulty in expressing emotions

As a kid, there was no point in sharing how I felt. My parents didn’t understand, didn’t seem to care, or worse, they’d dismiss my feelings as irrelevant or overblown.

Going through that, you learn to keep your feelings to yourself. You bottle them up, you push them down, you pretend they don’t exist.

And now as an adult, I find myself struggling to express my emotions. It’s like there’s a wall between what I feel and my ability to articulate it.

I can be sad, angry, scared or even joyous, and yet I’ll struggle to share that with others. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I don’t know how.

This inability doesn’t just affect my personal relationships; it impacts my professional life too. When emotions are viewed as weaknesses, it gets hard to show any vulnerability even when it’s warranted.

3) Excessive self-reliance

In my experience, when the people who were supposed to nurture and support me just weren’t there emotionally, I had no choice but to rely on myself.

I remember being 10 years old, dealing with a bully at school. Instead of confiding in my parents, I tried to handle it myself. Not because I was brave or anything, but because I knew they wouldn’t understand or maybe they wouldn’t even care.

Fast forward to now and that self-reliance has become second nature. Whether it’s dealing with a difficult coworker or navigating a personal crisis, my first instinct is to handle things on my own.

Asking for help feels like admitting defeat, like I’m not competent enough to figure things out by myself. It’s a mindset that’s hard to shake off, even when I know that it’s okay to lean on others sometimes.

Being independent is great, but this kind of excessive self-reliance can feel isolating at times. It’s like I’m on a one-person island, trying to handle everything on my own when sometimes all I need is a little help from someone else.

4) Hyper-awareness of others’ feelings

Growing up, I had to navigate my parents’ moods, had to assess the situation before expressing myself or making a request. It was like walking on eggshells, constantly gauging their reactions to avoid any conflict or misunderstanding.

This drill has resulted in an acute sense of awareness towards other people’s emotions. I find myself instantly picking up on subtle signs of discomfort, anger or sadness in others.

But here’s what’s really surprising. Children growing up in such environments often develop this heightened awareness as a survival mechanism. It’s a way to anticipate potential threats and react accordingly.

So now, as an adult, this hyper-awareness has become an integral part of me. It can be exhausting at times, always being tuned into others’ emotions, but it also helps me empathize with them and understand their perspective better.

It’s like I’ve developed a sixth sense for other people’s feelings, just because I had to keep a close eye on my parents’ emotions growing up.

5) Tendency towards perfectionism

I’ve always felt this need to be perfect, to not make mistakes. It’s like I’ve been trying to compensate for something, for the lack of emotional connection I had with my parents.

Growing up, mistakes were not tolerated. A single error could lead to harsh criticism or even total indifference. So, I learned to be careful, to double-check everything, to strive for perfection in all things.

As an adult, this tendency has only intensified. Whether it’s work, relationships, or personal projects, I find myself striving for that unattainable goal of perfection. It’s not just about doing well; it’s about not making mistakes.

But the reality is, nobody’s perfect. And while striving for excellence can be productive, the constant pursuit of perfection can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

It’s a trait I’m still grappling with, trying to understand that it’s okay to be imperfect. Mistakes are part of the learning process and they don’t define my worth.

6) Struggle with self-esteem

As a child, the lack of emotional support and understanding from my parents left me questioning my worth. Their insensitivity made me feel like my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter.

Carrying that into adulthood, I’ve often found myself struggling with self-esteem. It’s like this constant battle in my head where I’m trying to convince myself that I’m good enough, that I matter.

Their harsh words, their dismissive attitude, it all seemed to suggest that I was less than, that I wasn’t deserving of love and respect. And unfortunately, those feelings didn’t just disappear once I became an adult.

Even now, when someone compliments me or appreciates my work, a part of me struggles to believe them. It’s like this voice in my head that keeps questioning my worth.

It’s a hard trait to overcome, this struggle with self-esteem. But I’m learning day by day to silence that voice, to believe in myself and to understand that I am deserving of love and respect just as anyone else.

7) Craving for validation

Growing up with insensitive parents, their approval was something that felt out of reach. No matter how much I tried, it never seemed enough for them.

This constant chase for their validation has carried over into my adult life. I find myself seeking approval from others in all areas of life, be it work or personal relationships.

An achievement doesn’t feel complete until someone else acknowledges it. A decision doesn’t feel right unless someone else approves it. It’s like their validation gives me the assurance that I’m on the right path, that I’m doing okay.

But deep down, I know that this external validation is a shaky foundation to rely on. What matters more is how I view myself, my achievements and my decisions.

It’s a struggle, shaking off this need for external validation and learning to trust my own judgment. But I’m slowly getting there, learning to validate myself and feeling confident in my own skin.

8) Ability to foster deep connections

It may seem counterintuitive, but growing up with insensitive parents, I’ve found an unexpected strength – the ability to form deep and meaningful connections.

I know what it’s like to feel unheard and dismissed. And because of that, I make it a point to listen, to understand, and to validate the feelings of those around me.

As a result, I’ve found that my relationships often run deeper than most. I connect on a level where emotions are freely expressed and deeply understood.

In a way, the insensitivity I experienced as a child has made me more sensitive to others’ emotions as an adult. It’s made me more compassionate, more understanding, and more open to forming connections that are based on mutual respect and empathy.

It’s not an easy journey, living with these traits that were shaped by insensitive parenting. But understanding them is the first step towards healing and growth. And while the road may be long and winding, I know I’m on the right path.

Embracing the journey

If you find these traits resonating with your own experiences, know that you’re not alone. Many of us who had insensitive parents carry these traits into adulthood. But the important thing to remember is that these traits don’t define who you are. They’re simply part of your journey.

It’s not about blaming our parents or dwelling on the past, but understanding how it shaped us. It’s about acknowledging these traits, understanding their origins, and using that knowledge to foster personal growth.

Start by recognizing these traits in your day-to-day life. When do they show up? How do they impact your relationships? Your career? Your self-esteem?

Self-awareness is the first step towards change. And once we’re aware, we can begin to make conscious choices that reflect who we truly are and who we want to be.

This journey isn’t easy. It takes courage to confront these parts of ourselves and willingness to change. But with time and patience, we can reframe these traits into strengths.

So take time for yourself. Practice self-love and self-compassion. Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.

Always remember, you’re not alone on this journey. There’s a whole community out there who understands what you’re going through, who are walking the same path.

And most importantly, remember that despite your past, you have the power to shape your future into whatever you want it to be. It’s never too late to start this journey of self-discovery and healing.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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