People who never felt valued growing up usually display these 8 traits later in life

It’s one of the most profound truths I’ve come across:

Individuals who never felt valued during their formative years tend to demonstrate certain behaviors as adults.

I’ve spent countless hours researching, observing, and interacting with these individuals, trying to understand the core of these behaviors. And it’s been an eye-opening journey.

Often, it’s not as blatant as one might think.

There’s a subtle pattern, a soft murmur in their actions and words that hints at their past experiences.

In the following article, I’m going to share with you 8 traits that are commonly found in those who’ve experienced this neglect in their childhood.

This isn’t about pointing fingers or casting blame. It’s about understanding, empathy, and hopefully, healing.

1) They often struggle with self-esteem

One of the most common traits I’ve noticed is a battle with self-esteem.

Growing up without feeling valued can leave deep-rooted scars, and one of them is often a low sense of self-worth.

I don’t mean to say that they’re always downcast or self-deprecating. In fact, it can sometimes swing the other way, with an overcompensation that may come across as arrogance or false bravado.

But at the heart of it, there’s a constant struggle to believe in their own value. They may question their worthiness in relationships, careers, or even in their own abilities.

It’s not a rule set in stone, of course. Everyone is different and deals with their past in unique ways. But if you notice this trait, it could be an indication of a childhood where they felt undervalued or unappreciated.

2) They have a hard time accepting compliments

Here’s something I’ve wrestled with personally: accepting compliments.

When you grow up without feeling valued, praise can feel foreign, even uncomfortable. It’s like trying to speak a language you’ve never learned.

Someone might tell me what a great job I did on a project, or how well I handled a difficult situation. And you know what my instinctive reaction is? To downplay it, to brush it aside, or to immediately point out something I could’ve done better.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the kind words. It’s just… hard to believe them sometimes. And I’ve noticed this same pattern in others who didn’t feel valued growing up. Compliments can be hard to swallow because they clash with that internal narrative of not being good enough.

3) They’re prone to overachievement

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was in high school, and I was absolutely determined to be the best. Best grades, best athlete, best at everything. It was like a compulsion, an insatiable need to exceed expectations at every turn.

Looking back now, I realize what it was – a desperate attempt to feel valued, to prove my worth. It wasn’t just about the accolades or the recognition. It was about trying to convince myself that I mattered, that I was worthy.

This drive for overachievement is another trait I’ve seen in individuals who never felt valued growing up. It’s as if they’re constantly trying to fill a void, to prove to themselves and others that they’re enough.

And while ambition isn’t inherently negative, this kind of relentless pursuit can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction in the long run.

4) They often have difficulty forming deep connections

Did you know that our early experiences can significantly shape our relationships later in life?

Research has shown that children who don’t feel valued may grow up with a distorted sense of what a healthy relationship looks like. This often leads to difficulty in forming and maintaining deep, meaningful connections as adults.

It’s not that they don’t want to connect – quite the opposite, actually. The longing for love and acceptance is there. But there’s this underlying fear, this nagging worry of not being worthy enough. And it can make letting people in, really in, a daunting task.

This difficulty in forming deep connections is another trait often seen in people who grew up feeling undervalued. It’s a complex issue, rooted in past experiences, but understanding it can be a big step towards healing and growth.

5) They’re often overly critical of themselves

When you’ve spent a lifetime feeling undervalued, it’s almost second nature to become your own harshest critic.

I’ve seen it in the way they talk about their work, their appearance, their decisions. There’s this constant nitpicking, this relentless scrutinizing of every little detail.

It’s as if they’re always on the lookout for flaws, for reasons to confirm that they’re not good enough. It’s a painful cycle, one that keeps them stuck in a state of self-doubt and insecurity.

This tendency to be overly critical of oneself is another common trait among those who didn’t feel valued growing up. It’s a harsh internal narrative, one that can be incredibly difficult to break free from. But recognizing it is the first step towards changing it.

6) They may struggle with trust issues

Trust – it’s a vital component in any relationship. But for those who’ve grown up feeling undervalued, trust can be a particularly tricky issue.

There’s this underlying fear of being let down, of being disappointed yet again. It’s as if they’re bracing themselves for the worst, and it can make trusting others a real challenge.

It’s not just about trusting others, though. The struggle often extends to trusting themselves as well. Can they trust their own judgment, their own feelings, their own worth?

These trust issues are another common trait among people who didn’t feel valued growing up. It’s a complex issue with deep roots in past experiences. But with understanding and patience, it’s something that can be worked through.

7) They often feel the need to prove themselves

Ever felt like you’re constantly trying to prove your worth? Like you’re always on stage, performing for an audience that’s perpetually judging you?

Well, for those who didn’t feel valued growing up, this feeling is all too familiar. There’s this incessant need to prove themselves – to their friends, their family, their colleagues, and most importantly, to themselves.

It’s like they’re on a perpetual treadmill, running at full speed but never really getting anywhere. They’re just trying to validate their worth, to feel valued in a world that once made them feel otherwise.

This need to continuously prove themselves is yet another trait often seen in individuals who didn’t feel valued during their formative years. It’s a heavy burden to carry, but with understanding and support, it can be lifted.

8) They’re often highly empathetic

If there’s one trait that stands out to me the most, it’s empathy.

Those who’ve grown up feeling undervalued often have a heightened sense of empathy towards others. They know what it feels like to be dismissed, to be overlooked, to feel less than. And because of this, they’re often the first ones to offer a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, a comforting word.

They have this remarkable ability to understand and share the feelings of others, perhaps because they’ve had their share of emotional struggles. They’re often the friend who checks in on you, the colleague who lends a hand when you’re overwhelmed, the stranger who offers a smile when you need it most.

This heightened empathy is perhaps one of the most beautiful traits stemming from a painful past. It’s proof that even in hardship, there can be growth and beauty. And to me, that’s worth celebrating.

The final reflection

Seeing yourself in these traits can be a tough pill to swallow. But here’s a comforting fact – understanding is the first step towards healing.

Recognizing these patterns is not about dwelling on a painful past or assigning blame. It’s about paving the path for growth and self-improvement. It’s about acknowledging the impact of these experiences and using them as catalysts for change.

Begin by identifying situations where these traits surface. Notice when self-doubt creeps in, when you’re overly critical, or when trust issues arise. Pay attention to your need to prove yourself and your struggle with accepting compliments.

Once you’re aware of these patterns, you can start challenging them. Ask yourself – Do I believe this negative narrative? Is this criticism fair? What’s a more compassionate way I could view this situation or myself?

It may feel uncomfortable at first, and that’s okay. Change is often uncomfortable. But with each small step, with each conscious effort to shift these patterns, you’re fostering self-love and acceptance.

The journey won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. After all, you are worth it.

So here’s to embracing the past, transforming the present, and shaping a future where you feel valued – because you truly are.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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