Self-neglect isn’t a lifestyle choice; it’s most often a learned behavior.
It affects millions of people. Mostly women.
Sadly, the women affected by this deceptive cycle are rarely aware that they are self-neglecting.
How Does This Happen?
The origins of self-neglect begin at a young age when a girl is impressionable. She is observing and learning about her world. The pattern begins to develop if the girl was abused, neglected or models her behavior after her self-neglecting mother.
When a young girl is abused physically, sexually, or emotionally, or she is neglected by absent or distracted parents, she is conditioned to believe that being abused or neglected is normal. To the young girl, this is normal. She knows no other normal.
The pattern of abuse continues as the girl becomes a young woman and gets romantically involved. She knew abuse as a girl and expects it from her partner as a woman. This is her normal.
Hopefully, somewhere along the way, an event happens that causes her to rethink what she was conditioned to believe. That the abuse she’s been experiencing isn’t right. That it’s not normal. Finally, she realizes that instead of being loved by her partner she’s been the victim of abuse.
Then, if she is a champion and manages to get out of the abusive relationship, she will oftentimes end up abusing or neglecting herself.
Because she learned how to punish herself from her abusers and doesn’t know any other way.
This is why the cycle of self-neglect is so insidious.
In Our Society
Sadly, caregivers can get into a cycle of self-neglect.
In our society, women are encouraged to care unconditionally and praised when they tirelessly give. They’re the ones who are always there, getting it done, no matter how long it takes or how arduous the task.
They take on this role unconsciously and sublimate themselves to expectations. However, it’s not their fault. They do it because that’s what their mother and grandmother before them did.
It’s a generational model of behavior that not only robs them of their self-respect, but it also fosters an environment of neglect.
Hiding from the World
The hardest thing about self-neglect is that it’s difficult to spot.
What most people see on the outside as a kind, big-hearted, woman selflessly giving to her family, friends, and community may be a woman who is neglecting herself on the inside.
Outside, things look fine.
Inside, it’s not.
See why it’s so hard to spot?
Women who neglect themselves have learned as children to hide from the world and continue to do so as adults.
They have few, if any, close friends and don’t confide in anyone. They hide their depression because it would be shameful and demeaning if anyone knew. When things get bad for them, they go the medical route and get pills, habitually disguising what’s really going on.
Women who self-neglect are experts at making things look good on the outside.
To add insult to injury, because she was severely neglected in the past, she thinks it is her fault! It’s hard to believe that this loving, giving women would feel worthless and not worth the time. Yet that’s exactly how she feels.
Is it any wonder why a woman who believes that about herself won’t nourish herself?
10 Signs of Self-Neglect
There are various reasons why women self-neglect. Some have insight into their behavior, while others do not.
Self-neglect can present in different ways:
- Not eating enough food or drink.
- Drinking coffee for breakfast and no other nourishment.
- Relying on sugar to make it through the day.
- Not drinking enough water causing dehydration.
- Self-medicating with prescription drugs or alcohol.
- Ignoring physical pain.
- Pushing through the pain.
- Skimping on sleep.
- Never dealing with the pain behind the smile to the world.
- Not acknowledging or validating the pain they’re in.
These are all neglectful actions.
Help for Women Dealing with Self-Neglect
Are you or someone you know dealing with self-neglect? Before today, you probably didn’t give it much thought. And might not have thought of self-neglect as a problem.
While there is no quick-fix solution, it is possible to recover from self-neglect.
The answer lies in developing HEALTHY HABITS.
First, I want you to know these things:
- It’s not your fault. However, it is in your best interest to unlearn how to self-neglect and learn how to self-respect.
- You’re so worth taking care of, especially when others need you.
- Time for your self-care is not the same as being selfish. Think of it as a requirement to continue your life’s work.
- It’s smart to seek guidance, especially in the areas of nutrition, restorative sleep, and emotional empowerment.
- Emotional distresses are your lessons in life. We all have them. They’re in your life so you’ll become a better person for having walked through the fire into healing.
Turning Self-Neglect into Self-Respect
Your life can only be fully expressed when you, your body, and your emotional well-being are properly nourished and hydrated.
If you’re a tree and the roots are the foundation, your tree of life will fall over and crash when you don’t take care of your foundational roots.
That means care of self is the next step for anyone experiencing any of the signs of self-neglect.
Emotional, nutritional, and hormonal balance is the key. Although most traditional medical doctors will treat the presenting symptoms of self-neglect, as a Holistic Consultant, I focus on helping women discover the underlying cause. I’ve found when you do that; very often the symptoms go away.
As a result, you’ll find your whole life shift and come into balance. You’ll feel joy, take care of yourself, eat nutritionally, develop healthy relationships, and feel alive.
By turning self-neglect into self-respect, you’ll feel empowered, vibrant, and sparkle! It’s your time to learn how.