Understanding and overcoming emotional deprivation

Jul 9, 2024

Have you ever felt empty inside that you can’t seem to fill, even though you are surrounded by your friends and family? That could be a possible sign of emotional deprivation. Emotional deprivation occurs when one’s emotional needs aren’t met, which could further lead to the feelings of loneliness and emptiness. In this blogpost, let’s explore what emotional deprivation is, its impacts, and how you can triumph over it.

Signs and Impacts

Emotional deprivation explains as a state where one’s emotional needs for affection, validation, and love are not met. Even though it can happen to any age or any phase of life, it is especially impactful when it occurs to children. It affects their self-esteem, confidence, sense of security, value, and well-being.  

Various factors contribute to emotional deprivation, and many of them are rooted in childhood experiences. Psychologists believe how the caregivers behave and the environment given to a child shape how a child would be in the future. Physical or emotional negligence or detachment, abuse, frequent change of caregivers, high conflict or high stress environment, mental health issues of caregivers in a person’s childhood are common causes leading to emotional deprivation.

Warning signs of emotional deprivation include feeling chronic emptiness, loneliness, sense of lacking support in close relationship, denying the need of emotional support, or trouble connecting deeply with others.

Emotionally deprived people consistently look for external affirmation and validation and sometimes, they could be over-reliant on others for their support and validation. They could also be extremely sensitive to criticism, feedback, and rejection and often struggle to cope with stress or challenges.

Because of the persistent sense of sadness, insecurity, worry, or fear, emotional deprivation can lead one to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety, which can take a big toll on building and maintaining relationships with others. People with emotional deprivation also have a higher degree of suspecting and distrusting others and end up a higher chance of isolation and further emotional deprivation.

Low self-esteem is another negative impact. Some people believe that they are not good enough and don’t deserve love or affection, while others may consistently look for approval without knowing such behavior. After all, they just can’t truly see the true qualities and worth they possess in themselves.

Overcome emotional deprivation

Can people address and heal from emotional deprivation despite the experience they have been through? Absolutely, right support and approaches can lead to a better emotional well-being. Let’s look at a few strategies on overcoming emotional deprivation.

Self-awareness and acceptance

The first step is to recognize and become aware of your emotional needs and deprivation. Acknowledging and understanding your emotions is the starting step toward healing. Once you acknowledge it, it’s also crucial to accept it and continue with the following steps. 


Turn off your own inner critics and criticism and be kind to yourself throughout the process. Self-compassion not only enables you to treat yourself with kindness but also helps you recognize imperfection as part of life. Practicing self-compassion allows you to validate your needs and emotions without guilt and promote a more positive you.

Challenge your negative beliefs and thoughts

You don’t need to be your own worst enemy by telling how worthless or insufficient you are. Rather, be your own cheerleader, challenge and reframe your negative beliefs with more realistic and positive ones. For example, replace the harsh critics with compassion, doubt with acceptance, and sabotaging with nurturing.

Communicate your needs

Emotionally deprived people tend to avoid expressing their needs or even bottle up their emotions, but either way contributes to more frustration, anger, or resentment. While challenging, learn to articulate your needs clearly and openly; by doing so, you not only advocate for yourself, but you also allow others to know you more and provide the support that you are looking for.

Set healthy boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is an essential strategy as it clarifies expectations, establishes parameters, defines acceptable (or unacceptable) interactions, and prevents others from overstepping into your zone. It fosters self-compassion, in addition, it also protects against possible further deprivation.

Immerse yourself in support

A supportive community, may it be your friends, family, or therapists, creates a nurturing environment where you feel safe to open up, valued, and heard. Safe environment and genuine care from others will help rebuild your trust in relationships and offers you a sense of belonging. In time of need, you will have a loving and supportive community who will listen to you, reduce your stress and anxiety, and furthermore offer you practical help.

Develop and practice your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions in yourself and others. The higher EI you have, the greater skills you possess to express your own needs and emotions, cope with negative thoughts and talks, practice empathy, and ultimately lead to a better and deeper connections and understanding. Developing EI will improve your relationships with other and promote your well-being.

Seek professional help

Seeking help is a courageous act toward your future emotional balance and health.

Trained therapists or counselors understand the complexities of emotional deprivation. They not only offer an unbiased perspective, but also a safe space for you to explore and process some complex emotions. They can furthermore help you uncover underlying issues and come up with the needed coping strategies.

For parents

By now, you understand how you can heavily impact your child’s emotional heath in their early childhood experiences. It is your responsibilities to nurture your child’s emotional needs while they are still young. Below are extra tips worth your attention and efforts while you are investing in your child’s emotional health.

Be present and attentive

It’s about being fully present during your interactions with your child, which will help them feel cherished, understood, and valued. Children are sensitive and they can tell if you are truly with them wholeheartedly or not.

Show your love and affection

Observe and know your child’s love language and fill up their love tank with their love languages; physical touch, quality time, affirmation, act of service, or gifts.  

Allow emotional expression

Creating a safe environment for your child to freely express their emotions without judgement. Encourage them to talk about how they feel and teach them how to appropriately express it. By doing so, you will understand your child’s emotional needs and at the same time build your child’s emotional intelligence.

Show empathy and understanding

Be patient with your child’s emotional ups and downs and try to understand from their perspectives. After all, it takes time to grow not only physically but also emotionally. Show your support and understanding, offer guidance as they go through their emotional growth, and make them feel heard and understood.

Listen attentively and actively

Listen to what your child says and doesn’t say with an open mind and don’t jump into judgement or conclusion before they finish what they have to say. Listening well offers a safe space for your child to share what truly in their heart, and it will foster their self-worth and confidence in a long run.

Maintain your own healthy emotions

Kids learn by observing and they model after their parents. Therefore, it’s critical for you to maintain and demonstrate healthy ways to express and deal with your emotions. It is by no means suppressing your emotions; rather, it’s about appropriately express and deal with them. The healthy expressions of your emotions project your emotional stability, which provides a safe and nurturing environment for your child’s growth.

Emotional deprivation can impact your life profoundly. But, recognizing and accepting the deprivation, challenging your negativity, immersing in a supportive community, and seeking help can help address and overcome your emotional deprivation. The path to healthy and stable emotions will take time and efforts, but it is attainable. When you triumph over the deprivation, the healthy and balanced emotions will lead you to many more meaningful connections and ultimately a more fulfilling life.


Photo by rivage on Unsplash





About Faye Weng

Your Online Life and Career Coach

Faye Weng is an expert life and career coach who works with clients to take back control of their lives by rediscovering their passions, living/working with a clear purpose, and becoming people who can positively impact the communities around them. As your life and career coach, Faye will help you minimize noises and distractions, focus your effort and attention on the right things, execute a clear plan of action, and celebrate alongside of you when each milestone is reached. Click here to book a complimentary session.