6 Ways To Tell When You’re In Emotional Childhood

And How To Get Out Of It

Emotional Childhood

Have you ever felt like you just wanted to stomp your feet and yell, “It’s not fair!”? Or do you ever find yourself blaming someone else for what’s wrong in your life? 

Of course you have! We all have done this. If those moments are few and far between, then there is usually no problem. However when we find ourselves in this state often, it is not useful. 

Anytime you are not taking full responsibility for your life, you are in emotional childhood. 

This is a state where we become a victim in our lives. We may feel other people (our husband, the doctor, or boss) are the reason we’re in such a bad mood. Or, we may be blaming the results in our life on circumstances outside of us such as cancer, life, or the government. When we are in emotional childhood, we are easily set off by other people or events. Or we may start to try to control others and get them to behave in a certain way. We often act just like a child would by throwing a fit or numbing out with our favorite foods. 

Staying in emotional childhood too long is disempowering.

6 Ways To Tell When You Are Being An Emotional Child

Here are the top 6 ways to tell when you are in emotional childhood, so you can recognize it and move on toward emotional adulthood.

1. Blaming

One of the most common signs that you are not taking responsibility for your own situation is when you are blaming others or circumstances for your thoughts, feelings, actions, or results.

It’s because of this damn pandemic that I’m overweight. 

2. Expecting others to meet your needs

Do you feel like your spouse should make you happy? Do you feel others around you need to meet your needs? The key distinction here is feeling like it’s a need or right. It’s OK to ask things of other people, but when you need them to behave a certain way in order for you to feel better, then it is a sign of emotional childhood.

I need you to take care of my needs. 

3. Trying to control others

Do you lose your temper easily when others aren’t doing what you think they should? Do you yell, manipulate, or throw a fit? When we feel out of control inside, our automatic reaction is to try to control others around us. That is emotional childhood because we’re trying to get others to change so we feel better. 

It’s your fault. 

4. Thinking something isn’t fair or right

Whenever you are feeling like the world has wronged you (personally), or if you feel like something that happened to you just isn’t fair, then you are in emotional childhood. This is different from feeling like there are injustices and inequities in the world. Emotional childhood is when it’s personal to you. Like you alone have been singled out or slighted. 

Why does this always happen to me! 

5. Numbing out to avoid emotions

Do you turn to TV, your phone, alcohol or food whenever you feel bad? This is probably one of the most common ways most of us avoid taking responsibility and actually feeling our negative emotions. 

Netflix marathon here we come!!!

6. Thinking you have no choice

Do you feel shut into a corner? Or you had to make a certain decision because you really had no choice? It’s tempting to want to blame our actions on the outside world, but by doing this we don’t take ownership of actions. We always have a choice, even if we don’t like the options. 

I really had no choice but to…

There is nothing inherently wrong with being in emotional childhood. Most of us have these feelings at times. The important part to recognize is when you get stuck there. 

How To Move Toward Emotional Adulthood

Step 1 – Own it

The first thing you need to do when you find yourself in this state is own it. We are 100% responsible for our thoughts, feelings, actions and the results in our lives. As tempting as it may be to want to put this responsibility on others or the circumstances in our lives, it’s just not true. How can we know? Confronted with the same crisis, two people will think and respond differently to it. Taking ownership of what you think and feel and how your life is going is the first step toward moving toward emotional adulthood.

Step 2- Allow it

Once you’ve recognized your responsibility for how you are feeling, or how your life turned out, have compassion for yourself. Many of us will have a tendency to turn that inward and blame or scold ourselves. This is not helpful. Remember, no matter how you are feeling, it doesn’t mean anything about you. Compassion will let you accept where you are, and start you on the path of moving forward. 

Step 3 – Process it 

You need to process the negative emotion you are feeling, the resentment, the blame… whatever it is. Let it be in your body and feel it. When you own it, it will allow you to let go of it. Then you can move toward emotional adulthood.

It may seem daunting to take 100% responsibility for everything in your life. In reality, it’s freeing. It’s empowering! To know you have the ability to control your own path, to choose who you want to be. There is great freedom in that. And once you do, you can move forward.


If you found this helpful and want to learn more, then sign up for a free coaching session with me.

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One thought on “6 Ways To Tell When You’re In Emotional Childhood

  1. Was great to see emotional maturity so well defined. Now,I see how I have too often so derailed! Thank you!

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