In order for someone to act like an individual as an adult, who has their own needs and feelings, they will have needed to have had a childhood that was at least somewhat nurturing. The reason for this is that they wouldn’t have felt like an individual when they were born; this was a sense that had to be developed.

Therefore, if someone doesn’t act like an individual, it is highly likely that they missed out on the nutrients that they needed to realise this at both a mental and emotional level. However, if someone is in this position, it doesn’t mean they will be consciously aware of it.

The Norm

Thanks to having a developmental period where they were seen as merely an extension of one if not both of their parents, this won’t be something that stands out. But, this doesn’t mean that they will typically be happy living in this way.

They could often feel angry, frustrated and very low but they could also have the tendency to avoid how they feel. So, more or less soon as they experience these feelings, they could soon be focusing on what is going on externally.

Outer Directed

Due to seeing themselves as an extension of others, they are likely to spend a lot of time thinking about and doing things for others. This could mean that they are often described as someone who is selfless and only too happy to help others.

It might not matter what they are doing or if they have the energy to be there for another or others as they could just take the next step. It could be as though other people have a remote and they only need to press a button to receive their attention.

A Tiring Existence

But, as they do so much for others and so little for themselves, they are likely to often feel tired and even exhausted. They will be out of balance, so it is to be expected that this would often be the case.

If they were to reach out for support, it could be because they are very low and perhaps depressed. This could then be a time when they will end up being put on medication, for instance.

Totally Unaware

This might allow them to feel better about living in a way that is harming them but it is unlikely to do much else. Due to how focused they are on what is going on externally and as they have such as weak connection with themselves, they are not going to be able to join the dots, so to speak.

To use an analogy, they will be like a fish that has been trained to live on land. Naturally, the fish will suffer but as it has lived in this way for so long, it simply won’t realise what the real problem is.

Self Alienation

During their developmental period, assuming it was one parent who was this way, they would have been forced to focus on their parent’s needs. They would then have been born with a connection to their needs, feelings and wants, so their true self, but they would have soon had to disconnect from it.

At this stage of their life, as they were powerless and totally dependent, their greatest need was to survive, so as they could only survive by being there for this parent, this is what they would have done. Along with losing touch with themselves, they would have automatically created a disconnected, false self.

The Other Side

This parent, probably as a result of being deeply wounded themselves, wouldn’t have been able to accept that they were a separate being who had their own needs, feelings and wants. They would then have been seen as an object that was there to meet their needs.

In the beginning, their child is likely to have resisted what took place but as time went by, they are likely to have simply accepted what was going on. Not doing so would have been seen as a threat to their survival.

The Alternative

If they had resisted what was going on and tried to express themselves, they would have probably been rejected and abandoned and even physically harmed. At the same time, this may well have been something that did take place throughout this stage of their life.

In this case, doing what this parent wanted wouldn’t have allowed them to have a harmonious existence. What this all illustrates is not only how emotionally barren this stage of their life was and how starved they were of the attunement and mirroring that they desperately needed but how unreliable and unpredictable this parent was.


Once they have started to become aware of how out of balance and estranged they are from themselves, they will be able to change their life. This is something that will take courage and patience and persistence.

This will be a time when they will gradually reconnect to their body, the seat of their true self, and work through the pain that they experienced all those years ago. Over time, as long as they keep going, they will reclaim their own individuality and the ability to live a life that is in alignment with their essence.


If someone can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.

Author's Bio: 

Author, transformational writer, teacher and consultant, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, self-worth, inner child and inner awareness. With over two thousand, eight hundred in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice.

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