There are three distinctive experiences in the vulnerable child mode, namely the abandoned child, the lonely child, or the dependent child mode. Vulnerable child modes go along with all types of sad or anxious emotions that are often associated with the following feelings and fears.
Abandonment: You may have a sense of being abandoned or a fear that you will soon be abandoned. You have possibly experienced some form of desertion in childhood that make you continue to fear the same, even when in the company of family and friends. It can be a parent who left the family, someone close to you who died, or a succession of circumstances that made you feel rejected.
Social isolation: You may feel a lack of belonging to others and cut off from the world. You possibly feel excluded from your groups and circles—their activities and trust. Seemingly unimportant social signals may trigger this feeling, such as the order of seating at a dinner party.
Mistrust and abuse: You often feel threatened by and suspicious of other people and their intentions. You are constantly on the lookout for signs of threat, trying to avoid the harm that you believe is impending. This may have stemmed from being abused or bullied as a child.
Defectiveness and shame: You may feel deficient, bad, inferior, or unwanted. That you are not worth the love, attention, and respect of others. Inherently you are ashamed of who you are. This is often the result of being devalued or humiliated as a child.
Emotional deprivation: Although you may okay, deep down you consistently feel unsatisfied. That life is just all right instead of really feeling loved, cared for, and in a happy place. You may lack security, closeness, and attachment. You may not have constant emotional distress, but you tend to feel empty, and that you don’t matter much to others.
Dependency or incompetence: You feel that you are not good enough to do something by yourself, to be independent. Therefore you attach to and depend on others for important decisions, impetus, and direction. Maybe you haven’t been allowed or encouraged to be independent and make your own decisions as a child. Now you often relegate your preferences and interests to those of others, seeing them as responsible for your life.
In the next topic, we explain the subtypes and beliefs of the vulnerable child.