4 Subtle Signs You Grew Up In A Household That Didn't Express Emotions (And It's Affecting You Now)

Recognizing patterns is the first step to making positive change.

man and woman facing away from each other sitting on a bed Alex Green / Pexels 

A psychotherapist named Stephanie utilizes her TikTok platform as a place for people to learn more about their attachment styles. In her bio, she offers the caveat that “TikTok is not therapy,” yet her posts offer an entry point for people to educate themselves on the ways they interact with others.

In one particular post, she poses the question, “How did your family communicate?” She shows that the ways we learn to communicate as children affect how we interact in our adult relationships.


The post reveals the different signs you grew up in a household that didn't openly express emotions that often don't emerge until adulthood.

In the text overlaid on her TikTok post, Stephanie explains, “If we grew up with parents who didn’t openly express their feelings and used silence as a way to cope with conflict, we might use silence as a way to communicate that we are upset, relying on the coping skill we know best.”



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1. Withholding or withdrawing affection

This could play out as removing oneself from conflict, either by withdrawing physically or emotionally. Some people tend to shut down when faced with difficult emotions, because they didn’t learn that it’s okay to feel big emotions, and their only coping mechanism for hard feelings is to shut down or shut off. 

2. Rage cleaning when we feel unappreciated

In moments of conflict, some people want to feel a semblance of control over their environment. Instead of pouring their emotions into a difficult conversation, one that looks at the roots of why they’re feeling a certain way, they will empty their energy into cleaning, as a way to channel their anger into something deemed “productive.”

women cleaning a bedroomPhoto: Monstera Production / Pexels


While the dishes may get cleaned, this is an avoidant strategy, a way to work around having to talk about what’s really bothering you. 

RELATED: 8 Low-Key Signs Someone Had A Rough Childhood

3. Passive-aggressive body language 

Expressing our emotions is never easy, especially when those emotions feel bigger than us, like anger, disappointment, or hurt. It often seems easier to show how we feel than to say it out loud, which leads to passive-aggressive body language.

two women avoiding each otherPhoto: Liza Summer / Pexels 


This is another example of avoidant behavior. Instead of speaking our emotions, we’re holding them in our bodies and hoping someone else will notice.

4. Not accepting help or support, making a point to do things for yourself.

Not knowing how to express our emotions can lead us to isolate ourselves, when really what we need is to turn to those we love and ask for support. It takes practice to realize our own feelings, and then even more practice to ask for help when we need it.

young girl being yelled at Photo : Monstera Production / Pexels


Stephanie’s post resonated deeply with many of her followers. Many people in the comments expressed how they recognized their own patterns of behavior and wondered how to change. 

Stephanie made a note in the comments section, touching on how not talking about our feelings openly can lead to negative patterning. She said, “Many of us were sent to our rooms to deal with big emotions that we didn’t understand. So now we isolate and hide when we feel we are too much.”

She also mentioned the necessity of honoring and listening to our inner child as a path toward healing the wounds we carry from our childhood into our adult relationships. She stated, “We can stop telling her to stay quiet, stop forcing her to hide. We can feel and express it.”


There’s inherent value in voicing how we feel; doing so allows difficult feelings to exit our bodies, and we feel lighter as a result. No healing process is instantaneous, yet the power of Stephanie’s list shows that recognizing the ways we act is the first step toward making positive change.

RELATED: 12 Things A Childhood Trauma Therapist Is 'Begging Parents To Stop Doing'

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers mental health, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.