"I Have Everything But I'm Still Unhappy" Feelings of Guilt From Childhood

"I have everything, but I'm not happy and nothing satisfies me." This feeling often originates in childhood. Furthermore, if it's not dealt with properly, it hinders development.
"I Have Everything But I'm Still Unhappy" Feelings of Guilt From Childhood

Written by Raquel Aldana

Last update: 30 September, 2022

You have everything, but you feel miserable. Why can’t you be happy? Where does your dissatisfaction come from? What’s the origin of your sadness? You have many people close by, so why do you feel so lonely? What’s preventing you from cauterizing your fears?

If you feel like this, you may well have sought therapy because you can’t get rid of your feelings of guilt, loneliness, and dissatisfaction. What you don’t usually realize is that, as a rule, these feelings originate in your childhood.

This is confusing for you, especially if you have loved ones and people close by and a job, family, and security. However, these feelings are far more common than you might think. Let’s see what lies behind them.

Social acceptance, ‘being liked’, has so much power because it holds the feelings of loneliness at bay.”

-Rollo May-

Worried woman thinking
We carry feelings of guilt from childhood.

What lies behind this feeling of guilt?

If you feel this kind of guilt, you probably have a worthwhile life and are competent in every way. The problem is that you feel like you have everything but, at the same time, you carry a kind of suffering around with you that you can’t understand or conceptualize.

Furthermore, you find it difficult to even recognize yourself in your suffering. “I don’t want for anything so why do I feel this discomfort?” you ask yourself. This could be because, in your childhood or adolescence, you had your physical needs covered, but not your emotional ones.

This meant you faced unemotional discourses with your main attachment figures (usually your parents). For example, when you needed emotional attention or closeness, you received responses like “I’m working all day so that you don’t want for anything, stop being so selfish”.

The developers of attachment theory (Ainsworth, 1969; Bowlby, 1990), claimed that, as children, we end up mimicking our parents’ attachment or bonding styles. Therefore, we learn by vicarious or imitative learning what we must look at or give importance to. In fact, we integrate what we observe or what our environment instills in us.

Therefore, in childhood, you learned to disconnect from your emotional needs. Consequently, you now seek psychological well-being through material means, toxic productivity, or anything that gratifies you socially in some way.

Woman in therapy, depicitng when you feel like you have everything but are still unhappy
These people usually go to psychological consultation as they find it difficult to bond, identify, and express their feelings and needs or to escape from anger or resentment.

Feeling like you have everything, but…

You feel like you have it all, but what does it mean to have it all? That’s the first part you must check. As a matter of fact, you tend to tell yourself that you have everything to try and reduce the intensity of your pain. However, nature is wise and it doesn’t generate feelings out of nowhere or for no reason. When discomfort reigns in your life, you need to work on it and resolve what’s making you anxious or upsetting you.

Emotional loneliness must be addressed. Clarifying these feelings will allow you to understand and reorient your life toward the values you desire. To do this, you must open your mind and understand that an excessive dedication to work or the need to achieve goals can’t complete you.

If you look back, you can work out whether your family or social history valued academic or job success above all else. If it was shaped in this way, it probably reduced attention to the complex need for you to be valued for something other than your achievements or your dedication to others.

Sometimes, to create or regain a healthy lifestyle pattern, you need to turn to mental health professionals who can guide you. Indeed, identifying your need to be supported when you go down unfriendly paths is essential. Above all, don’t forget that your relationship with others begins with a healthy relationship with yourself.

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  • Ainsworth, M.D. (1969). Object relations, dependency, and attachment: a theoretical review of the infant-mother relationship. Child Development, 40, 969-1025.
  • Bowlby, J. (1990). El vínculo afectivo (2ª ed.). Buenos Aires: Paidós.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.