How to Take Control of Your Fatal Flaw

I recently communicated with Dr. Jonice Webb, the author of Running On Empty. I was inspired by her book, asked if I could share one of her article abouts Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). She generously offered to share this article about "the fatal flaw," one of the psychological effects of CEN. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and visit Dr. Webb's website if you'd like to know more.

By: Jonice Webb, PhD

The Fatal Flaw:

A deep-seated feeling that something is wrong with you. You are missing something that other people have. You are living life on the outside, looking in. You don’t quite fit in anywhere.

CEN can cause anxiety and stress

If you grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), chances are, The Fatal Flaw is at work in your life. If you pushed your feelings away as a child, you now lack access to them as an adult. You sense deep down that something is missing (it’s your emotions).  And your life lacks the richness, connection and meaning that your emotions should be bringing to you. This is the basic cause of the Fatal Flaw. Most people who have it are not aware of it, and this gives it incredible power.

Seven Effects of the Fatal Flaw:

  • You are not in touch with your gut feelings, so you don’t trust your gut (even though in the majority of CEN folks, it’s most often right).
  • It undermines your confidence to take risks.
  • It makes you uncomfortable in social situations.
  • It keeps many of your relationships at a surface level.
  • It makes you question the meaning and purpose of your life.
  • It makes you fear that if people get to know you well, they won’t like what they see.
  • Therefore you are quite fearful of rejection.

These seven effects will gradually wear away your contentment and your connection to life and happiness. So it is vital that you take control of your Fatal Flaw.

Six Steps to Break Down Your Fatal Flaw

  1. Recognize your Fatal Flaw: This will take away its power.
  2. Know that your Fatal Flaw is not a real flaw. It’s only a feeling.
  3. A feeling can be managed, so start to manage it. Pay attention to when you feel it, and how it affects you.
  4. Put it into words and tell someone about it.
  5. Override it every time that you possibly can. Do the opposite of everything your Fatal Flaw tells you to do.
  6. Start breaking down the wall between you and your feelings. Welcome them as the vital source of information, guidance, and richness that they are (even the painful ones).

Yes, your Fatal Flaw is powerful. But so are you. You have a great deal of personal power that is being drained by your Fatal Flaw.

So today’s the day. Declare war upon your Fatal Flaw, and start using your weapons of awareness, your emotions, your intellect and your words.

This is a battle that you can win. I promise.

To learn more about the Fatal Flaw, what causes it and how to overcome it, visit and see the book Running on Empty. (link to:

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LCPC, is an Annapolis therapist helping people manage their stress and anxiety. Progression Counseling, offices in Arnold and Annapolis. 410-340-8469