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Why You May Have Unclaimed Charisma: Childhood Emotional Neglect

Charisma: Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others

What makes a person charismatic? Is it a form of narcissism? No. Do you have to be born with it? Most people would say that you either have it or you don’t, but it’s not true.

I believe the truth is something far more complicated. Charisma is a special collection of personal traits that many people have. One quality that true charisma requires is being in touch with your feelings.

I see many people who grew up with their emotions ignored (Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN) have many of the right qualities. But CEN people have learned how to hide their feelings. More comfortable outside the limelight, they have learned to tamp down their own light and hide.

If you grew up with CEN, with your emotions ignored or discouraged, you may have a charisma that you have not yet claimed. This is very important since an essential part of charisma is that you have to own it

As you read the list below, think about yourself and which of these qualities you may already have, which you are hiding, and which you can nurture in yourself.

The 8 Basic Qualities of Charisma

  • Integrity and authenticity – This involves being the real you and feeling good about it. When you know yourself, it allows others to know you too. When you’re knowable and visible to others (clearly not hiding anything), people know they can count on you because of who you are. People feel connected to you almost automatically. They are attracted to you.
  • Understanding and responding to emotion – When it comes to interpersonal relationships, emotion is power. When you own your own feelings and work with them, you are immediately empowered. When you recognize what others are feeling and respond to them; by validating, understanding, caring, or challenging, you naturally draw in the people around you.
  • Positive energy – Your energy is infectious. It spreads to others and stimulates and energizes them.
  • Enthusiasm – Enthusiasm gives you and others more energy. It motivates and empowers people. People are naturally drawn to those who are enthusiastic.
  • Fallibility and accountability – Social science research has shown that a speaker or leader who makes a mistake, like tripping over a power cord, for example, is immediately more liked by the audience. Everyone likes their leaders to be fallible. Owning your mistakes and showing that you’re OK with your own humanness is lovable and connecting. Trying to look like you know everything, or never make mistakes, is not.
  • Smile – Smiles hold great power, but only when they’re real; and only when they fit the situation. If you’re always smiling, people won’t connect to you, and if you never smile, people won’t like you. So smile when you feel it, and your smiles will empower you.
  • Being present in the moment – Attention is power. People can feel it when they, or an experience they are sharing with you, have your undivided attention. It’s an unspoken message to them that they matter. Everyone is drawn to this message. People can also sense divided attention, and it makes them feel less important and less connected.
  • Confidence – You can have all of the qualities above, but they will remain hidden unless you own them and project them with confidence. This is the final essential quality of the truly charismatic.

4 Best Quotes About Charisma

  1. How can you have charisma? Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are about making them feel good about you — Dan Reiland
  2. Charisma is the fancy name given to the knack of giving people your full attention. — Robert Brault
  3. The essential element in personal magnetism is a consuming sincerity–an overwhelming faith in the importance of the work that one has to do. — Bruce Barton
  4. Charisma is the transference of enthusiasm. — Ralph Archbold

The world is full of wonderful people who listen, care, and give. People who smile, own their mistakes and quietly inspire others. People with bright lights shining within them, but who lack the confidence to allow others to see it.

If some little voice within you is saying, “This might be me,” I ask you to listen to the voice and believe in yourself.

Claim your qualities and build them, trust yourself, and stop hiding your light.

Because the world needs more people like you. We need your light.

To learn how to understand and work with emotions, and get to know the real you, see the book, Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.

This post was initially published on psychcentral.com. It has been updated and reproduced here with the permission of Psych Central and the author.