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It is not uncommon for adults to have issues with low self-worth due to communications in childhood; usually from adults, but sometimes by other children.
These negative comments, criticisms, rejections are what we call negations. The interesting thing about these hurtful statements is that it is the future adult that takes them in, not the child. Yes, the child holds onto these hurtful words, but they become the limitations of the later adult, not the child that hears them.
It might seem crazy for grown people to still believe the words of someone who was themselves, flawed, abusive, lacking self-esteem, unable to control their temper, a failure, a bad parent/ partner, or a person who certainly would never be the world's biggest expert on what was right, moral or good.
And yet, because a child thinks that it is not acceptable to aim their pain back at the person who launched the words (Eg; a parent), they hold it in and aim it squarely at themselves. Afterall, it is not appropriate (and impossible before the age of about 7) for a child to think that their parent is anything but perfect, righteous and experienced in life. The fault must lie with the child not being good enough, worthy of love, kindness, interest, time, support, validation etc.
Children are of course innocent and rarely hardened by the world. They are sensitive and vulnerable - as they should be.
So the child, now an adult, is mature enough to know that all adults have a lot going on and their parents were probably no different. They were just as human as anyone else. They understand that it was not an issue of deserving (or not deserving) the unkindness shown, it was just that the person delt with whatever was going on in the only way they knew how. They were coping with the fall-out of their own childhood, their own failures, their own internal baggage, their parent's values / morals and their own stress and pressures.
An adult knows that deep down. But somehow they can't get past it or know how to let it go. Of course, there is no internal peace in holding onto grievances. There is only suffering. And often the people who caused the suffering are gone, don't want to acknowledge it, or have forgotten. The only person who suffers is the one remembering and keeping the belief fresh. The belief is often something like: 'I wasn't good enough.' 'They couldn't love me.' 'I was different and different isn't good.' 'If I was better maybe they could have loved me.' "I wasn't smart enough, pretty enough, likeable enough...' 'I wasn't worth a new bike.'
If only the child could really know that it was never a reflection of their worth, but on the capacity for the parent/ person to extend their love under stress. Often the amazing skills a child had were never validated by the parent, so the adult child does not even notice or promote their own talents. Many a high achiever is trying to get validation that never comes...
Consequently, when a person is lacking in good parenting, they have to learn to re-parent themselves. To think about another child at the same age and to consider with compassion how a child of that age should be treated. And so treat themselves accordingly.
You know it is normal and natural after the age of 30 not to consider the opinions of parents anymore than you would consider the opinions of their friends and peers. If you do care too much, you are still in child-mode. No doubt from some guilt and trauma bonding. You cannot self-actualise if you care too much about the opnions of your family of origin. This is the time to be making a family of your own.
A good question to ask yourself is this: Is the person who said the comment worthy of being the world's biggest expert on the subject? Even if they thought they were at the time.
Second question: If they are not, then why accept the criticism as if they were? (Time for them to come down from their pedestal.)
Third question: Are you willing to re-parent yourself: Eg: Father yourself (Make safe, protect, provide for) or Mother yourself: (Nurture, love, care for) from now on? Are you willing to take the best role models and create a perfect-parent instead of the one you got? One that you can use as your new benchmark? (Even if it is in your imagination!)
I hope so. Otherwise, see me for Counselling, NLP or Time Line Therapy.
Founder of Ghita Therapy - Ghita Andersen (B.Soc.Sci: Psych & Coun; Grad Cert FDR, Hypnosis Cert.) is a professionally trained Psychotherapist, Couples Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and a Federally Accredited Family Dispute Mediator (FDRP).