Back in March 2011, I wrote a post titled You Can’t Blame Your Parents Forever.
I always knew I wanted to write a follow up to this post.
Hopefully you grew up in a supportive and loving environment as a child. I hope you received words of encouragement and support from your parents.
Unfortunately that is far from the case for a lot of people.
Just a side note here. If you suffered physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a parent, I would definitely suggest you see a counsellor who can help you. The same could be said for certain types of emotional abuse, which in some cases can be just as damaging. Please if you need help on either of these counts, seek out a professional.
Many people grew up hearing negative and hurtful words from their parents.
It’s little wonder these hurtful comments can stay with us well into adulthood. We often carry feelings of inadequacy throughout our lives (and might I add into our own adult relationships which can cause profound damage).
You may hear people talking about how they struggle with certain issues because of the words and actions of their parents. They may not pursue a certain career because a parent convinced them they would never be any good at it (or good at anything for that matter).
They may not take risks if they were led to believe they will fail at everything they try. They may choose bad relationships because they believe they are not worthy of love or deserve to be in a caring partnership. They might choose drugs and alcohol to fill the void of not feeling good enough.
As an adult, these long-held insecurities, fears and doubts can hold us back from our true potential. They can cripple our lives if we allow them to.
I have a shocking truth for you though, something that a lot of adults need to hear.
Your parents were wrong.
Those awful things your parents said about you were downright wrong.
One of the great things about adulthood is that we get to make our own decisions. We get to choose what we believe.
As an adult, you have the ability to question, refute and discard your parents words and actions.
Try to be as objective and logical about this as possible. Think about the words that affect you. Would you believe such a hurtful statement if it was coming from someone else? Imagine it was coming from someone you didn’t have such a bond with? Would you question it more if that were the case?
Imagine the comment was coming from a complete stranger – you would probably shrug it off and not let it bother you.
Here’s just one small example of how this can work. In a work meeting a couple of years ago, the CEO stated that he was extremely disappointed with the work done by our team. For a moment, I felt shattered. I wanted to climb under the boardroom table and hide.
I heard the word ‘disappointed’ more than I would have liked growing up. The guilt and shame associated with that particular word came flooding back. For a moment, I was close to tears. Then I got myself together. I thought things through logically. My work on the project was of a high standard. I did what was required (and then some). I personally had nothing to be ashamed off. I let the comment go.
A personal turning point for me was my parent’s divorce (I was in my late twenties at the time). With the divorce, I saw another side to my parents. Their behavior wasn’t pretty and that’s putting it politely!
As much as I still loved them both, their behavior certainly had me questioning why I was holding on to some of the harmful exchanges from the past. To be fair, I know I said some hurtful things to my parents growing up too, that’s another part of maturing, you realize exchanges can be a two-way street.
Their divorce illustrated how some of the things they had said in the past were based on their unhappy relationship with each other, not with me. It made me realize that some of the hurt and guilt I had hung onto for years, had nothing to do with me. Understanding this allowed me to finally release many of the negative feelings and emotions I’d been struggling with.
As a result I learned to stand up for myself more. Standing up for myself meant letting my parents know that certain behavior was not acceptable, something I hadn’t done in the past.
The next time you hear yourself thinking or saying, Dad said I wasn’t good enough. Mum said such and such. Stop yourself.
You have the power to say – They were wrong and I won’t allow their negative words to have a hold over me any longer.
Choose to move beyond the negative comments from your childhood, get out there and make your own way.
Make yourself proud. If your parents are proud of you, well that’s a fabulous bonus but it all starts with being proud of yourself.
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