Sometimes it is difficult to recognize where your negative thinking, insecurity or even depression comes from. We often look for the answer to why we are insecure in the things that happen from the outside, such as a mean boss at work, mean classmates or heartbreak. While these are certainly factors for why you may feel insecure or sad, insecurity and low self-esteem often develop from childhood. Your (immediate) family has a major influence on your self-esteem, perception of others and trust in others. In fact, your family’s upbringing and influences are the basis for how you see the people, places, and things around you. You can actually say that they influence your worldview.

But what if your upbringing lead to that your world view is negative? And how do you recognize whether your upbringing is the reason for your insecurity? Influences of your upbringing on your self-esteem are the most difficult to recognize. You often see your upbringing as “normal” because it is what you grew up with.

To know if your upbringing has directly influenced your self-esteem, I have prepared some questions for you to think about:

Direct signs:

  • Do you feel like you will never live up to your parents’ expectations
  • Are you living the live that you REALLY want or the live that your parents invisioned for you?
  • Do you often feel physically sick or overwhelmed after visiting your parents?

In social situations:

  • Do you often have troubles saying ‘No’ to others?
  • Do you feel anxious or unsure what about other might think of you?
  • Are you afraid of making mistakes or seizing new opportunities?
  • Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others (or even feel inferior to others?) 
  • Are you a people-pleaser?

It is possible that the uncertainty is due to the impact of your immediate family. When people discuss toxic relationships with parents, they usually describe parents behaving in a way that causes shame, guilt, anxiety, or obligations in their children. Their actions are not isolated events but patterns of behavior that negatively affect their child’s life and they can be very subtle. For instance;

Verbal abuse: Abuse is not always name calling, sometimes it is blaming. Like, “If you were more like your brother, things wouldn’t have gone so badly for you.” ”Why can’t you just be more like your sister, at least she can get good grades.” Or The silent treatment. Nice and quiet you would think? For a child to be ignored is enormously drastic. It can make the child feel unimportant.

Controlling Behavior: Parents may invade the child’s privacy or not allow the child to make decisions on their own. More often they are overly critical and control your decisions even when you are an adult.

For example, obsessively checking the child’s online conversations. Determine what sport or study the child should do. Or the child announces his sexuality and is kicked out of the house. Sometimes the parents reject it completely and thus show no support by saying something like ‘you’re not gay, it’s just a phase, you’ll get over it’. Imagine how lonely that must feel.

Lack of boundaries: Much of this behavior is considered normal because you get used to your upbringing, but it still negatively affects you.

As an adult, you can still be influenced or overwhelmed by your parents. You might find it harder to make decisions for yourself or even really know who you are. Logical, because in the years that you should develop yourself, you have been following the wishes of your parents. Hoping you get their approval. You notice that your parents often hurt you, but you make excuses for their behavior by saying so. “That was rude, but that’s just how mom/dad is.”

This is quite a confrontational subject, because of course you want to think the best of your parents. But if you have tried to choose for yourself several times, but do not dare to continue because of the comments of your parents. If you feel that there are no healthy boundaries between you and your parents. And if you often find yourself people-pleasing purely for their happiness and not yours. Then this is a direct signal that you should start choosing what’s best for you.

This is difficult, because this is usually not based on peace. You’ve already spoiled your parents by doing everything for them and being there when they want it. Yet I want to let you know that it is possible to reclaim your own life.

Do you want to learn to say ‘No’ and stand up for yourself? Do you want to start real life and do what you want? Do you need help with this? Feel free to contact me.

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