As a child it is expected that we will make mistakes and our parents are going to correct us and guide us on our way. As a teen, we become more independent but still need guidance from parents and help in making good choices (whether we admitted to it or not!). I believe most parents genuinely care and love their children, wanting the best for them. However, some parents’ love gets sidelined by drug or alcohol abuse. They are not able to guide their children in making healthy choices.
Other parents may see their child going down a wrong path such and criticize every move of their adult child. These harsh words are often coming from a place of wanting to “help” their child make the right choice but come across as hurtful and at times abusive to the person receiving this criticism. The criticism leaves an emotional mark and many people internalize the criticism to be “truth” because they came from their parent. They believe “I must be a bad person because my Mom said I was” or “I am stupid because my Dad always said I made stupid decisions.” These negative perceptions and beliefs often lead to feelings of depression. The criticism deflates self-esteem and confidence. It can be difficult to overcome since much of the criticism is so many years deep that is saturated with a combination of hurt, pain, anger and sadness.
How can an adult overcome years of hurtful words and criticism? For starters, by reminding yourself of all the accomplishments in their life can be a good start. It can help to ask yourself, What have you done that is opposite of what the criticism said about you or your character? If your Dad called you “stupid” but you were able to obtain a Master’s degree this is something to remind yourself of. It can help to write down a list of your good traits and look at it periodically. It can also be helpful to build your confidence by engaging in activities where you can help other people. Seeing the positive result of making that impact can really build you up.
Last but not least, it is important to go into your rational brain and challenge those criticisms from the past. “Because I was told I never did anything right, is this really true? What is the evidence for this? What have I done right with my life? “ The more you can dispute and properly find evidence against these criticisms, the more you can convert the negative messages you received growing up into realistic, positive ones. It is an ongoing process to defeat the negative messages from the past, but you can do it!
If you or someone you know is struggling to let go of the past, know that help is available. Call today for a free consultation! There is no obligation and it helps to talk to a trusted professional. Call 919-618-6526 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.