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26 Comments to
5 Beliefs People with Adverse Upbringing Have about Themselves

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  1. More than to know all of this – which is important – I would like to know how to turn it around. Otherwise this is like going to the dr. and come out of there with a diagnosis but nothing to help get better. How do we heal?

    • Ummm….yeah….I identify with quite a few of these symptoms/scenarios…..so what do I do now?

    • A. Coelho,

      I joined ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) a while back and it is helping me. Not sure what your childhood was like but it did not have to include an alcoholic parent to join. They welcome anyone that has had a dysfunctional childhood.

      I was a bit skeptical joining at first because I thought it would a bit too religous for me. (I am spirtual, but not overly religious). But I found that it is not that way.

      I have a long ways to go in ACA. My sibling and I were horribly abused and neglected. It took me 55 years to talk about it.

      Take care my friend….

    • I agree with this statement 100%. How can you turn this around? I know this to be true, and I understand it but how do I recognize behavior before I react to it?

    • As someone who suffers from a lot of these symptoms, I would recommend staying busy. Take classes, meet a friend for coffee, and make plans for the future. There is something about feeling like you are in a rut that brings on a lot of these feelings. I would encourage you to stay active. Join a gym and take a class you would never think to take. Read a new book. And surround yourself with others who love and support you. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. It could just be a great friend that you can call every few days to discuss life’s bigger questions. Live. Fully.

      • Laura M,

        Totally agree, all great advice and I do all of those things and it really helps. However, I have found that I needed to get to root cause of why I feel worthless and phony. I would stay very active and do everything to enjoy life but at the end of the day, I felt worthless. That is when I started seeing a great therapist about 2 years ago and then started ACA meetings.

        What I found is I was in complete denial about my dysfunctional childhood and the affects it has had on me in my adult life. I also learned I was not alone in these struggles. It has been difficult but yet rewarding to change my attitude about myself. I think it will be a life long process.

        Keith

  2. I second what the first commentator said. How about giving some strategies for overcoming, healing, getting rid of these beliefs which cause so much suffering.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. It really helped me realise something about myself.

  4. I come from the 1950’s..the oldest child of 4 females..come from a time of white gloves and dinner every night and family. and then the drinking started and screaming and to much.. vowed to raise my children different.. married for 12 years oldest became very ill. of course it was my fault.. Divorced and trying hard in the 1980’s to care for 3 kids and one ill.. we held each other tight.. they have great jobs … little to no drinking..they all own a home and travel.. they have cared for me for a house until Iam no more.. how can we change the past you can’t … if you are young stay away from drugs and drinking.. love your families hold them tight.. laugh play and sit at night and watch the stars with your childern and the one you love.. prayers for a better tomorrow…

  5. I echo what everyone else has suggested, doing a follow up regarding how to overcome it.
    This article is applicable to those who’ve been raised in a high control religion like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not only is their household highly controlling, but even if they step out of their house and into their community they face the same scrutiny and struggles from trusted people in their religion who’ve become their extended family. For instance the Jehovah’s Witnesses are so insular that they don’t know this controlling behavior is damaging and toxic. They will for their entire lives believe that they are worthless and/ or not doing enough to be a good JW. They are also told that if they leave their religion they will not survive or become wicked people.

  6. Thank you. This article is very accurate. This is/was my life for so long.

    • Well, I really agree about true and accurate article, however, I honestly have courage with strenght to disarm the toxic relationships of my mother and my older brother who now is a family physician as they’re narcissists as I peramentally have separated from them. There is a long story of my life in a fact. And then I have more freedom in the new life in the Outside World after my graduation from Gallaudet University with my Class of 1981 as I finally overcome the hurdles as I build up the new healthy life for years in milestone. Fortunelty I have been supported by my therapists and other professionals in these best teams in recognization at best in happy, productive, and healthy ways in positive chances. I have a good courage to take a good professional help at best in humanity. For years, I have been much experienced in the positive ways of life in milestone as my best teams are very, supportive to me in better and healthy environment. Christa

  7. I developed a little different twist. After making her angry and being punished, (usually spanked with a board) what followed was the silent treatment for 2 or 3 days. Not just by my mother but by everyone in the family. The rest of them couldn’t risk her ire by acknowledging my existence. After a few days, I would be recognized again when she told me to “go cut the lawn”, “go rake the yard”, “go shovel the sidewalk”. The lesson was I only existed for my ability to do work and my skill set. Not good enough for love or connection, but allowed to exist (have food, clothing and shelter) as long as I could contribute something valuable without ever asking for anything in return. I’ve lived this way for 60 years. It’s safe and familiar. You don’t get lonely if you’ve learned not to have expectations of connection from the time you were an infant. I didn’t understand any of this about my avoidant attachment style until just the last couple of years. I sense I have found some relief in having made sense of how I ended up with my schemas and coping skills these last few years. Thriving? No.
    I learned early on the best I could expect was survival.

    • My heart is crying for you. My upbringing was very similar to yours. You matter and you were born perfectly you. Don’t allow this tyrany any longer. Escape to music, art, dance, whatever, have a passion and live it.

      • Thank you for the response Sue. I’ve seen 3 different therapists over the years and without exception I felt like nothing more than a goose laying a $150 an hour “golden egg” once or twice a week. There was no incentive for them to help me change. I think first and foremost, forty-five years of lifting weights and serious cardio workouts have saved my life. It wasn’t a plan, but the long term benefit of rigorous workouts 5 or 6 days per week, have been a huge stress reducer and haven. The internet didn’t exist until I was well into my 40’s, so researching online and trying to make sense of my story on my own these last few years, has helped me understand how those neural “super-highways” in my brain were formed and why it’s so difficult to get my mind to use new connections. It’s a struggle to avoid those behaviors and thought processes that have kept me stuck all these years. This is where the mindfulness meditation has helped me as well. Like many avoidants, the world to me is physical. When you learn as a kid that your emotions don’t matter, the neural connections that deal with feeling and connection get dropped because they go unused. In a in a securely attached child, who was unconditionally loved and supported, those connections get strengthened. For me the world is about mechanics, computers, electronics, and the most amazing machine of all the human body. My refuge is trying to understand the details of how everything physical works. It is not about connection with other people. When I listen to Dr. Dan Siegel’s “Wheel of Awareness” practice and get to the section on connection to other people and the world, I struggle to keep from just shutting the tape off (and don’t always win that fight). I can’t relate to it. I know a lot of people but they are all shallow, peripheral relationships. Never married, never dated, and my perception is that I am seen by the people who know me as the helpful but aloof, consummate loner. I don’t know how to be any different.

      • Have you researched Asperger’s Syndrome. I truly believe spectrum diseases result from upbringing, especially dysfunction, neglect, abuse or just not getting the proper upbringing, social skills, development etc. when a child. I say this because that is definitely what happened with me. I have struggled all my life and have no close friends only aquaintances, not by choice, it just turned out that way. I am willing to put in the work for a close relationship but I cannot find anyone who has the time. Now we have computers we see more and more of these syndromes and more people are coming out with their stories of life. Almost everybody has something. We are not perfect individuals yet. I recommend a personal relationship with Christ. It can be hard but it does heal. Nothing else heals. Working out is great, and many other things but they only serve to replace what we really crave as a human being and that is love.

  8. Great article! I identify with #1 but especially all of #5. I am 76 years old female and have been retired for years, live alone with pets, was married once and divorced in 1973.

  9. After 50+ years of psychiatric practice, writing several books, appearing on Oprah etc. — I have at 79 changed my mind about how to emerge from self-doubt/self hatred that makes everything in the world about oneself.

    I strongly recommend looking seriously into learning about and practicing Buddhist psychology — most importantly living with kindness and compassion, not only for others but learning the extremely difficult process of deeply feeling compassion for the deep hurting inside oneself — its origins in painful lonely childhood experiences.

    An extremely gifted, kind, down-to-earth guide to this practical, non-religious practice and the ethics it is grounded in that can transform your feelings about yourself is a Buddhist psychology on-line teacher/mentor, Bodhipaksa, located in New Hampshire but with great courses on line and videos on iTunes and DVDs etc. Just Google him if you’re interested. BTW I am daily meditating and studying what I am recommending here myself.

  10. I identified with each of these descriptions. It’s always helpful to see symptoms put together coherently like that. Just knowing what and why it is that you think as you do is helpful in and of itself. I see a therapist and take antidepressants periodically. Always try to keep striving for new goals, but these thought patterns can be very detrimental to success. Another book for some here would be “Motherless Daughters” It changed my life for the same reasons. Thank you for the article!

  11. Having fought these feelings my whole life I finally decided I would no longer put up with being treated like I am worthless. I stopped communicating with my siblings and I told them why and what they had done wrong. They were absolutely baffled. They each thought I was the one at fault for not allowing them to say what they wanted to say to me. In typical fashion they told me I was being too sensitive. Attacking the injured party that was is the same as when I was young telling me I’m acting like a “baby”. I’m surprised they didn’t value a relationship with me more than that. It’s painful, but I’m sticking to my guns. Hopefully they’ll learn. If not, at least I’m standing up for myself.

    • It should say, “that way” not “that was”

  12. Nailed it. I’ve felt that way my entire 57 years. Working with a therapist has helped to identify these thought patterns and we have worked very hard to find coping strategies that work for me. Some of the time. It is a daily struggle.
    For the past 2 years, I have practiced meditation, and that has helped curb some of my reactivity. The combination of meditation and therapy, however, has done more to improve my state of mind than all my previous years of therapy combined.
    I wish for better and brighter days ahead for all of us suffering with this burden.

  13. #1, alcoholic father that left when I was 8 years old, siblings were 1 and 5. No support, occasional visits were so stressful;

    #2 & 3, the oldest child raised by a single mother holding down 2 jobs, who was raised in a dysfunctional family herself, I, as the oldest, was always responsible for the siblings, meals, the home, the dog, all of it. And if someone else did something wrong, it was my fault for not watching better.

    #4, surprise surprise, I married a number 4 as my second marriage! His mother extremely controlling, he was always the screw up, his sister was the golden child.

    #5, my first marriage was to a narcissist who felt everything was about him, he could do no wrong, twisted everything around, gaslighted myself and now my children.

    People just do not put enough thought into how they raise their children and psychology before deciding to start a family.

  14. I am very abusive childhood. I dabble between #4 I cannot do anything and becoming paralyzed and #5 ending up doing everything for myself!

    it is exhausting to great to see the examples in print and reflect.

  15. I have been back and forth for years, really trying to work my emotional well-being out. I’ve been through the ringer in life, but I seemed to be welcoming my own disaster. Poor choices brought me to where I presently still sit. Why on earth did I do the things that I did? Why did I drop out of highschool in the 11th grade? Why did I decide to get married at 19? Why didn’t I try and persue music, the only thing I ever wanted to do?!?!? Why do I have a son that I never see? Why did I get married and divorced again? I was exposed to a toxic woman off and on throughout my youth, and through the years this womans voice started coming out of my own mind like it was me, and suddenly every vile thing that that woman ever said to me, they became what I believed about myself. My mother has verbally abused me for as long as I can recall. She’s hit me, but man, being hit really has nothing on what words can do.

    Anyways, I grew up in a shitty environment and so did my brother’s. Ones a terrible addict, one died from neglect and the younger two are mostly ok, considering. We’ve each had our own experiences with a mother that ignored us, was verbally abusive and sometimes physically abusive too. Mental illness is a tricky thing, and sometimes you don’t have anything wrong with you at all, you’re just a product of your environment and that’s just how the cards fall sometimes. My mother had reasons to drink, sure. She had more reasons to try and get help, but we didn’t matter. We were just proof of her mistakes, living proof. There are days when this woman pops out of me at my children, and I cannot stand the thought of my children going through what I went through. I’m trying so hard to cut this woman away from who I am, but I can’t. I don’t know how.

  16. #2 and #5 are the big ones for me with a little #3 for good measure. I can’t tell you how tired I am of thinking everyone is watching me or that I’m responsible for a strangers bad mood! My lifelines are constantly talking to myself in my head asking the question ‘Says who’?! or telling myself that the feeling of being watched is just my low self esteem and insecurities rearing their ugly heads! I lose jobs over this and at my age, running out of better jobs. I don’t have a thick skin and get very upset when someone mentions my introvertedness. I have left several jobs throughout my life for this very reason. Tired of it. The job I’m at now, I’m kicking and clawing my day through but it’s only a 16 hour week which leaves me living paycheck to paycheck. I’m very independent also and realize that sometimes I do need to ask for help. Thanks.

 

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