No one has a perfect childhood. No one.
Even if you had a good childhood, you also had painful experiences that shaped you in adulthood. You tell yourself lies about yourself and the world around you.
That doesn’t mean that you had bad parents, or that they didn’t care. The reality is that there is no handbook or class to prepare you for being a parent. Parents make mistakes, and that’s OK. They do the best they can. And sometimes it’s not enough.
Let’s say you grew up with a single parent. They were stressed out financially and time-wise. You might have taken on the responsibilities of an adult, such as raising younger siblings, or you might have been an emotional support for your parent. This can translate into a belief of “I have to take care of others” or “My needs aren’t important”. As an adult, you might not be able to ask for what you need and you might prioritize everyone else above you. Sound familiar?
What about growing up with a perfectionist mother or father? No matter how well you do, they want you to do better. They want you to be the best you can be, but you might get the message “I’m not good enough”. This can show up in adulthood as low self esteem and always questioning yourself and your decisions. That doesn’t mean you can’t function well in the world but maybe you never feel quite satisfied.
Maybe you had a parent who valued independence and self sufficiency above all else. They see it as a success if you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get over it (whatever “it” is). This can be especially difficult if you were born very sensitive to your emotions and emotions of those around you. You might get the message “I have to do it alone”, “I can’t ask for help” or “I got this”.
There are so many different messages (lies) that we tell ourselves that they are endless. You might have had a good childhood and have a good life now but you don’t feel quite happy. You have a hard time coping with stressors, find it difficult to deeply trust others in relationship, or struggle at work. These problems can often be traced back to early relational wounds.
These examples are known as developmental wounds. They happen in relationship with another person, so they can only be healed through relationship. You can’t talk yourself out of these beliefs because they are so deeply embedded that that feel like fact.
Therapy isn’t always about treating severe mental illness. It can be a way to improve your life and feel better about yourself and your relationships. You can heal these developmental wounds through having new experiences that challenge these old beliefs. You don’t need to experience the lies as facts anymore.
Do any of these beliefs sound familiar to you? What lies do you tell yourself that get in the way of being the best YOU that you can be?