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Impact of Family on Self-concept

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 1:53 PM Comments comments (5)
Most of us have heard that as adults we shouldn't blame our parents for our upbringing. After all, we want to be  mature and responsible and blaming keeps us stuck. That is good advice. But what if your childhood was marked by shame or blame or belittling. Or maybe you were beaten or sexually assaulted by a very sick parent. Do you think you can just suck it up and put it away like an old family album? There may be some really nasty pictures in your "family album" that show up when you least expect it. 

Let me give  you an example. You are meeting with a new colleague, date, friend, or group. You really want to meet this person or this group. You spent quite a lot of time and effort in planning this meeting. But an hour before your meeting, you get this nasty picture in your head. It may be just a terrible feeling of dread and anxiety. You may be nauseated or extremely tired. Or you may see yourself in a past scenario where you were treated badly. 

This horrible experience may be stemming from an inner belief system about yourself that you have kept all these years from your childhood when you were unable to discern the rightness of your parents' actions towards you. We absorb what our parents "teach" us when we are little and we don't distinguish whether these "lessons" are kind or cruel. So if we received shaming and blaming messages, we believed the messages.  They become part of our self-concept. They are hard-wired into us and we are unaware of them. 

As a counselor, I will sometimes ask my clients to describe their childhood. Some clients  who are dealing with serious anger issues or very negative self-concepts or are involved with physical and verbal abusers tell me that their childhood was normal. When further questioned, they often describe parents who were unable to support them emotionally. They may have never gotten what they needed to feel secure and loved. 

My job is not to start blaming the parents. Most of them did the best they could with the tools they were given. But the awareness of the negative messages my clients received will be crucial in unlocking the door to self-acceptance and freedom to make happier and healthier choices for themselves.

There are methods through counseling to free yourself from negative messages that are holding you back from fully loving yourself. When you gain self-acceptance you gain self-love.