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Peter19 12-23-2007 09:57 AM

Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
First of all, I hope that this is the right sub-forum to post this thread.
Secondly, yes I know that it is always easier to blame others for your problems, but I just want to know my parents (mostly fathers) role in me being a person with a low self-esteem, self-confidence etc.

My parents are very difficult people to get along with, mostly because they think that the world revolves around them. Throughout my childhood my father had always the need to show everyone how much of a cool guy he is and mostly it happened on my expense and it was humiliating. He would make these kind of jokes on me in front of everyone - for example he would constantly tell people that when we get home, he will beat me (he didn't actually do that, just wanted to seem like a cool guy or whatever), jokes about how I suck at everything etc. It seemed like when it came to his jokes, he treated me like friends treat each other (you know, when a friend makes a joke on you, then in return you make a joke on him), but it was difficult to step up to him (for example one time he called me names all day, in front of everyone of course, and when I started to call him names back, he got all upset and had a serious talk to me about what I did). And yes, when I was younger, I tried to step up, but as time went on, I got really annoyed and tired of all his **** and just started to remain silent, pretending to ignore him, but as I got older, it got even more humiliating for me. But the jokes didn't stop and this anger towards him started to grow inside of me. Every time he called me (i should tell you that my parents are separated) I didn't want to answer and I just didn't want to communicate with him. Recently I got so ****** off on him and told him how I have felt all these years. He acted so surprised and all, but this is not relevant right now.

And when it comes to my mother, if you have watched The Sopranos, then my mother is pretty much like Tony's mother (I am using this description in order to be brief) - self-pity, "nobody cares about me" etc. With her I have had big W.T.F moments, because most of the times she screamed on me with no reason. Although right now I get along with my mother, I really hate her.

When it comes to me being a shy guy, I know that this is my fault too, because I played a lot of computer games when I was younger and sometimes I chose to play games instead of hanging out with my friends.

There is actually a lot more, but I am trying to be brief and not take up much of your time.

Now I am starting to reach the question. In school, in the lower grades, I was a really extroversive person, but as time went on I became a real introvert. It is really hard for me speak up, I am terrible in talking to new people and I have almost no self-confidence. I just want to know if this is it partly because of the way my parents treated me?

GypsyArcher 12-23-2007 10:45 AM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
That is too bad that your parents are/were such jerks. Sometimes people do not know how to be parents and that is too bad. Your parents certainly did not help you build any self-esteem. But the good news is that now you are an adult. You sound extremely intelligent. When we get to be adults, most, if not all of us have to look back and realize that our parents were not perfect and that there are things we are angry at them about, and then try to deal with that anger and let it go. My parents are good people but there are many ways I feel that they dropped the ball. HOWEVER, I was never starved or abused and I have made it into adulthood somehow, so they didn't do that bad.

The good (and sometimes bad haha) thing about being an adult is that now you can take responsibility for yourself, and build up your self-esteem on your own. Forgiveness is definetly the gift you give yourself.

Larrylou'smom 12-23-2007 12:12 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
Our parents are largely responsible for who we are when we turn 18, but I think after that, it's up to us to "rise above our raising" so to speak. Some people get a poor, disadvantaged start in life due to poor upbringing and parents who just didn't know any better, and it's a shame, and no it's not fair, but what can we do? all we can do is try to clean it up and move forward and be the best people we know how to be. If there's something about your life, your character, your personality, etc. it doesn't really matter how you got that way, though knowing the root of the problem can be a first step to fixing it, what really matters is what are you willing to do now to fix it.

KeltoKel 12-23-2007 04:46 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
Well sure, your parents have a lot to do with who you are, but as an adult, you choose WHO YOU WILL BECOME.

The classic example is my brother and I. We have the same crummy father. My brother still blames my dad for his childhood and life. Granted, my dad did some bad things to my brother and was not a role model to us in the least, but my brother chooses to place blame instead of rising above it.

I remember as a kid looking at my dad and thinking about how much of a loser he was and how I didn't want to end up like him. I went off to college, got a master's degree, and am happily married with a child of my own. I worked as a professional for 10 years before choosing to stay at home with my son.

My brother never went to college and blames the world for his problems. He is also very self centered and moody. In fact, he is very much like my father.

So, even though our parents raise us, I believe you have the power to become your own person. Stop thinking about all the wrong your parents did to you as a kid and rise above them.

treelover 12-25-2007 05:00 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?

While it is true that to a certain point we shape our own destiny our upbringing plays a significant role in our personality, our coping skills and a whole lot of other stuff. Unfortunatley what served us well as children (survival skills) does not work as an adult. I have many many "issues" due to my upbringing and my parents' neglect. I have forgiven them but that does not change the fact they they have left their imprint on me. We can change to a certain degree, yes, but change is slow in coming. Our brains become wired a certain way and we have to learn to change those circuits.

I have had [B]a lot[/B] of therapy and I still suffer from depression and anxiety. My self esteem and self confidence have improved immensely but it did not happen overnight.

Your parents can't change but you can. Once we can see where the problem is we can begin to do something about it.


Kszan 12-25-2007 05:39 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
I personally try to live by the Eleanor Roosevelt school of thought, whereby no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. And I agree with the others that, as you are growing up, it might be a problem, but once you become an adult, you realize that you're your own person, and therefore, your self-esteem relates to what you do with your life and how you do it. Your parents can say whatever they want, it doesn't change that you're still very much your own person and capable of making your own decisions in your life to either improve it or make it stay the same or get worse. That's all on you. In conclusion, growing up it can have an effect, but when you're an adult, it's all about you.

happymom28 12-26-2007 06:20 AM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
Well, I know parents contributed to my low self esteem all through my childhood and adolesence. Once I became an adult I worked very hard to build on my self esteem, to the point I had to move away for a while to get away from their influence until I felt good enough about me to be around them.

I feel that once you reach adulthood you are capable of making the decisions in your life that affect your self worth. If they are still cutting you down you have the power to walk away from them as to not allow them to do so. You have the power to control what things affect you.

Mr.G 12-29-2007 05:57 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
gosh this sounds like my dad! He did that same thing. He actually rarley let me speak for myself when growing up ever! He did the bellitelling thing all the time and constantly told me I was useless and stuff/wish he had a different son. I think in effect he was a narcissist. He always wanted me to reasurre him off himself and never actually considered me as a human being with needs and reassurance. I went through a horrible depression all through highschool and most of college. I was very socially retarted but had a weird sense of humor that drew people too me. Anyhow in effect our parents to play a large role in our self esteem. Also how we get treated by people on a regular basis, how we do in school, work, sports etc. It took me nearlly 3 yrs of personal examination to get over my insecurity issues and build self-confidence. At the age of 25 I am now starting to gain a good self esteem and confidence. So yes you can overcome anything that has happend to you. It takes time but just realize it was not your fault. I am guessing your dad probably had a bad upbringing as well. There are some books out their about (unhealthy) narcissict parents and the effects it has on you. I recommend checking it out.

Stillsearching 12-30-2007 12:45 AM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
Dear Peter,

I'm so sorry this has happened to you. I too am suffering from narcistic parents.

My mother used to introduce me to her many men as "her cousin" when I was growing up. She constantly denied me and my siblings as her children to appear "younger" to the several guys that revolved in and out of her bedroom. My father on the other hand was hardly there for us which didn't do us any good either. Even up until this past week, our mother's still the same except this time, we just completely stopped talking to her because she's VERY toxic and demeaning to us. She's not going to change, and as much as it hurts us, we'd decided to stop talking to her. She doesn't have a kind word to say to us and about us. We just got tired to listening to all of her negative and demeaning messages.

As the folks above me have said, it's up to you to make the change, just like me and my siblings. We're all adults now and it's up to us to "nurture" us, the way we needed to be nurtured.

You no longer need to tolerate anybody's negative messages.

Therapy has helped me and I'm contemplating of going back because I still have some anger towards my parents and I don't like to be angry. It takes away too much of my energy.

I also believe that the things we experience in life, even the negative ones makes us become better human beings. I'm a parent now and I'm completely the opposite of my parents. I've asked my son who's now 20 years old if he's had a good childhood and he said, "Mom, I couldn't have asked for a better childhood with so many good memories". That's my payback.

You'll be okay Peter. Just take good care of "you".

Mr.G 12-30-2007 04:36 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
still searching put some good words down. I have forgiven my dad because he has went to a pyschologist and is working on being more compassionate. The thing about narcissm is the people that have it are deeply hurt and lack a normal human empathetic value. Every word, action, and so on is seen as a slight to thier own vanity. They just cannot except themselves as anything less than perfect, only because they never recieved the healthy love and assurance growing up. They even see thier kids and other family members as extensions of themselves and have no concept of other people haveing boundries. They take no consideration of privacy and feelings of other people. The best way to deal with it is just to give up on them getting to treat you right. I know that sounds kind depressing but without extensive therapy they really have no way of changeing. Try to avoid long eye contact or anything else that will trigger them to feel as if they are being judged. People are chemically addicted to thier emotions and thought patterns. These thought and emotionally patterns have been repeated over and over again and are hardwired in thier emotional and brain makeup. Everyone does what they can to survive, the ego will take whatever means necessary to feed itself the nueropeptides that keep it happy. Ok I know this is getting deep but I have a good backround in pyschology and I have been in your guys I understand the pain.

Also i dont know what kind of realtionship patterns you have formed, but many times children of narissicts parents become very naricissitic themselves our they become co-narcissists. They go around concerend for the feelings and needs of others and never worry about themselves. Some even go to the extent of needing people to tell them they are dumb,worthless..etc etc because that is what they were used to growing up. I know for several years I feel into the co-narcissist category, then I shifted raddically and became almost as narcissitic as my dad. But then I slowly evolved into the middle path of a normal emotionally healthy person. It takes a lot of time and you actually do have to rewire your brain to differnt thought and emotional patterns.

I dont know what your beleifs are in god because you can always ask him for help. God has done increadible work on me and I dont think without his help i would have feel into the same narcissict pattern. If you have any questions feel free to ask, I have extensive knowlege in pyschology and I am very spiritual as well. God bless you guys.

Stillsearching 12-30-2007 11:00 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
^^ McGunther,

You said something that I used to do to myself.

My son has only met 1 man during his upbringing and I was already engaged to him when they met. I just want to get that out of the way. :D

Several years ago, I was dating this one guy. He was very receptive and had a positive way of communicating with me. At the time, I kept putting myself down, loudly criticizing myself such as:

"I'm such a dummy!"
"I can't stand the way I look"
"Maybe if I was smarter, I could get a better job"
"My _____ (enter any body part) is so ugly, I'm surprised you're with me"
"I'm brainless, why are you even with me?"

These are just some of the self-criticizing things I would say out loud and to this guy! This guy couldn't understand why I'm so critical towards myself. One day, he just stood there when I criticized myself again and blurted, "why are you so hard on yourself? Don't you see anything good about you? "

WHOA! eye-opening moment! I was repeating everything my mother used to say about me. My self-esteem was shot WAY down, I couldn't even see anything good about myself. I seeked therapy immediately and unfortunately, the guy I was dating didn't stick around. Which was fine. I believe that certain people comes into our lives for a reason and I believe his reason to come into mine was finished and it was his time to leave. But he'd helped me open my eyes about myself and see that - I am enough. I am lovable and everything about me is fine and there's not a thing wrong with me.

Thought I'd just throw that in there for someone else to learn from my experience. Therapy helped and continually helps me.

Peter19 12-31-2007 12:23 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
Thank you for yours answers, I really appreciate your help.

Mcgunther, I never imagined that my parents might be narcissistic people, but as you explained the meaning of the word "co-narcissistic", I got a bit scared. I looked up the traits that co-narcissistic people have and pretty much read out the description of myself. I don't think I have all the traits, but most certainly the following:

-low self-esteem
-work hard to please others
-defer to others opinions
-focus on others’ world views
-find it hard to know how they think & feel about a subject
-doubt the validity of their own views & opinions (especially when these conflict with others’ views)
-fear being considered selfish if they act assertively

Now I feel even more depressed. Please, give me some guidelines what I am supposed to do? (Right now I am really lost.)

Mr.G 12-31-2007 03:55 PM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
I had a big reply written out but then my computer crashed! Anyhow sorry pete I did not intend to make you more depressed. But being aware of what it is that is makeing you depressed or have low self-esteem is a crucial first step in the write direction. I really cant tell you if your parents are actually narcissitic, I do not know enough about them. But just from the tid-bits of info this sounds like the case. It could be rather just low self-esteem they have themselves. Anyhow the first step is to forgive them. I know this sounds kind of hard but holding anger and resenment towards people is a big hinderance for your own personal self-growth. I am not saying that what they have done is ok, but rather just to let go and start to see yourself as your own master. Their are some good books on emotional thearpy out thier. I have read tons of books on emotional fixes and problems and I found that it is better to not read too much because it just keeps you focused on the wrong things. I have found that it is much better to focus on what it is you want to be. Think of the ego as a recorder that has a playback feature on it. Anything that you feed into will be reflected back into the way you feel about yourself and the world around you. Affirmations work great for this. I have done them for quite some time. Write down what it is exactly you want to improve about yourself...and really, really keep up on the way you talk to yourself and how you react to other people. Re-read them sevearl times a day and really focus on the inner-dialouge in your head. Is it constantly negative? Focus on keeping it positive. Even the thoughts towards your parents. Now when it comes to reactions to people, when someone crosses the line I do think it is important to stand for yourself. I always do so in a fashion that is not emotioanlly charged. Just state calmly and assertively when something is bugging ya. It takes quite some time to make the change, but you really have to stick to it. Well if there is anything else you want to ask feel free. This should just be a kick-start into the right direction. Good luck!

Peter19 01-01-2008 04:19 AM

Re: Are my parents to blame that I have a low self-esteem?
No, you don't need to be sorry, you have helped me greatly. And yes, my thoughts are constantly negative, but after reading your advice, I've decided to let all that hatred go, well, gradually trying do.

Thank you, I'm really, really grateful.

Well, I have put a lot of thought into it and as other posters have also talked about forgiveness, I've decided to forgive my parents, I don't want to become best friends with them, I am just going to tell them about how I feel, which is that I don't have a grudge against them anymore.

Huge thanks to all of you.

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