“You are so lazy, how could anyone love you.” “You are so fat, how could anyone even look at you.” These are horrible statements that most of us would never say to anyone. We wouldn’t say them to our friends, family members, and especially not our children. Then why am I writing about them? Because these statements, and many more like them, we often say to ourselves! Have you ever really thought about your self talk? Many of us deal with abandonment or shame from our parents, and we only add to the problem by continuing to abandon and shame ourselves.
We have been trained since childhood to have this negative self talk. If you had parents that were overly critical then you learn to criticize yourself. If you had messages as a child of, “you are not good enough,” “you need to do better,” “other people are better than you.” Or if you never had any praise in your childhood, guess what – you grow up and continue to criticize or never praise yourself or shame yourself. It’s not bad enough that you have you have to feel shame from others, but you could be your own worst enemy. The more you shame yourself the worse you are going to feel about yourself, then the more you shame yourself. Its a dangerous and dysfunctional cycle.
An example would be a woman whose father constantly told her growing up, “you cannot do anything.” She grew up and even said that her self talk is like talking to a dog. She found herself dating a man that is an alcoholic and talks down to her constantly. She finally made the connection that her self talk about this relationship was that “You cannot do any better.” Eerily similar to what her father would say to her.
It is a very similar scenario if you suffer from abandonment issues from your childhood. The lost child in a family is one without a voice who keeps his mouth shut since he knows he won’t be heard anyway and the worst thing to do in the family would be to rock the boat. So if this is how you grow up you allow yourself to be lost within yourself. You may think something is important in one second and the next second you’re telling yourself, “oh, no one will listen to me anyway,” “what does it matter anyway, nothing I have to say is important.” So it is bad enough that you were abandoned and lost as a child, but now you are abandoning yourself as an adult with your self talk.
An example of this would be another woman whose parents only gave her attention when she was perfect. She had two other sisters and she was considered the “ugly” one. Her parents would actually tell her as much. So she was always first in her class to make sure that she would get noticed. So she grows up, has an amazing job, but constantly feels like she has to be perfect. She made one small mistake that was no big deal and since that mistake was made she has been working twice as hard because she is scared if she makes one more mistake she may get fired. She learned that to not be abandoned she had to be perfect and she continues this trend.
We all need to learn as adults how to comfort our inner child that we are used to beating up, shaming, and abandoning. If you wouldn’t talk to others that why then why would you talk to yourself that way? Give yourself positive praise and approval.