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self critical, negative record playing in one's mind- WHAT causes this?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that I have a negative, self-critical record that plays in my mind. Lots of noise in my head, and it's not pretty. I'm not wanting to blame my parents for everything from my shoe size to my health problems, but I *do* wonder if the way I was parented is to blame for this. I had 6 sibs, and I would say they all suffer from self esteem issues as well, as well as varying degrees of depression/anxiety and negative self talk. So, i am seriously curious as to what type of parenting can cause this?

I don't want to make the same mistakes with my own kids. That's what is driving this. If there is some way *I* can help my kids to grow up with positive self-talk playing in their minds then I want to do it.
post #2 of 18
Unless the things in your head sound like what your parents would say to you as a child, I would think the connection might be more genetic than environmental. Mental illness, anxiety, depression, etc all have a strong genetic component. I suffer from anxiety, my dad has depression and anxiety, my grandma was agoraphobic...not sure about previous generations though. Not sure if this is helpful as you have posted in personal growth, not mental health, but it's the first thing that came to my mind.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
To be honest, I would say that a lot of what plays in my head I can remember hearing in my childhood.

Did i post in the wrong place with this? I wasn't really wanting to talk about depression/anxiety as much as parenting styles and how it affects a child's mental processes.

Does that make sense?


and, yes, I'm sure you are right that there is a genetic element. Positive there is!
post #4 of 18
I think parenting does cause/perpetuate that kind of stuff.

I cringe anytime I hear some parent telling their kid 'what you're going to do'.

Example: Toddler is climbing some stable or not-so stable something...anything from a curb to a slide to a shopping cart. Parent barks/croons/whines "You're going to fall"

Or, Big kid is waving around a stick , and parent barks/whines/croons "You're going to get hurt".

In the first example, it would be so much more appropriate to either let the kid fall (within reason), or reroute without the baggage. "The potential for a bad fall outweighs the fun of the climb. I'm going to help you into the cart/up the slide/down the mountain"

In the second, same idea. Parent can either let the kid go and very likely NOT get hurt, or decide that the risk of the potential hurt is greater than the value in letting the kid do their thing. And can speak respectfully: "Please put the stick on the ground, it's sharp and could cause a lot of damage".

Choosing to curse children with the worst possible outcome is a drag. And leads to what you describe, IME.
post #5 of 18
I think it is heavily related to parenting. I know for me it is.

There's a difference between understanding a link between how we were treated and staying stuck in blame. At this point, you have choices. You can take over your own life and what is going on in your head, work to heal yourself, and forgive your parents.

Or you can stay stuck.

For working on myself and moving past this in my own head, I love Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life." It's wonderful!

For parenting in ways that don't repeat this with my kids, I love "Liberated Parents, Liberated Children." I think the author is Faber.
post #6 of 18
You may want to read "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn. It is very interesting, and goes inot the effects of conditional parental love vs. unconditional perental love. Even though we throw around that phrase "unconditonal love" a lot, the fact is that very, very few of us actually experienced it with our own parents and it does have an effect on how we feel about ourselves.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone. That's what I was looking for. I think I need to start with the book about unconditional parenting. My mother, bless her heart, is the queen of NONunconditional love. She is just following her own upbringing though, and I know that first hand as i spent the first 17 years of my life observing the way my grandmother treated her.

Lots of things to think about.
post #8 of 18
Have you heard of some parents deliberately being hesitant with praise? It's related to this. Here's an article about it.

Sometimes mental illness isn't caused by parents, but you might help counteract that in your kids by teaching them the signs of depression so they'll recognize it in themselves if they ever get it (and be on the lookout for them too).
post #9 of 18
I have similar issues and I can trace my problems way back to even before I started school. Already by the time that I was 5 I was extremely hard on myself and I didn't take rejection or failure very well.

There are only two possible explanations to which I can attribute to this perfectionistic attitude: 1) I was born with it. Or 2) I was spanked as a child. (Or 3 - a combination of both)...

I learned at a very, VERY early age, that if you make a mistake, very bad things will happen... And that if you did something right, you got love, attention and respect. My parents were always critical as well. (My father, specifically). If I got a report card from school that had all A's except for 2 subjects (which were B+'s), he would say "hey -- what happened with these two??". We got rewarded for positive outcomes, NOT for the EFFORT that was involved in the task.

My mom tells me that by the time I was 5 and starting school, I was already a perfectionist. I obviously don't remember my childhood that well at an early age. But what I do remember of it was that I needed to be perfect or I didn't get love and affection.

I try very, very, VERY hard, to teach my children that "it's okay to make a mistake". It's not what you do when you made the mistake that matters -- what really counts is what you do AFTER. Mistakes are opportunities for learning.

I also try to recognize when I make a mistake, and I model appropriate behaviour. Like if spin around carrying something and knock a vase or a glass on the floor, I would say "Oops -- I made a pretty silly mistake. I better get to work right away and clean up this mess".

I also give love and affection freely, and with no relation whatsoever to their performance. If they do something that I really think is spectacular, I try not to comment on their performance, but only on the efforts that they made. I don't give praise & rewards, nor punishments (they are basically just opposite sides of the same double-edged sword). Instead I give encouragement, love, constructive criticism, and assurances that I have faith that they can work it out and manage it on their own -- if, after they've had a go at it,they still need assistance, then I step in and give a hand. I try to let them learn from their own mistakes instead of making all of the decisions for them.

I think it's working. Although I have a particularly hard time with my son because he was born like me -- he is also very hard on himself. I remember one situation recently -- he was using up all of the printed schedules at his Karate school to make paper airplanes (a new love of his). And I brought it to his attention that he shouldn't be making paper airplanes with the schedules because Sensai printed them for the parents and they needed them for that purpose. He then proceeded to hide the paper airplanes from Sensai because he didn't want to make him mad. I encouraged DS to come forward and explain to Sensai that he didn't know he was doing something wrong, and that Sensai wouldn't be mad. I convinced DS that the best thing to do was to come forward about his mistake and not to hide it. I did the talking for him, because he couldn't at the time. Sensai was great -- he told DS "I'm not mad, because no-one told you that you couldn't make paper airplanes. But now you know -- and as long as you don't do it again, we're good." He hasn't made paper airplanes with the schedules since, and he was all smiles after that because Sensai wasn't mad at him after his mistake

I think we're slowly getting there, but DS does frequently do things without thinking and he learns very quickly that there are consequences that he doesn't like from his thoughtless actions. But we're slowly managing to convince him that everyone makes mistakes -- the right thing to do is not to hide the mistake, but to try as best you can to fix it right away.
post #10 of 18
I'm a 47 y.o. daughter of perfectionists.

Getting over the damage without blaming my parents has been a lifelong struggle, but I figure that they gave me enough, and/or I found it in other parts of my life, to work through what I needed to fix.

Ironically, my 80 y.o. mother needed directions somewhere in town, so I was pointing them out on a map. Getting it all planned and explained ahead of time was crucial to her -- mustn't make a mistake -- but then I threw a wrench in the whole thing. Told her what to do if she overshot the turnoff. Explained the traffic pattern there, how to loop around and not lose it if it didn't come off perfectly the first time. Well, she /did/ miss the turn, she /did/ execute Plan B, and she /did/ get there! And the greatest joy to me was hearing her talk about it without her automatic "I was so stupid!" interjected in the narrative.

DS1 goes to a college that doesn't issue grades unless the student requests them (maintains on transcript, though); when he got an academic commendation, he asked me specifically not to tell him the qualifying GPA.

DS2 despises hearing how "brilliant" he is. I think it makes him feel as though people don't see the person behind the grades.

I married DH because he would handle a mishap with "here's what we do now" rather than treating it as the end of the world. It felt sooooo good missing a highway exit and hearing "OK, we'll just get off at the next one" rather than "What's wrong with you???"
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post
Have you heard of some parents deliberately being hesitant with praise? It's related to this. Here's an article about it.

Sometimes mental illness isn't caused by parents, but you might help counteract that in your kids by teaching them the signs of depression so they'll recognize it in themselves if they ever get it (and be on the lookout for them too).
I love that article. VERY interesting.

My parents didn't really praise us. And, my mom was often critical and exacting and harsh with her words when we made mistakes.

This thread is helpful to me.
post #12 of 18
Another book that helped me a lot was 'Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves' by Naomi Aldort. Really, you would think that when I was in therapy as a teen, my therapist might have mentioned that my thoughts are not reality. Instead it took a parenting book when I was 26 to point that out to me. How freeing!
post #13 of 18
I think it can also be cause by people other than parents. I moved out of my parents house in with my husband and MIL. Within 6 mos my personality drastically changed. The tape I had in my head was from MIL. I don't know how what my parents instilled in me got erased so fast.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post
Have you heard of some parents deliberately being hesitant with praise? It's related to this. Here's an article about it.
Holy Hannah! That article really hit home, in a major, serious, awe-inspiring, profound way. I bookmarked it. I was that kid, the smart kid . . . the "brightest girl" it mentions in the article - we were a small school, but I was the top of my class along with a couple of other girls. It was all I had. I was terrified that I would fail at something and be shown as stupid - which I knew was nearly true. Still, at 30, failing is TERRIFYING to me. Additionally, I sure can't take criticism. In fact, I was considering posting a new thread for that before I opened this one. Maybe instead I'll just show this article to my husband, and we'll have a new strategy for dealing with my defensive, fear-of-failure ways. Thank you so much. Really, it's like the universe has some power that dropped this in my lap or something. Thanks, instrument of the universe!
post #15 of 18
allmine, I don't know if you are checking back with this post, but I wanted to make another book recommendation that I think really speaks to your concerns. I was trying to remember it before, but couldn't and had to ask a therapist friend of mine. It's called "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel Siegal and Mary Hartzell. It's about helping parents understand the way they themselves were parented and how it shapes the way we parent our own children. I think you will find the book valuable.

http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Insi...8788754&sr=8-1
post #16 of 18
I think a lot of it comes from the way you were raised. Not necessarily your parents but from influences in your life. I do think some of it we just seem to be born with though. I have two siblings and I would say we are all very different but even though we were raised in the same household we still had different influences/experiences. I tend to be the perfectionist/everything that goes wrong is my fault person. I remember some of this from very early on so I'm not sure where I got it but I know it was influenced more throughout my life. My sister is emotional/soft and has a hard time dealing with being looked down on but is surprising no where near the perfectionist type. She doesn't care about that but she does have a soft heart if you are angry with her. My brother could care less. He's been that way since he was a baby though, like he's lost in his own little world.

I can see the same thing in my own kids. My son is the carefree little boy. He loves knowing he did something good but he could care less if he doesn't 'get' it. My daughter is very hard on herself. I have to work with her on it. Example: if we're learning something and she doesn't know the answer/understand something immediately she gets frustrated. I have to work with her that it's okay not to know everything or get it 'right' the first time and that her way is good too. She's getting better with more encouragement but she seemed to have been born with that attitude. I just hope I can encourage them both to grow up secure and without the negative voices I hear. Those book recs look great. Think I better check on some of them too.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jammomma View Post
allmine, I don't know if you are checking back with this post, but I wanted to make another book recommendation that I think really speaks to your concerns. I was trying to remember it before, but couldn't and had to ask a therapist friend of mine. It's called "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel Siegal and Mary Hartzell. It's about helping parents understand the way they themselves were parented and how it shapes the way we parent our own children. I think you will find the book valuable.

http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Insi...8788754&sr=8-1
very thankful for this book rec

and for all the insight and help shared on this thread

thanks everyone
post #18 of 18

Hello allmine, these posts might help answer your question..

 

May God Bless You & Everyone Here!

ACL


Edited by Library1 - 8/28/12 at 1:57pm
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