Constant criticism from childhood can leave deep scars that impact us as adults. This topic hits close to home for many of us. My father's constant criticism took a heavy toll on me, especially in the first seven years of life, when our brains have their biggest growth.
[Side Note: The human brain develops roughly 25 percent in the womb and 75 percent after birth. By age three, the most significant brain growth portion, up to 90 percent, is established. The remaining 10 percent continues into the early twenties.}
I honestly can’t remember one time when he said I did something well or was proud of me. And so I would have to believe I was not worthy or good enough – a trauma response because I would have to attach to my father that is survival. And children will mostly believe their parents are right. The constant criticism wires the voice of not being enough or unworthy, etc. In my book, I call this Mistaken Identity.
These effects can be far-reaching into adulthood and varied, but acknowledging them is the first step toward healing and growth.
1️) Low Self-Esteem: We may find ourselves wrestling with self-esteem issues, plagued by self-doubt, and haunted by the nagging feeling that we're not "good enough."
2️) Perfectionism: We set impossibly high standards for ourselves as adults, driving us to chronic stress and anxiety.
3️) Fear of Failure: We shy away from risks or hesitate to pursue our dreams because we fear failure and the associated criticism.
4️) Difficulty in Relationships: We might grapple with trust issues, struggle to open up emotionally, or even engage in self-sabotaging behavior within our relationships.
5️) Negative Self-Talk: We continually berate ourselves and reinforce the critical messages we received during our upbringing.
6️) Anxiety and Depression: Can contribute to the development of anxiety and depression in adulthood. These mental health challenges can be particularly daunting to overcome.
7️) Avoidance of Conflict: We may avoid conflict and confrontation as adults, fearing criticism or rejection if we express our needs or concerns.
8️) Emotional Dysregulation: Some of us might experience emotional outbursts, while others may suppress their emotions, making it difficult to connect with others on an emotional level.
9️) Difficulty Accepting Compliments: Accepting compliments graciously can be challenging for those criticized in childhood.
The good news is that healing and personal growth are entirely possible! While childhood criticism leaves a lasting mark, it doesn't have to define our future. It's never too late to work towards healing our wounds, developing healthier self-esteem, better relationships, and improved emotional well-being.
Remember, you are worth the effort it takes to heal!! This is the work I do with my clients, healing the inner child.