Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]

How Self-Esteem is Eroded from Early Childhood

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One of the most damaging ways adults (usually a parent) can tear away at a child’s sense of self and value (self worth, self esteem), is to ask the following:

“Why can’t you be more like…?”

Comparing ourselves with peers is hardwired into us, to help us adapt and survive. Children will therefore learn to compare themselves with their peers, but on their own terms, and usually at a much later time frame than is forced upon them.

When parents “teach” children to compare themselves with others, an underlying sense of threat (tied to parents’ approval) removes children’s sense of security about the persons they are. At the same time, a sense of wrongness is deposited on children’s self-perception about the people these children “recently were” .

Over time this creates human beings feeling like they can never be good enough, while calcifying their consciousness with feelings of failure.

Failing is an incredibly important experience for all children, but this is not the same as “Being a Failure.”

If you were a child who had grown up constantly compared, as I was, one of the ways to remove this emotional tartar is to be willing to completely fail at “living up to the image” of the comparison, whether this is a real person or an imaginary one in your parents’ mind.

Be very specific about all the ways you are NOT this person, and therefore, you can only fail “being” this person. In fact, celebrate all the positive and constructive differences you see between yourself and this real or fictitious person. This does not mean you cannot share common experiences or traits or interests — this only means you do not share the same fabric of life and therefore you will never be a duplicate of the person, nor will you ever be a Replicant of such a person. Being willing to fail at, and walk away from aspirations of being someone else, frees you to grow into the person you are meant to become: your self.

Written by Jane

October 30th, 2016 at 12:17 pm