Hey, Psych2Goers! Before we get started, this is a disclaimer that this article isn’t meant to diagnose, treat, or cure anyone. It is for informative purposes only, so if you or someone you know may be struggling, we urge you to seek professional help from a therapist or another trusted professional.
Have you ever thought you were crazy? Maybe you struggle with expressing your emotions or trusting others when everyone else seems to have it figured out. It’s so tempting to blame yourself for your weaknesses and conflicts; however, did you know your upbringing plays a huge role in who you are? It affects your love language, personality, hobbies, and so much more. Knowing this, many emotional struggles and misconceptions can be traced back to your upbringing. By looking at how your parents treat you, sibling relationships, and family dynamics, you can see toxic behavior’s deep and long-lasting harmful effects. Meaning, if you relate to any of these 6 signs, you’re not crazy, it’s your upbringing.
1. Conditional love
Does it feel like your parents only treat you well when you’re successful? They may shower you in love and affection when it’s convenient for them, but the second something goes wrong, they treat you like a disappointment. Conditional love is someone basing how they treat you on what you do, not who you are. And, when those conditions aren’t met, they’ll retaliate in the form of verbal abuse, silent treatment, or, in extreme situations, physical abuse. This can lead to someone thinking they have to earn love, which makes them more likely to become a people pleaser or be taken advantage of. So, if you relate to this point, you’re not crazy, it’s the way your parents twisted love that contributes to any misconceptions you might have about it. Just try to remember that real love is unconditional, and you don’t have to earn anything to be worthy of it.
Do your parents constantly use phrases such as, “If you really care about me, you’d…” or, “I’ve done so much for you, and this is how you repay me?” When parents guilt their children into doing things their way, it can lead to misconceptions such as love has to be repaid, kindness always has strings attached, and thinking they’re a burden. However, while respecting everything parents do is important, it’s not something they should hold over a child’s head. Simply put, a child cannot feed or clothe themselves, so parents shouldn’t make them feel as if they have to repay them for something uncontrollable. If you struggle with accepting kindness and trusting others, you’re not broken or crazy. It’s likely a result of being guilt-tripped as a child.
3. Never admitting they’re wrong
When your parents argue with you, do they ever admit fault or apologize? Some parents struggle with admitting fault to someone younger than them. It may hurt their pride, or they view it as their child being disrespectful. Whether good or bad, your parents are one of your biggest influences and role models, meaning if they never admit they’re wrong, you could internalize that as how people in positions of power should act. Later in life, you could struggle with admitting fault, taking responsibility for your words and actions, or overcoming your pride. So, don’t think you’re crazy if this describes you. In reality, it’s likely a result of your upbringing.
4. Comparing you to your siblings and others around your age
Have your parents ever said, “Why can’t you be more like…” or, “When your sibling was your age, they were much more accomplished.” While it may not sound like a big deal, your parents are supposed to love and support you unconditionally, so if they instead constantly compare you to others, you may end up thinking that’s what all love is like. This can lead to becoming overly competitive, jealous, and lower self-esteem. You may even end up resenting your siblings and others who are seemingly more accomplished due to the harsh environment you were raised in. If this describes you, try to remember that accomplishments don’t define your worth and that you’re not broken.
5. Projecting all their flaws and insecurities onto you
When your parents critique you, does it ever sound like they’re describing themselves? Parents, and people in general, tend to project everything they dislike about themselves onto others. This could be a way of deflecting and avoiding their own flaws. Most kids don’t realize this, so it drastically lowers their self-esteem and can lead to self-loathing, anxiety, and depression. If this has affected you, while it’s hard to internalize, you are not your parents nor are their flaws yours.
6. Over controlling behavior
Does it feel as if your parents monitor everything you do? From who you talk to, to what you wear, do they just have to know everything? The instinct to protect your children is natural, but did you know it can have unintended consequences when taken too far? For example, the child could feel suffocated without any boundaries between them and their parents, causing them to rebel or become secretive. They could also stay sheltered, which could mean they’re easily taken advantage of and mislead. Over controlling behavior is one of the biggest causes for a strained relationship between parents and their children, so if you struggle with this as well, you’re not crazy, and it isn’t your fault.
The bottom line is parents are human too. While most kids idolize them, you shouldn’t forget they can be quite harmful and toxic, sometimes without even knowing or intending to be. This means you cannot blame yourself for feeling the negative effects of their upbringing. It’s hard to internalize, but you are not broken, crazy, or unworthy of love.
Did you relate to any of these signs? If so, which ones? Feel free to leave a comment with your experience, feedback, or suggestions!