Did you hear all of the things you needed to hear while you were growing up? Even if you had a ‘good’ childhood, parenthood doesn’t come with a manual and parents inadvertently can say things…or not say things, that just aren’t helpful to our growing self identity. Even with the best intentions this happens.
And there are many who didn’t have supportive, loving childhoods. They definitely didn’t hear all of the right things.
Often what we didn’t hear was worse than what we did. Or sometimes the ‘when’ of what we heard was the issue. If you only received loving words when you performed extremely well, and heard nothing the rest of the time, even if you were safe and you knew in some way you were loved, you learned that to be ok and supported, you had to push and go beyond 100% and succeed in order to be recognized, to be ok.
All of the hurtful or confusing things we heard, and those we needed to hear but didn’t, led to us developing an understanding about ourselves and the world that may not have been helpful or healthy.
We can’t go back and hear the right things from our parents or other family members, or whomever raised us. Even if you can hear your parents or caregivers say the right things now, the early impact remains.
What to do?
We can be our own loving, supportive parents to our younger, little selves. We can tell our 2 or 4 or 10 year old selves, still residing within us, what we needed to hear at those ages.
This topic has been showing up with my clients often lately. One thing that can help is to face this head on, and then be our own best supporters.
Here’s an idea:
- Create a list of all of the things you heard that were not helpful and things you didn’t hear that would have helped.
2. Reframe those negative statements to comments that are more helpful, that would have been better at the time, ie, “You’re so stupid,” to “You tried your best.”
3. Write your little self a letter and tell yourself all of the things you needed to hear in childhood, including the newly reframed comments.
4. Imagine your little self sitting in front of you and read this list out loud to her/him.
This may feel awkward or weird, but it can be very powerful. And, it can help to release some of the old programming, the old beliefs that hold us back from loving ourselves, or that keep us overdoing, overperforming, never being ok with what we do.
There’s no perfect way to be or do, but we can find ourselves striving for perfection. If we release others’ expectations, or what we think are their expectations, this frees us up to just be us. If we do this for our little child selves, we may be able to build some more self compassion and self love.
Tapping, one of the techniques I use often with clients, can also be very helpful for this. If you’d like to connect to see how we can work together to remove old beliefs and develop deep self compassion and self love, I offer free discovery calls.
I’d love to hear what you think about this!