Posted in Alienation

When you lack self-respect and self-love

Before we explore why self-respect is crucial for happiness, we must first learn to recognize the red flags of low self-esteem.

1. You’re the doormat.

If you’re always the one that people ask things for without giving back anything in return, then you might need to build up your self-love. Same is true if you let people walk all over you, giving in to their wishes even though you hate it.

2. You lose yourself in a relationship.

You start a relationship and then, in the process, completely forget who and what you are. Decisions are made without your approval or notice, and you just plod along. Your forget your values and find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do, and which is totally against your true nature.

3. You are attention seeking.

You’re dying for validation which your low self-esteem cannot provide. Instead, you follow an image or symbol in order to gain attention and sometimes do stupid and erratic things, like making a fool of yourself at a party or the office.

4. You overindulge in bad habits.

You’re drinking, drugging, overeating, self-harming, punishing yourself, and your body. Food and drugs become ways to indulge and to forget.

5. You care for people who don’t care for you.

You’ll move mountains for someone who doesn’t even take notice of you. You keep making excuses for those who wouldn’t think twice to throw you under the bus.

6. You tolerate verbal, mental, or physical abuse.

You tolerate abusive partners and nasty people because you remember that one time they really treated you nicely, and you hang on to that feeling of belonging.

7. You have desperate, casual sex.

You have sex with someone just because you need the attention. Your sex isn’t liberated, fun, or respectful. You don’t enjoy it, but instead, use sex as a way to feel you belong or are loved.

8. You are a puppet.

You meekly go along because you genuinely believe you have nothing of value to add to a conversation, relationship, or meeting because you think your opinions offer no value.

9. You became untidy and sloppy.

Your surroundings are in a mess. Your room is scattered with clothing and the sink in the kitchen is constantly full of dishes. You don’t’ care about cleaning up and just want to sleep all day.

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Posted in Alienation

Don’t pretend everything is okay

Focus on who you have and who you are. Having a good support system of friends or other family members makes cutting ties easier. Maintaining your values is a part of who you are. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, and who supports you is your North Star, your compass.

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Don’t pretend everything is okay. Don’t minimize your thoughts and feelings by pretending everything is ok. When applicable, talk to other family members about your situation. Let them know you will be avoiding contact with this person. Briefly explain why, and don’t back down.

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Posted in Alienation

It’s Okay to Say Goodbye When…

  • The relationship is physically or mentally abusive. Don’t downplay the effects of these kinds of abuse, especially long-term. It may take counseling to realize you’ve been abused.
  • It causes enough stress that it affects important aspects/areas of your life, like work or home life.
  • You find yourself spending a lot of time thinking about the sour relationship and losing sleep over it. Don’t underestimate how lack of sleep and stress effect your health.
  • The relationship is one-sided when there is no valid reason why there isn’t some effort made by the other person.
  • The relationship is only about borrowing money.
  • The family member is taking you down with them or constantly demanding favors or asking you to bail them out of trouble. Don’t get involved in risky business and legal trouble, even if they are family.
  • The person is using gossip to manipulate and control you and/or other family members against you.
  • All contact with them is negative. They only call to bring you down and put you down, too.
  • There are negative consequences every time this family member doesn’t get what they want from you.
  • They play childish games— the silent treatment, blame games— and there is no talking to them. It’s their way or no way.

Most people know intuitively when it’s time to cut ties. Listen to yourself.

Cutting people out of your life doesn’t mean you hate them, it simply means you respect yourself. Not everyone is meant to stay.

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Posted in Alienation

Evaluating the Relationship

Just because someone shares some DNA with you they get to take your stuff? Call you names? Demean you? Sabotage your relationships and career? No way!

— Dr. Phil McGraw

Chances are you’ve been evaluating the strained relationship for awhile, but committing to cutting the ties brings on feelings of guilt, failure, shame, emptiness, doubt, abandonment, and even grief.

Deciding to face these feelings and manage them is a brave step.

No matter how strained, intolerable, and/or abusive the relationship is, it’s a difficult decision to make. Asking yourself the questions below can help.

  • What’s the history? Psychologists have an old saying: “The best prediction of future behavior is past behavior.” Having extensive history is what hurts the most when breaking up with a family member, but if that history has been chronically negative, this can make it easier to make an informed and intuitive decision. It will be hard to let go of the relationship or put some distance between you if there were good times along with the bad. It can still be difficult to cut ties if it’s been a long, torturous road. Even familiar abuse and patterns are hard to break. Sometimes it helps to put it all on paper— one column for positives and one for negatives—so that you can see both sides objectively. Or give a point system to each good thing and each bad thing. Sometimes a really bad thing is much worse than 10 good things. Watch our for patterns that show the relationship is getting progressively worse. Also, if they keep insisting they’ve changed, then keep your eyes open to determine if their actions show that is indeed true. Even if they have changed, the relationship dynamic can remain the same.
  • Who else is affected by this relationship?
  • Consider the kids.
  • How is the stress effecting your personal life and current family?
  • What’s your role?
  • How do they feel about you? T
  • Are there any boundaries?
  • How close are you?
  • Is resolution possible?

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Posted in Alienation, Parentification

The Parentified Child and Anger

According to Maggie Olivares, a social worker who’s dealt with many parentified kids, anger is another byproduct that comes from missing out on a carefree childhood. When they’re adults, they look back on all the years when they had too much responsibility and too little fun and are resentful. They struggle to maintain a relationship with the mom or dad who parentified them and may even choose to end it.

To this day, I have tremendous anger toward my mother for using me as her marital therapist. It turned out that my father was never having an affair and it was all in my mom’s head, triggered by her deep insecurity. When my dad and she grew closer again after years of being distant, she unceremoniously dumped me. I was no longer needed as her confidant and ally. My relationship with my father had been annihilated years before that so I was left with nobody.

Fortunately, I’ve forgiven my mother and moved on with my life, but I still find it difficult to trust people. In the back of my mind, I’m worried about being used again. I often see friendships as depleting rather than energizing. While my mother has apologized for talking badly to me about my dad, she certainly hasn’t owned up to how she turned me into a parentified child and caused disastrous effects in my life.

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Posted in Alienation, Parentification

What Does Parentified Mean?

Parentification occurs when a child is forced to switch roles with their mom or dad, taking on the job of caretaker in the relationship. They may do this in an emotional way: listening to the parent’s problems, giving them comfort, and offering advice. They may also do it in a physical way: cleaning the house, taking care of siblings, making meals, and even paying bills. Youngsters often become parentified when their mom or dad is an alcoholic, a drug user, disabled, divorced, or mentally ill. Continue reading “What Does Parentified Mean?”

Posted in Alienation, Parentification

How to heal your “inner child.”

Parentification is when a child is forced to take on the role of an adult. Many children get pushed into the role of caretaker for their younger siblings or become the referee in their parent’s arguments. When caregivers aren’t able to fully show up for themselves, children get put into developmentally inappropriate situations.

Parentification occurs across a spectrum and there are different levels of hurt that may develop. There are also qualities that arise through parentification that may benefit you in certain areas of your life, like being responsible or a great caregiver. It’s not all bad, but it has the potential to become catastrophic for a child and their adult self. We have to find the right balance between responsibility and structure, play and fun.

Kids that were parentified often need inner child work. They usually struggle with having fun and are easily pulled into the caretaker role. Their worth is often tied directly to what they can provide to others and how “good” they are. Structure typically feels safer to them than play or improvisation.

Signs that you were parentified as a child

  1. Grew up feeling like you had to be responsible
  2. Trouble with play or “letting loose”
  3. Like to feel in control
  4. Pulled into arguments or issues between caregivers
  5. Felt like you were given responsibilities that were not appropriate for someone your age
  6. Often compliments for being “so good” and “so responsible”
  7. May feel that being self-reliant is better than trying to trust others
  8. Don’t really remember “being a kid”
  9. Parents had trouble caring for themselves or others and placed the responsibility on you
  10. Often find yourself becoming a caregiver for others
  11. Being a caretaker feels good, even when you are sacrificing parts of yourself
  12. Heightened sense of empathy and an ability to more closely connect with others
  13. Feel like you need to be the peacemaker
  14. Feel like your efforts aren’t appreciated

If you relate to any of the signs on this list, it might be helpful to get in touch with your inner child and allow yourself to experience that part of you. The playful part of the inner child is usually the part that gets crushed through parentification. This part wants to have spontaneous fun and live free from guilt or anxiety. Continue reading “How to heal your “inner child.””

Posted in Alienation

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

“Emotionally immature parents fear genuine emotion and pull back from emotional closeness,” Lindsay Gibson writes. “They use coping mechanisms that resist reality rather than dealing with it. They don’t welcome self-reflection, so they rarely accept blame or apologize. Their immaturity makes them inconsistent and emotionally unreliable, and they’re blind to their children’s needs once their own agenda comes into play.”

Source: Book Review: Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents