Relationships between a parent and a child are hard. As a parent you hold pretty much all the power in your hands. Whilst most will use this power to ensure their children are kept safe, secure and loved there are others who can abuse that power. Sometimes this isn’t intentional, however the resulting impact is just as devastating on a child and the chances are, some of the reasons you lack confidence have come as a direct result.
Your mother is in charge of the world you live in. She creates the rules, puts food on your plate and is the woman you look to when you are learning how to understand the way the world works. She will be the cement in you holding healthy future relationships however without knowing she may be accidently gaslighting you.
An abusive parent will gaslight actively. Undermining you as a child and into your adult life to make you feel there is an issue with you. Gaslighting an adult is terribly hard. The term came from a 1940’s movie where a man called Charles Boyer decided to manipulate the physical environment to convince his wife she was going mad. This was so he could have control of her, make her too afraid to leave him. It is common for an abusive partner to use these techniques. They use your fears and insecurities to manipulate you then accuse you of being neurotic if you catch them out. Unfortunately to gaslight a child is very simple, as they are learning and completely trust their parents.
There are many subtle ways a child can be gaslighted, which could lead to them feeling less confident in later life. Here are some examples of that
Perhaps you had a situation with a sibling where you were bullied. Did your parents ever say “Stop bothering him and he’ll stop hitting you?” whilst this may seem like an innocent comment it is actually affirming that you are the cause of the problem.
Perhaps you were feeling really happy one day and jumping around the living room. Your parent turned to you and said “Stop jumping around, can’t you ever be normal. If you keep jumping like that you will break something” then if you happen to break something “Why do you have to ruin everything?”
Other examples come from a parent making a deal with a child they don’t intend on seeing through. Perhaps something said in the moment “if you play quietly and let mummy work, I’ll take you out to the park this afternoon” The afternoon comes and the child asks when they are going. The parent says “I didn’t promise I would take you” if the child then protests, the answer is “Don’t make things up, no one likes a liar”
Whilst most parents would be shocked if they understood the implications these few small things have on a child, they are probably guilty of them and a few more. This doesn’t mean you were abused as a child, but it is a good way of looking at why you react to certain situations the way you do, as an adult.
There are ways of turning this around. Firstly you need to remember that you are no better or worse than any other person. No one has the right to hit you, no one has the right to tell you you ruin things, no one has the right to call you a liar. If you have heard something and truly believed in it, then defending what you heard is not lying. It is merely your perception of someone else’s words.
As silly as it sounds, exercise is a great place to start rebuilding your confidence. From a simple walk to something more intense, we can work out a lot of our inner confusions whilst increasing the feel good hormones that a workout can give us. Mix up how you do this. From using yoga to increase your awareness and find ways of connecting with your body, to finding max workouts that work to get your heart pumping and help you lose weight. If you can focus on lifting your self esteem through exercise then you will soon realize there are very few areas in your life you don’t control. If you work hard, believe in yourself then you can achieve anything.
It may also help to address any issues with your parents. Hearing from them that they didn’t mean you were less important than a sibling, or you were always in the wrong, might ease a few demons you have been carrying. If that doesn’t work then talking to someone else might. Sometimes you may feel silly talking to your parents as they were terribly loving and you don’t want to hurt them, so talking through some of the small things that happened which have really made you question yourself, could be a passive way of working them through.
You don’t need to feel you are less of a human or less capable than anyone else. We are all the same when you strip us back to basics. Just a simple mess of bones and blood. There is no one on earth who has more rights than you. That simply isn’t how things work.
Take care of yourself and learn to let go of other people’s negativity. Most of the time they are just reflecting their own lack of confidence on you, such as their fears of failure or rejection. Don’t let that affect you in your adult life. Get to grips with it today and move forward in a positive and healthy way. Remember who you are and that you are capable of achieving anything you desire if you work hard.
But most of all remember to be happy. You deserve it.