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Low Self-Esteem Picked-Up in Childhood

Updated on September 25, 2018
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.

When Each Step in Life Feels like a Big Test That We Are Bound to Fail---Something's Wrong with Our Self-Esteem
When Each Step in Life Feels like a Big Test That We Are Bound to Fail---Something's Wrong with Our Self-Esteem

Those Downplayed Good Intentions

"Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast, and each will wrestle for the mastery there". ---- Wolfgang von Goethe

We often hear how those first seven-or-so years are the most crucial in the development of our emotional inner world---which includes the way we feel about our own worth.

While I would gladly take it as a rule, when it's about human nature there are no rules without exceptions. I have personally seen individuals who had a well protected, supported, and in every sense a promising childhood---only for them to turn later in life into traumatized and self-hating people.

That quite possibly due to that very comfortable childhood which didn't make them ready for some rude realities of adulthood.

In a reverse sense, I have also met folks---well, myself being one---who had a crappy childhood to unfold into something that almost doesn't exist as the developmental probability of those smart psychology textbooks.

However, while I couldn't just skip mentioning those exceptions, we are not about to talk about them, but rather about that majority of folks whose self-esteem got a sort of crippled early in life. As we are going to see, that resulted with a life long unconscious self-sabotage, a spell of a heavy stage fright in their self-scripted drama of life.

It is not that such folks have no spirit to plan some positive changes---but they are usually of intensity and duration of those new year's resolutions which fade away together with the short-lived inspiration, run down by the stampede of self-doubt generated by their lack of self-esteem.

Somewhere in the unexplored, buried, and almost unreachable depths of their wounded souls, there is that matter of "not deserving".

That "Good for Nothing" Casual Remark May Have Turned into a Life Long Verdict
That "Good for Nothing" Casual Remark May Have Turned into a Life Long Verdict

The Truth Behind Those Belittling Remarks

"Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks" ---- Shannon L. Alder

This could be a good time to learn something about our parents' belittling remarks. Did you know that we generally treat out children, even our pets the same way that we are treating our inner child?

When we act over-demanding and critical towards that kid in ourselves, we tend to project that treatment onto those who by their appearance remind us the most of him or her inside.

Look how many parents are pushing their kids into some exhausting training, or playing an instrument, or qualifying for a beauty pageant, or excelling in education---just to fulfill their own missed ambitions.

Thus, when our parents were being too critical, or "mean", or ridiculing towards us, that didn't mean that we were the ones who "deserved" it---but they were mistreating their own inner child and only projecting it onto us.

Of course, they didn't know what they were doing, it all came so spontaneous and somehow "necessary" and unconsciously generated, that they were not aware about their doing it to us while doing it to themselves.

Ironically, they might have even thought how "that was for our own good".

Catch That Little Demon at Work
Catch That Little Demon at Work

That Little Demon in Us

"Why is it that we don't worry about a compass until we're lost in a wilderness of our own making?" ---- Craig D. Lounsbrough

Like a little playful demon in us is this voice of a spoiler that makes us settle for less. So we pick a wrong line of vocation---while deep down intuiting that "we are capable of something better".

And we surround ourselves with friends who seem to compete in getting on our nerves. The car we buy turns out to be a lemon, and we agree to pay too much for that house, just because that nice couple really seemed to be in a need to sell it fast.

"I know, I should have married John, not Steve, but don't ask me why I didn't, because I don't know it myself". Sounds familiar? So often, it's like we are under a spell to do exactly the opposite from what was in our best interests.

There seems to be that invisible sabotaging little demon lurking from the dark corners of our soul and throwing sticks into our gears, making us settle for whatever seems to be a good idea at the time---which just happens to be a wrong one.

It feels like the season is never over for people taking us for a ride. Why? "because we were not born under a lucky star"---say we with a shrug, believing in it too.

Cramming Our Minds with too Many Things Saps Our Energy and Downgrades Our Spirit for Success
Cramming Our Minds with too Many Things Saps Our Energy and Downgrades Our Spirit for Success

Inner Conflict of Tendencies

"Once you embrace your value, talents, and strengths, it neutralizes when others think less of you." ---- Rob Liano

Maybe it's time for us to ask that uncomfortable question : "What do we really have against ourselves---and who back there inspired us for it". There is obviously an inner "spoiler" hidden in our emotional makeup; so every time "one-in-us" goes hot about something or someone, the "other-in-us" does its very best to thwart it somehow, making us constantly to take a back seat.

Now, now, it's only a figure of speech, and I didn't really mean anything like a "split personality". And neither was I suggesting that we seek services of an exorcist to kick some demons' asses out of us.

It's all just an inner conflict of tendencies caused by an early childhood bug implanted into our little impressionable heads with those words : "You are good for nothing"---or anything along those lines. You pick the version that rings the bell for you.

Well, believe it or not, folks like that are actually scared of a possibility that they might succeed. I know it sounds silly, but that's how it all gets computed subconsciously, so their is always a finale of "aborting every mission" before it turns into a success.

Why? Because the prophecy of their parents has to be fulfilled. You see, they can't emotionally afford to make wrong those on whom their little life was depending. It's like that little demon's voice in them is producing a logic of "success being wrong for their survival".

There Was a Time When We Felt So Secure. Let's Continue Where We Left It Back There!
There Was a Time When We Felt So Secure. Let's Continue Where We Left It Back There!

Getting Unstuck

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself." ---- Jane Eyre

Now, is it possible to get unstuck from that childhood spell? Of course it is, and it's definitely much easier than our shrink would want us to believe. Indeed, if it was up to him, we would be stuck re-examining our age of pre-toilet training to find out why we peed into diapers.

Some things we simply outgrow, and so we can outgrow those counterproductive remarks from our parents about our value. Some ninety percent of success in yanking ourselves out of that spell is in the simple realization about the true nature of their prediction.

We have to start seeing it as nothing more than our diapers that we outgrew. Just like there is no need for us to "struggle" with a tendency to wear diapers, it's also nonsensical to fight against our parents' discouraging predictions.

After all, we don't agree in some other matters with our aging parents---so why would we hold on that one?

Also, not only that we shouldn't believe in reasoning of our parents with everything they ever said---we shouldn't believe in the reasoning of that impressionable little kid that we were.

Detaching our minds from all of our earlier stages of maturing often produces magic of inner freedom. It takes nothing but a little conscious resolve not to emotionally slave anymore to our previous selves, that toddler, that school kid, that teenager...well it's up to us at which age we start trusting our reasoning.

Like a plane pilot would tell you, "an airborne plane is 99% of the time off its course". And so is our life. We cheated ourselves into a low self-esteem, but here---we are still breathing, and now we are only one deep liberating breath away from realizing how great person we really are.

Never Too Late to Start Celebrating Our New-Found Worthiness
Never Too Late to Start Celebrating Our New-Found Worthiness

Paying a Forgotten Debt to Our Life

"Dare to love yourself, as if you are a rainbow with gold at both ends." ---- Aberjhani

There is so much fun that we owe to our life!

So much gutsy exploring of opportunities which will all become obvious once that we are willing to see them. So, let's dress up for success, go places, surprise everybody who knows us with a brand new-ourselves!

Let's enjoy this new-found freedom and tear down the cobweb of reluctance and self-doubt! Let's blow the dust off our self-esteem and polish it until it shines! Of course, you can choose to see all this as a pep-talk, but really, how can a genuine encouragement and support look different, if it has to use the same words.

The moment you start doubting, ask yourself "what in you" is doing that doubting, and grow beyond it. You may be one of those many who owe it to their life---to once and for all break loose from that inner spell. And if you are---you are not alone.

Can you imagine how different the whole world would be if everybody was thinking highly of themselves? Well, we don't have to wait until this personal liberation becomes a trend.

Now is the time. If not now---when?


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    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      John - In my opinion, the craze of the electronic devices is a matter of de-personalization of socializing and generally human contacts. I-pod and cell phone are "friends and teachers without faces", which allow us to feel relaxed and safe and powerful with that one finger which can remove them any time we wish.

      And we don't have to act, speak, show any emotion, because texting is so impersonal and robotic. You may see two kids sitting beside each other and text, instead of talking.

      Is it "bad"? We don't know, John. Humans are evolving rapidly these last decades, and maybe our kind of communicating, using handwriting, being more emotional over our games and interacting has to change.

      Maybe people of new generations will be less emotional, or reduce emotionalism to only some forms of interacting. I don't know, but I am not willing to jump the gun and call it "bad". After all, we were quite different than our old folks, weren't we?

      As for politicians, maybe newer generations will also outgrow these animalistic tendencies of greed for power - as a part of this reduced emotionalism which is to keep our brain's amygdala "cooler" and less in use. Maybe some day they will have only something like "public officials" doing their job, who will get fired like anyone else if they are not working for the benefit of everyone.

      Who knows, but I do have such feeling that our grandkids, or their kids will be too "cool" to bother with the crazy power-race what we are having today, plus this neurotic retaliationism dragging its tail since before WW2. Who knows, John. If you ask me, yes, these kids look strange, but maybe they are announcing a new era and we can't recognize it.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      So many truths within your words, Val. Why can't more of us see the truth? We do seem to find every obstacle possible to help us in our striving to fail. Where do we lay the blame on our young people today, is it us, the parents and grandparents who allow them to spend all their time using electronic gadgets, smartphones, games machines etc. In fact, many of the older generation are now embracing those things themselves. Or is it the fault of our leaders and politicians who shape our values and societies?

      I know my own grandchildren are given iPads etc at around three years of age to entertain them and act as almost robot babysitters. The parents argument is that they are educational. In my childhood going outside, exploring, interacting with other children, using your imagination to play physical games, etc was educational.

      Yes, why do we continually complain about the politicians and political parties in power, and the majority of us vote for them, again? I don't trust any political party to do the right thing by the majority of the people. Sometimes an individual politician may have good morals and an intent to make the world a better place, but as soon as they become part of a party they need to toe the line, and their ethics and morals fade into the background if not disappearing altogether.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Reynold - I was born and raised in a communist regime, and that's where I developed my political cynicism - I don't trust politicians. To me they are a bunch of careerists catering to those richest and most influential. Governments lie, or they keep most of their secret works "classified" - under one or another excuse. I have no education to understand economy, and I am only economizing with my own vital and nervous energy, meaning that - what I can't change - I won't lose a nerve over it.

      Kids are still having a royal life comparing to us baby-boomers, especially us who had to emigrate and adjust to a whole different world. I wish the world was less greedy and arrogant, but again, my love for mankind doesn't go that far that I would suffer because of human stupidity.

      I certainly agree with your thoughts, Reynold. Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do about it but be upset.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      2 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Yes-to all you say above!!!! The kids have little understanding of the world they are born into. For example tuition was $45 per semester:"Take all the classes you wish" and used textbooks were $10. The government got involved and offered the 1.1 Trillion in loans and now the poor kids start $100, 000 or so in the hole and can't find a job. It need not be that way with proper leaders. All the colleges around here love the money and are busy building $6 million dollar buildings every year.

      My thought is that politian's should be required to take a curse in economics!

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Reynold - I absolutely agree. Would you also contend that these are the times of different family values, with parents being too busy with their lives and letting the kids find their own world in these electronic gadgets?

      After all, we know that kids are not "born" this or that way - we make them as they are, or we allow the street to make them that way. When we fail to be the first and most trusted friends to our kids, they don't bother looking further for "parental figures" in political leaders, they just don't care, as long as someone is providing for them.

      Then that attitude stretches into their thirties, as they never learned to cut that umbilical cord.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Lela - You got it. The question remains whether we should hold responsible all those who are selling us snake oil, or ourselves for buying the crap. As long as there is a market, there will be an ample supply of crap in all garden varieties, from religious to political to family, feel welcome to name any others.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      2 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Lots of good rational thoughts in this one. I ( a senior) calculate that the younger individuals are born into a world with all these gadgets, poor economy etc. and simply do not understand that it could be very different with proper leaders. It never occurs to them that they could do well without cell phones, etc. Now the norm is to live with parents well into their 30's ...Yep--that is how it is done... Oh well!!!

    • Austinstar profile image


      2 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      My theory is that not only are we scared of success, we feel like we don't deserve success because most of us are programmed (indoctrinated) from birth to believe we are born sinners and we must atone for these alleged sins for our entire life.

      Guess where this notion comes from?

      Once a person throws off the yoke of self punishment or religion, they can accomplish anything!


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