Dec
30

Self Esteem ~ How did YOU Learn YOUR Importance?

By

High Self Esteem and Self Value
Beautiful Self Esteem

I was raised to believe that I had less importance than the adults in my life. At first glance that may sit okay with most people. Perhaps it feels “right” and “logical”. Perhaps I had no reason to believe otherwise in the first place.  As children we are not born with truth filters. We learn what we are taught is the truth. We accept what is modeled to us AS truth.  But the truth we are taught is often false truth. 

Emerging from Broken is largely about how I uncovered that false truth and re wired my brain to understand and accept the true truth.

It felt right and even logical to accept that adults were more important than I was when I thought about it the way that I believed “importance was measured.” I was a child; a dependent child. I believed that the adults were important because they provided. They brought home the food and until I was a young teen, they cooked it. Adults provided me with clothing and shelter. They sent me to school where other important adults taught me what I needed to learn in order for me to become an adult myself.  Adults met my physical needs and in many ways they had all the power; both good and bad. Looking at it that way, I could easily agree that I did not have as much importance as the adults in my life. I was just a needy child. I had nothing to contribute yet.

I think that the way the child views their importance in the family dynamic depends on HOW the whole importance thing gets communicated to the children. In some families, the children are the centre; they are the joy in the family. They are the jewels and the treasure. In some families, everything a child does is amazing. Children are indeed the future in some families.  But that was not my family.

If I change the word “importance” to the word “value” we get a whole other understanding of this subject matter. 

If a child has been raised to feel as though they have less value then the adults who are providing for them, or if it communicated in any way to the child that they are somehow a burden to those adults and if that child learns he or she must fight to PROVE they deserve to live or deserve to be taken care of in any way, that child will grow up with negative and false beliefs about their own value. Children learn their value by the way it is communicated to them.

Eventually the child is expected to have self esteem and if they don’t there are a whole new set of labels assigned to them. BUT where do they get the self esteem and self value from in the first place? And if the adults in their lives fail to instill that sense of value in a childs life HOW does a grown up child change that misunderstanding? I tried affirmations and positive self talk for YEARS, without success until I discovered the foundation of my self esteem, and changed the lies that lived there.

How was your importance communicated to you? That will be a clue about your belief system about yourself and your self esteem formation.

Reverence, respect, obligation to the adults; that was what I thought love was.  I lived in the spin of having to try harder. Obligation, obedience, compliance, respect for disrespectful people; this is not real love, but it is the definition of love that I was taught. It was the definition of love that I grew up with and it was all I knew. I was controlled by trying harder to be good enough; never the right gift, something wrong with the food, not saying the right thing. I didn’t dress “right” I was too fat, too thin, and my hair was too long, too short or looked better up or down.  I was called (labeled as) stupid, insensitive, selfish, cold hearted, a drama queen, too quiet and sullen, and yet also told that I talked to hear myself talk. I spun round and round in the spin of trying harder to be acceptable to people who behaved in an unacceptable way, never realizing that some of these accusations were contradictive.  I questioned myself for years about what was wrong with me. The only time I questioned what was wrong with these adults was in order for me to understand and forgive their transgressions against me. Always about them, never about me because I always viewed them through the belief that they were more important than I was.

I never noticed that the spin of “not good enough” was about the ones who labeled me that way and not really the truth about ME or my value in the first place.  

I was discounting myself in order to prove that I acknowledged their importance, which (to them) was always ABOVE mine.  

The spin of having to try harder was about restoring THEM and making them feel good enough by repeatedly forcing me to change; forcing me to change myself and my actions all the time as though if I jumped through their hoops, complying with what they wanted from me, it would prove THEIR power and therefore their value. As you can see looking at it this way, this system has nothing to do with real love however again… this is what I was taught about love.

I “heard” all my life that everyone ~ all human beings and all God’s people are created equally ~ however this was not anything close to the truth about what was “taught” to me. It was not the example of truth that was modeled to me. Therefore I didn’t live in the truth about equal value and healthy self esteem that I live in today. I had to understand what I did learn, realize that what I learned was wrong and then relearn the real truth.  This was where I was able to overcome my low self esteem. This is the foundation of my freedom and wholeness. This is my wish for all other people. This is my purpose in writing Emerging from Broken.

This is my final post for 2011~ what a fantastic year it has been for me and for Emerging from Broken.  I appreciate each of you and wish you all a fantastic 2012!

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Darlene Ouimet      

For related posts please visit the highlighted words in bold throughout this article.     

Categories : Self Esteem

23 Comments

1

Wow! It’s as if you climbed inside my head and wrote my thoughts about how I was brought up. It’s so weird… Your blog has helped me to understand why it is I’m screwed up. Thank you for putting into wourds what I couldn’t. Be blessed – especially in 2012.

2

Darlene,

Thank you for all you do and for providing a forum where we can speak freely and process our pasts. I apprecaite this so much.

I grew up feeling like I was the family embarrassment and though I am not certain what started it, I sure felt it heavily. And you are right, it made no difference what hoop I jumped through, it was never good enough. There seemed to be a different set of rules for me than for my brother and sister as well.

I guess I’ve always been a rebel at heart because once I figured out there was no winning with my family, I stopped trying. Of course that was met with rage on their part. It finally took breaking all contact though to fully see things as they truly were and are. I’ve always had sone sense of worth because the things I set out to accomplish, I did for myself and not them. Your site has helped me lay down the guilt associated with the decisions I have made (as a rebel) and further helped me see there is no changing them. I can only change me.

Thank you for that.
God bless and Happy New Year.
Jen

3

Happy New Year, Darlene and I want to chime in and say thank you for all you do here. I know it is a heavy burden sometimes but you really are making a difference.

My lack of self worth was taught as much by what my parents didn’t do as what they did do. I thought I was bad,not worth paying attention to, and my only value was in how I pleased others. Then I was told that I had no self respect. Somehow, I was just defective and needed to be someone else. It is a wonderful experience to be able to accept myself as myself. You’ve played a big part in that.

Love,
Pam

4

Hi Dominique
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I am glad that you are here and that this resonates with you! Knowing why I was “screwed up” helped me to get unscrewed up!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jen
I think that happens lots too ~ the rebel response. My brother seemed to be that way too. I always say that if you are going to have to do the time anyway, might as well have some fun. (that was my big talk in the past lol… I was not a big rebel although my mother might tell you differently.) About the different set of rules, I think that is about which kid is controlled easiest which way.
I am really happy to hear that you are relating this stuff to fit YOUR experience. It was that bottom line (that this could be applied to anyone) that made me decide to write in the beginning.
Hugs, Darlene

5

Hi Pam
You are welcome and Thank you for all you do here too Pam! Thank you for validating that I am making a difference.
I agree; my lack of self worth was also taught to me by what was done/said and not done/not said to me. That is sometimes the hardest part of figureing all this out. The message that I got often came from non verbal communication too.
It is SO wonderful to be myself and even better to accept myself!
So glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

6

Hi Darlene, I want to thank you so much for as I read your writings you fulfill my thoughts that have been buried inside along with my feelings. You are so articulate and make it so easy to understand and connect the feelings with how we were treated, what we had to watch and hear and what we were taught. I wanted to tell you that since I started visiting your site that this is the first time I see hope in growing, changing and opening up to let the scared little girl out (at 53 yrs old). I don’t have much self esteem but as I read you give me the inspiration to want to teach myself or reparent myselt to give myself the gift of self esteem. I really haven’t had or found models to ecourage or teach me everything I felt I missed out on growing up but I now know you are here for me and I now have a new beginning. I pray that God continues to bless you for this new year.
Yours very sincerely,

Cheri

7

Hello Darlene,
Thank you for the site you’ve created and work so hard to keep relevant for all of us out here.

If it weren’t for the input I’ve received from all your posts and the caring you’ve shown, I don’t think I could have gotten the insight or courage to help myself. I’m in therapy and I’m hoping to be more strong, confident and secure as time goes on.

Thank you again,
Connie

8

Hi Darlene,

This is SO WEIRD!!!! Before coming to your site just now, I couldn’t sleep and got up to jot this down in my journal:

“I was TAUGHT to put other people’s needs and wants ahead of my own.

I can unlearn this.”

Then I read what you wrote. WOW!

Thanks again for you laser-sharp insight. Your site is a great gift for many.

May 2012 be a year of positive change for everyone!!! 🙂

9

Hi Cheri
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I am so happy that my website articles resonate with you. Thank you for your compliments. It is possible to re-parent and re learn and rewire our self esteem. I am living proof of that!
I look forward to your future comments.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Connie
Thank you for your lovely note and compliments. I appreciate your being here too
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Brenda
Wow, that is kind of cool! Thank you for sharing this. YES you can UNLEARN it. That is exactly what I did!
~I had a profound thought last night that I wanted to write about and instead of writing it down, I thought to myself ~ “I will NEVER forget that thought” and I went to sleep. This morning I wonder what it was! LOL
Hugs, Darlene

10

I have to come back later and read this. What has happened in my family this Christmas is really not new or unusual. It lead me to five days of crying and isolation as I struggled with the knowledge that I didn’t trust my instincts. I had planned to stay away from my family on Christmas day. I even went to the point of telling my son that I wasn’t going and when he told me he would stay with me we talked about doing something simple but special we could do together to enjoy a stress free holiday.
I allowed my guilt to get the best of me. I told myself that my Mother would suffer if I didn’t go to the family get together. I arrange a game very year for Christmas that takes me much time to assemble that involves up to seventy gifts. I told myself that it would be fun and that it would keep me distracted. Nothing bad would happen to me I reasoned, I would be too busy.
So I fooled myself. I wanted to look “normal”. I wandered around trying to avoid the children because I didn’t want them to see the anxiety that radiated out of me. My sister-in-law noticed that I wasn’t doing well and asked me if I was okay. During the game obnoxious invectives were hurled at me as I called numbers. The coup de grâce: members of my family threw garbage at me and humiliated me as I cleaned up after the game I took months to prepare for for them.
I chided myself for crying for so long after Christmas, asked myself “What did you expect?” I told myself: “I told you so!” I spent days talking myself down from a suicidal ledge. I should have known better. Luckily my sons both talked to me and let me express myself and helped me find my center. They’d seen this kind of thing happen in the past. They told me it wasn’t me and that I had reason to be so upset. My eldest even went on to tell me that this year I had gotten through the holiday hangover much faster than I had before and with the realization of what actually happened instead of blaming it all on myself.
The result: I told my Mother I won’t be spending holidays with the family any more. It hurts me too much and I don’t deserve the degradation. I told my sister even and got the expected: “Well everyone gets picked on!” response. I had enough courage to tell her that NOONE deserves to be picked on and that if I had done that to her I was sorry. She had shared that something had happened to her at Thanksgiving. I couldn’t remember. It wasn’t perfect but at least it was communication.
I want to end the victimization. I wanted to unite the family. I can only work on myself. So I will make my life as happy as possible. I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but my own.
Just the beginning of this post triggered pain. I will read the rest when I am a little further away from the rawness of this holiday’s damage. I hope your New Year is a happy peaceful one filled with good health and many friends, Darlene Ouimet. Reading your posts can be painful for me at times but it has helped me identify many feelings and issues I never could reach. Thank You.
A

11

Hi BiPolar Bear
Sounds like you had nasty day there! But on the bright side, perhaps that is what it took for you to come to the decision that enough is enough! It was something like this that triggered my final decision to say NO to all dysfunction in my own family. I finally gave up on fixing everything and defending myself and there I found my freedom and recovery. I understand this post being hard to read. please feel free to comment again when you return.
Hugs, Darlene

12

I’ve said “no!” so many times before Darlene. I am really working hard to not slip back into old habits because of destructive beliefs or loneliness or wanting to save someone else. I am working on it. Your posts are very important in my life. I am able to relate to almost every one that I have read. I have had pain so it does not scare me to hurt from the truth. I am more afraid of not growing from learning and healing myself. Are you in the middle of the family that taught you these faulty beliefs and support them? I am right now. I don’t think they are bad people, I just think that they could stand to think twice before they repeat the past again and again. I talk to them as much as I can. On the one hand I would like our family to be united. On the other hand I must make sure that their dysfunctional actions do not keep me unhealthy. I am actually looking to move out of my childhood home. The memories this place brings are damaging to my mental wellness. Thank you for responding to my comment. I seek your posts on my wall. It is a cool salve to my soul that you are so eloquent and able to express your healing path through these abuse issues. Thank you and…
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?[???H??][???A??][???P??][???P??][???Y??]?[???N??][???E??][???W??]?[???Y??][???E??][???A??][???R??]?

Thank you for being here for so many people that need to hear the things you write.
A

13

I’ve said “no!” so many times before Darlene. I am really working hard to not slip back into old habits because of destructive beliefs or loneliness or wanting to save someone else. I am working on it. Your posts are very important in my life. I am able to relate to almost every one that I have read. I have had pain so it does not scare me to hurt from the truth. I am more afraid of not growing from learning and healing myself. Are you in the middle of the family that taught you these faulty beliefs and support them? I am right now. I don’t think they are bad people, I just think that they could stand to think twice before they repeat the past again and again. I talk to them as much as I can. On the one hand I would like our family to be united. On the other hand I must make sure that their dysfunctional actions do not keep me unhealthy. I am actually looking to move out of my childhood home. The memories this place brings are damaging to my mental wellness. Thank you for responding to my comment. I seek your posts on my wall. It is a cool salve to my soul that you are so eloquent and able to express your healing path through these abuse issues. Thank you and…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thank you for being here for so many people that need to hear the things you write.
A

14

[…] have just as much importance as any other human being on this planet and that includes the presidents, movie stars, doctors, […]

15

Bipolar Bear
My family doesn’t talk to me. I set my boundaries (asked for respect) and they walked away. I stuck to my boundaries, and it has resulted in no contact however I have never been happier in my life. It scared me a lot, and many times I almost ran back and said “sorry” but realized that I would be saying sorry for valuing me and sorry for not accepting abuse from them. I couldn’t do it anymore.
Thank you for your comments and for validating this work that I am doing here.
Hugs, Darlene

16

My sisters and I have always sort of been brainwashed by our mother. We always knew to protect her from our feelings, no matter what they were. My father left when I was 11, so it was just my sisters and our mom for a long time (well, except for her disgusting boyfriend who’s now been her husband for 20 years). Anyhow, my mother had FULL reign and a total freedom in dictating, brainwashing, and enforcing the belief that she was number one in all circumstances, feelings, and beliefs. It was known that she does not take part in physical labor of any kind, however, I started detassling corn at 12, mowing yards, etc for money. I think it was okay to do that. I don’t think it was okay to send a message that she was above that type of thing, but we weren’t. Now that she’s nearly 70 (and in amazing health), we have caught onto her schemes. But, it still tugs at me if/when she cries because she feels she’s “lost” her kids/wonders why we’ve withdrawn from her. Just yesterday she sent an email asking why I didn’t come for xmas although I told her back in September. She concluded from all the people I did see, that it was her that I was avoiding. I don’t know how to handle the email. It was gushy. If I tell her the truth, she will either respond with rage, or coil up into fetal position. I suppose that’s her problem, not mine. But, the big topping to that is the guilt she slathers on. Clearly, I’m not at the end of my progress. But, I can say, I’m IN progress. Thanks Darlene, for this post, and all you do for us.
Love,
Mimi

17

Mimi
Looking back I totally understand why I was afraid to tell my mother the truth. There were many reasons. BUT when I no longer cared about her reactions, and no longer cared if she agreed with me or not ~ that was when I was free of the whole dysfunctional system. My mother can not use guilt against me anymore, because I don’t take it. It is like water off a ducks back to me. My mother was so “fragile” that I was afraid saying anything to her would kill her. But the truth was that she has always been killing me. So finally I picked me.
Thanks for sharing,
Love, Darlene

18

You just put into words what I’ve tried to do for so long now. I’m 51.

19

Hi Jenni
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I am glad this resonated with you!
Hugs, Darlene

20

“How was your importance communicated to you? That will be a clue about your belief system about yourself and your self esteem formation”

Doing well in school / being “gifted/intelligent” is the first one I remember.

Being “good” is another one. Not swearing etc. “Obeying” was probably right up there; tied in with respect for elders etc.

Playing piano. Going to church/sunday school etc.

I was so terrified all during school of getting into trouble and my parents finding out the “truth” about me (nothing too drastic, apart from occasional bullying episodes). But I was terrified of ever being anything but the “good boy” in school (or anywhere, really) who was respectful to a ridiculous degree. (Sucking up, it could probably be called)

I still can’t remember this being specifically pushed, but I can’t remember not having the belief about “real” jobs (ie white collar) and having to “use” my intelligence etc.

Around mid-teens I kinda transferred a bunch of the power from my parents to the church I attended at the time. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t do me any favors. I became the worst kind of judgmental “holier-than-thou” *$&#&^@ and suppressed everything out of fear of… well, god I guess, which at that time I probably roughly equated to the church & its leaders. Held on to the identity of being the “good” youth group member (and briefly leader) who didn’t drink, was liked by adults/parents etc, and was trusted.

As I got a bit older and joined some “christian” bands, I guess I again transferred a bunch of the power/control to the slightly older (and I assumed wiser/holier etc) than me band members. This was a strange experience too. I can still remember the pastor of the church saying as an aside one time how I was one of their people “out on ministry”. He was the sort of person who’d make you seem like the only person in the world the first time he spoke to you, but would then only talk to you to ask why my parents weren’t coming to church (or me when I was playing in the band). Other than that don’t remember much interest from him at all (until I joined a popular band). It really gave me the s**ts him trying to “claim” me for his glory when he’d barely talk to me otherwise.

The next transfer was during the band years with my first serious relationship (and my 2nd, which intermingled somewhat – my doing). Anyway between those 2, that basically accounted for my 20’s. Then my musical partner scored a bunch of power/control. Had a couple of missed calls from them last few days after no contact for months. Can’t be f**ked opening that back up right now.

This is an intriguing concept to me (following the “transfer of power” so to speak — haven’t really thought of it in that way before; just kinda came out as I was writing). Have to give it some more thought sometime when my brain isn’t so hazy.

21

[…] ~And I constantly questioned why I had such low self esteem. […]

22

[…] authority in some situations, we do not suddenly reach a certain age or status which gives us more value than someone else […]

23

This is me and I’m just now realizing how much it still effects me. Good to know that God sees me in a different light!

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