Harsh Inner Critic
Adult Children of Alcoholics, Addicts, & Dysfunctional Families
Trait #11: "We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem"
“Who could have his home burglarized and feel like he or she did something wrong? An adult child. Who could feel guilty about asking a cashier to correct a mistake when the cashier handed back incorrect change? An adult child. Before recovery, most adult children assume they are wrong whatever the situation might be. If a mistake is made on the job, the adult child takes repsonsibility for it. If someone feels upset, we think we might have done something to cause the feelings in another. On the flip side we can blame others and avoid taking responsibility for our errors or poor behavior. We can judge ourselves harshly and place blame on ourselves and others willingly when such blame is not necessary.
Because of our shaming childhoods, adult children doubt and blame themselves in a knee-jerk reaction that is predictable and consistent yet rarely observed until recovery is encountered. We react instead of thinking about options and then acting.
The guilty feelings we encounter when standing up for ourselves have their roots in not being allowed to ask for what we needed as children. Judging ourselves harshly comes from abusive and hypercritical parents. As children, we went without basic needs or praise. We were vulnerable children, but we were shamed when we expressed a legitimate need. "You are so selfish," our parents said. "Do you ever think of anyone else but yourself? Do you think I am made of money?"
As adults, we remember such interactions with our parents. We refeel the pain of being dismissed or shamed when speaking up for a want or need. As adults, many of us avoid asking for what we need to avoid old pain. Others manipulate to get what they think they want. They are unhappy a lot. Even when we get what we think we want, we realize it is not enough again."
- ACA Big Red Book, pgs.15
Do you relate to this trait? As a therapist specializing in Adult Children of Alcoholics, we will work together to discover the roots of maladaptive coping patterns, fears, insecurities, trauma, and shame. Help, hope, and healing are possible!
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