Do you still believe what your alcoholic parent told you as a child?

child of an alcoholic_Jo huey_author

Do you still believe what your alcoholic parent told you as a child? You may not have even thought about it. 

As a child you look up to your parents, they’re the “giants” in your life, the all knowing powerful adults that guide you. They’re the ones that know how you can look after yourself. They support you and tell you how amazing you are. Don’t they?

They may not be the experiences you’ve had as the child of an alcoholic, it depends on your unique circumstances. Sometimes the sober parent can be protective and supportive. This doesn’t happen when both parents are drinking or if one parent isn’t a good role model. 

What did you hear?

I remember some of the things that my Mum and Dad said to me, my Dad was the drinker but actually on reflection some of the things my Mum said (or didn’t say) had a profound negative impact on me. 

Dad would say “when are you going to change” or “you’re so rude”, sometimes it wasn’t always said but implied. The feelings I had were that I wasn’t OK. When I aimed to do something positive to impress my Dad, he always seemed disappointed. What I did wasn’t good enough. 

Do you still believe what your alcoholic parent told you as a child?

Parents can say all sorts of things and often we don’t know to question them, they’re the ones that hold all the cards. When we hear negative messages frequently enough and over a period of time we believe them. Who are we to question them, we trust that what they say is right and true.

People’s traits and behaviours get passed on

What’s important to remember is that all humans are imperfect, we carry forward all the issues from our parents and experiences. So if a parent has got insecurities and low self-esteem that can manifest in how they speak to their children. Your parent may have had mental health issues, which may not have been diagnosed.

That doesn’t mean they don’t/didn’t exist!

Some parents tell you that you aren’t good enough, or that you’ll not amount to anything. They may have told you to always put others before yourself. Whatever it is, that was then and you don’t have to carry on believing it now.

What I learnt is that not everything our parents told us was true. 

What would I suggest to help you re-evaluate the messages you’ve heard?

  • Make a list of all the negative messages you tell yourself now, in the present
  • Look at your list and ask yourself “is this from my childhood or now”?
  • If it’s from your childhood, whose message was it?
  • Do you still want to believe this message?
  • With your list, I want you to flip what messages you still hear to the positive opposite
    • for example: “you aren’t good enough to do that” becomes “you can do whatever you want”
  • Visualise yourself and pick one of your positive messages, do whatever you need to do to the image to make it vivid. You may need to increase colours, make it closer to you, bigger, brighter, whatever you need just do it!

There is no “right” positive opposite, it’s whatever will help you feel good in the now. This will vary for each person.  Of course you need to repeat these positive messages, like affirmations. 

Put them up somewhere you’ll see them, not in a cupboard you never open. In a wallet, in your car or whatever works. The only reason the old messages are still affecting you now, is because you haven’t created new ones. Your mind is powerful. 

Working towards compassion to those that have hurt us is the best thing to do, if you want to free yourself from all the hurt it causes. They haven’t done it on purpose, but it doesn’t change the impact it’s had. 

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