How childhood can impact on confidence

Initially we learn to value ourselves, or not, through our childhood experiences. If we are treated well, and those experiences leave us believing we are loved and valued, we see ourselves as being worthy of love. In this situation we learn to love ourselves.

The opposite holds that if we are neglected or abused we see ourselves as unworthy. We then learn to dislike ourselves.

Other childhood experiences can affect our self confidence. If a child only receives love or attention when successful – such as getting top marks in class, they will strive towards perfectionism in adulthood.

If other behaviors are also similarly rewarded – such as looking after younger siblings – there is also a knock on effect on how they later perceive themselves (“I am only worthwhile if I look after others/please others”) and subsequently act (don’t see themselves as worthwhile, put the needs of others above their own.

Whilst I made reference to abuse and neglect above, it doesn’t take such extremes to have an impact. As parents we are not aware at how much negativity and “conditional” love we impose on our children. There are many adults who did not suffer abuse or neglect, but constantly undermine their self confidence by striving for perfectionism, worrying about what others think, seeking approval or by having other forms of rigid thinking. Fortunately these things can be changed.

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