If you grew up with highly critical parents, you might still hear their voices in your head every time you make a mistake. Maybe your parents held you to a high standard because they wanted you to learn the value of hard work and reach your full potential. But you never felt like you were good enough, even when you accomplished things that most people would be proud of.

Perhaps your parents simply criticized you for no discernible reason. Today, you can’t help but berate yourself frequently. If you were raised by highly critical parents, here are a few ways this approach to parenting might be affecting you well into adulthood.

Tough Inner Critic

When you grow up with parents who are quick to criticize you, it’s easy to see why you’re susceptible to developing a tough inner critic. In fact, that inner critic’s voice might sound a lot like your parents. If you make even a minor mistake, you start criticizing yourself.

Getting nervous during a job interview, responding to an email late, or getting lost while driving somewhere new could all lead you to criticize yourself. You feel like you can’t let yourself off the hook. Worst of all, if you slip up, you immediately feel guilty.

Perfectionist Tendencies

In all aspects of your life, you hold yourself to an unrealistic standard. Whether you’re in college, the workforce, or a stay-at-home parent, you expect perfection from yourself at all times. “Good” isn’t enough.

You worry that if you’re not “perfect” in some respect, everything you’ve worked for will start to slip away. If any of your friends reach an important milestone before you, it sets off a negative thought spiral. You wonder where you went wrong, or why you’re “falling behind.”

Criticizing Others

Some people who develop tough inner critics and perfectionist tendencies as a result of growing up with highly critical parents end up externalizing that criticism. They hold other people in their lives to unrealistic standards, too. You might catch yourself judging your friends for mistakes that don’t matter much.

Sometimes, you may even mock their tastes without voicing these thoughts out loud. Even though you keep these opinions to yourself, you feel bad for how judgmental you are, yet you don’t know how to stop.

Feeling Insecure in Relationships

Maybe you have trouble making new friends. You might worry that they will criticize you the same way that your parents did. You don’t want to make yourself vulnerable. After all, vulnerability feels too much like weakness.

It’s hard to share things about yourself with other people. Every time you do open up about something personal, you brace yourself for the inevitable criticism that you expect to follow. Entering into romantic relationships can be even more difficult than making friends.

Fear of Trying New Things

When you’re constantly grappling with your inner critic, or you’re remembering all of the times your parents told you that you were doing something wrong, you might be hesitant to try new things. Perhaps you talk yourself out of trying things. You assume that you’ll be bad at it.

On the rare occasion that you do decide to sign up for a class or give a new activity a go, you end up engaging in negative self-talk the whole time. This makes the experience unenjoyable. If you do commit to a new hobby, you hold yourself to a competitive standard.

Get in touch with us to discuss your options for individual or family therapy.




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