How to deal with parents who put you down

A girl wrote into me asking why her mother kept comparing her to other people and destroying her self-esteem. My answer got a huge response on Quora because it turns out lots of people have mean parents who make them feel bad about themselves. In this video, we explore why this happens, how to recognise it, and what you can to do to prevent your parents wrecking your confidence.


To boost your confidence with confronting difficult people, talk to Dan about coaching


Full transcript (unedited)

All righty, welcome back. Today
we’re going to be talking about

how to deal with parents who put
you down, or otherwise

constantly make you feel bad
about yourself. Okay, we’re

going to have a look at how they
do this, why they do this and

what you can do to reduce the
impact it has on you, and

rebuild your confidence and self
esteem. So I got a question on From a young girl
simply said this, my mom is

always comparing me to other
people. And it really gets to

me, my self esteem is so low
because of her wide appearance

do this. Now this is, this is
really common. Let’s start by

looking at what it is that
parents do to create this

feeling of low self esteem and
their children. And then we have

a look at why they do it. Number
one, guilt tripping and

invalidation. A lot of parents
do this where they basically

control their children through
the emotion of guilt. Okay, and

I can do this in lots of
different ways. Maybe they do

lots of favors for you that you
didn’t ask for. And then they

expect something in return.
Maybe they’re constantly picking

away at the little things you
did wrong. So it gives you a

sense that you never really do
anything, right. Maybe there’s

outright insults you. There’s a
way of just constantly creating

a sense of guilt when you’re
around them, like you’re

constantly having to catch up
and earn some points back

because you lost those points.
That’s guilt tripping, unfair

comparisons, like the girl who
wrote and said to me, taking you

and comparing you to someone in
a specific area where that

person’s always better than you.
You know, if you got second

place in the race, why wouldn’t
you first, you know, your

brother’s earning so much more
than you even though three years

older and had more time to do
it? Well, your sisters so much

better than you because you
know, she’s got a boyfriend now,

even though their boyfriends a
decade, you know, there’s

constant comparison to whatever
you lack in, no matter what you

do the parent find somebody else
to compare you to somebody who’s

doing better, impossible
standards, setting the standards

of what is good enough, so high
and constantly moving the

goalposts. So no matter what you
do, you’re never there. Even

when you do the best, you didn’t
do it quick enough. Even if when

you competed at the top level of
your sport, you didn’t win the

race, there’s always that kind
of never quite enough. And even

though they’ll tell your
standard, when you actually meet

it, they’ll set the standard
even further. Outright abuse and

violence, neglect, anything that
shows you that you are less than

a human to them, you are less
important to them than something

else mediocre. You know, if you
interrupted them, while they’re

watching TV, and they hate you
for it, they’re saying the TV is

more important than you being
very controlling and strict. So

make it very difficult for you
to have autonomy and freedom of

choice, being really hard on you
about schoolwork, not letting

you see friends having a
ridiculously early bedtime,

being like really pedantic about
cleanliness and hygiene and

things like that, that really
sort of controlling there’s so

many rules, and you don’t know
what they all are, you’re just

constantly in trouble. And when
you do get in trouble, you get

severe punishments, like you
didn’t clean up in time, and you

get grounded for three months,
you know, this kind of really

controlling harsh prison style
environment, or something close

to it. And even one that I’ve
noticed is spreading shit about

you behind your back complaining
about you to other relatives,

you know, talking shit about you
to your own friends, that’s kind

of like spreading filth about
you, in sometimes quite a subtle

way or even a humorous way. So
you can’t really call it out.

But the whole time, they’re just
lowering other people’s

perceptions of you. So you’re
kind of left only with them,

nobody else will support you.
Very, very common manipulation

technique. It’s fucked up.
Right? What a fucked up thing to

do to a child. Why would someone
do this? While there are some

reasons and understand these
reasons will help you let go a

little bit of the taking it
personally narrative. When you

understand that the people doing
this to you are doing it out of

some sort of mental disorder,
then you can understand this

isn’t actually about you.
There’s nothing wrong with you.

There’s something wrong with
their parenting and their

psychology. Number one legacy.
Quite often what you’re getting

is simply a representation of
the parenting they received.

They’re passing on the illness
to you. If you’ve got a mother

who guilt trips, you guaranteed
her mother guilt tripped her as

well. Okay, you’re getting this
thing passed down through the

generations. And I’d like to put
it in a little note there. It’s

your chance to break a cycle.
Okay, if you can deal with this,

then you maybe don’t pass it on
to your son or your daughter

control. Simply put low self
esteem children are easier to

manage. Okay? If you need your
parents approval to feel good

about yourself, then you’re very
easy to control from your

parents point of view, and might
not be a conscious plan on their

part. But it’s very simple for
them to realize that hey, every

time I put this kid down, they
Do what I told him to do, it’s a

very easy process for me. So
sometimes isn’t as terrible as

that sounds, your parents might
be being mean to you just to

make it easier for them to make
you less of a hassle. That’s how

bad it can be fear. Quite often,
your parents are simply afraid.

Maybe they see your failures, by
their own judgmental standards

is somehow a reflection of their
own as a parent, everything that

they don’t like about you, they
don’t like about themselves. And

so there’s this fear that you
represent them. Maybe it’s even,

quite literally, like, they
don’t want their church to see

how bad you are as a kid, or
they’ll think that you’re a bad

Christian, you know, it’s that
kind of thing, where they’re

actually afraid that your
behavior will somehow reflect on

them negatively. And they try to
control you to avoid that thing

on them, especially if they’re
very judgmental, and they’ve

received a lot of judgment and
their life, if they come from a

very harshly judgmental
community, or a family

background themselves, their
reputation will be a big deal to

them, and you’ll be directly
responsible in their eyes for

that reputation. So they may be
afraid for themselves through

you, competition and love from
the other parent, I found a

really common like, a lot of
emails I get, it’s the mother

daughter dynamic. You know, the
daughter has just an awful

relationship with their mother,
but it’s alright with Father,

there’s something about mothers
to females in the house with one

male, the competition for the
love of the male. For some

reason some mothers resent the
daughters for their father’s

love, you know, they lose the
Father’s love and attention to

the daughter. And this can
actually drive us kind of a

competition here, where you’re
seen as the barrier where you’re

seen as the competition, and a
big one that really goes

unnoticed mental illness and
personality disorders. Like

there are millions of people out
there with personality

disorders. And some of these can
be really, really brutal. Like,

if you’ve got a parent who has
borderline borderline

personality, they may be
incapable of preventing

themselves from causing
destruction. It’s so often for

somebody with Borderline to do
the most harm to the peoples

closest to them, they kind of
can’t help themselves, right. So

you can have a parent who has
this and takes it all out on

you, and they don’t even know
what they’re doing. Or they may

have a diagnosed or undiagnosed
mental illness. For example, if

they’re bipolar, their moods
might range from wildly manic,

to massively depressed. And
because you’re the doctor,

you’re the one closest to them.
They you’re the one who gets the

worst of it, they kind of
control themselves in the

presence of other people. So
other people don’t see it as

much. But there are a lot of
people out there with

undiagnosed mental disorders and
personality disorders. And you

might simply have a parent who
has mental problems, and they’re

taking it out on you. Let’s talk
about how to deal with it.

Firstly, you have to see this
for what it is manipulation, not

love, not discipline, not good
parenting, manipulation. Okay,

if you’re receiving good
parenting, you’re going to feel

love and warmth, and safety in
the presence of your parents,

even when they’re hard on you,
you’re going to feel that it’s

fear that you earned it, that
you can talk about anything with

them, that you’re able to set
boundaries with them, but you’ll

still respect their boundaries,
that you won’t have constant

feelings of guilt and anxiety
and compulsion to please them or

any of that, if you’re having
healthy parenting. Or if you’re

afraid of your parents, if you
hate your parents. If you never

want to be like your parents,
that’s a bad sign. Okay. And

it’s not a sign that you’re bad
as a kid. It’s a sign that they

have manipulative, or
neglectful. But that’s another

story. So you got to understand
if you’re having a lot of

negative emotion in relationship
to your parents, your first port

of call manipulation, call it
what it is. The thing is, we’re

all raised to think the
parenting we received is normal,

because that’s the only
parenting we know. It isn’t till

we get older that we start to
see hate other parents don’t

behave like this. The trouble
is, you may even be in a

community, especially if it’s a
small, close knit community of

people and all parent like this.
And there aren’t many

exceptions. Just because you
haven’t seen anything else

doesn’t mean that what you’re
receiving is normal or healthy.

Okay, if you don’t feel good
about the way your parents treat

you, that’s all you need to
know. They’re not doing it very

well. Okay, how to deal with it.

The short answer to dealing with
all manipulation is to call it

out, treat everything as
manipulation and label it as

such. When you know, Dad says I
wish he could be more like your

brother, you’d be like, Well,
that’s pretty manipulative, like

guilt tripping me by comparing
me to someone who’s different to

me, that’s really unfair to do,
calling out what it is all the

time using the word
manipulation. As many times as

you can, it’s very hard to
manipulate someone when they

call it out. It’s very easy when
they take it personally and try

to fix it. Okay? So if mom’s
like, oh, you know, I wish you

to call me more, Mom, that’s
guilt tripping. I don’t want you

to do that anymore. Just tell me
how you feel. But don’t try and

maneuver me with guilt. That’s
manipulation. To be able to have

these confrontations all the
time. I know it’s a lot easier

said than done, I actually have
a whole course on confrontations

that I’ll link below. And I’ve
got a podcast where I covered

manipulation in great detail.
And I’ll link that below as

well. But you got to call it out
and walk away, never condone it,

never make it okay for them to
talk to you like this and treat

you like this. It’s on you to
control how you respond to them.

You can’t stop them being the
way they are. Okay, that’s a

dead end road where they’re just
going to end up controlling you.

But you can control yourself.
Make sure that anytime they

behave in this way it is
punished. And as punished by you

walking away. Every time you you
can be like, Okay, you’re doing

that guilt tripping thing again,
we’ve talked about this, I’m not

putting up with it. I’ll see you
tomorrow, goodbye, and walk

away. It doesn’t matter how
young you are. Okay, you can

still walk away. So you’re gonna
understand that if you stick

around and try to talk with them
through it, argue against them,

you’re actually condoning it.
You’re making them manipulation,

okay, you have to treat it like
they’re throwing rocks at you or

something. Right? Or like
they’re passing on the carpet.

You can’t allow it to be okay at
all, and must be dealt with

immediately and seen for what it
is already. Thank you so much

for watching, you know what to
do next. First, subscribe to the

channel. If you liked this, it
helps support me and helps grow

the audience, which means I can
talk to more people. And

secondly, if you really want
more information on this topic,

like I said, below have got a
podcast on manipulation. If you

want to get to the next level,
you can join up with brojo and

take our confrontations and
boundary setting course which

I’ve designed specifically for
dealing with the most difficult

confrontations like those with
your family. Thank you again for

listening. And I will see you
all next time. Cheers.

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