Everybody has some level of negative self talk, but where does it come from? There are so many possible answers to that question. Unfortunately, it often begins before we are even able to speak. As babies, we hear our caregivers tell us who they believe we are. Often that is unknowingly negative. Examples of this are, “He’s such a needy baby,” “Nothing makes her happy,” “He’s just fussy all the time.” There are many other statements most parents say without knowing the possible long-term effects. Those often transform into negative self talk that carries through to adulthood.
However, I will say that most parents have no clue that these comments could possibly shape the baby’s idea of self in a negative way. Have you heard the statement, “Children become who or what they are told they are?” Obviously, many parents tell their children all of the wonderful and amazing things they deserve to hear. That is wonderful and not my focus for this blog post.
Most parents do not consciously intend to harm their babies’ self-images. Not for one moment is this meant to shame or cause guilt for parents who have said these things. What I am trying to explain is how they unknowingly can affect the baby. Also, this is how some of our negative self talk is created at such an early age. Keep in mind that your baby can grow to heal from this if we teach them how to heal. There will be blog posts on that in the future.
How Do Our Words Affect Our Babies?
Now, refer back to the examples of comments I gave earlier. Imagine hearing those repeatedly as a teenager. The wording is probably different but the same meaning. Examples of this are “You are so lazy,” or “You make everything so much harder for everybody.” Many of you may not have to merely imagine that because, sadly, that was your reality. If so, you may now see how your negative self talk may have been created.
If a teenager hears statements like those over and over, their behaviors will typically begin to match those statements. Attempting to prove that it’s true that they are lazy or whatever else they are told. What happens then? Parents use the behaviors to feel justified in making the comments they were already making. Children then begin believing those comments are their full identity. That negative self talk fuels their negative self-image.
So, why is it that we don’t acknowledge the effects of this on babies? Our knowledge of what babies grasp is vastly under-researched. That is probably because of the difficulty of that undertaking. How can we truly know what is affecting a baby?
That’s very difficult to do. Even so, it is still connected to our negative self talk. However, when I’ve worked with those who heard those kinds of comments repeatedly as teenagers. EVERY SINGLE time their self-worth and negative self talk match what they are hearing and probably heard as a baby. You may be wondering how anybody would remember or know what they heard as a baby.
Well, that would be difficult to know for sure, but most of us have repeatedly heard stories about what kinds of babies we were. Many of the examples I mentioned are turned into “jokes” as we get older. What I have seen is that people who heard these “jokes” over and over again struggle with huge piles of Not Good Enough Stuff. Those piles correspond with those “jokes,” which correspond with their negative self talk. I just don’t believe there’s any way that this is a coincidence.
What Stories Were Told About You as a Baby?
Take a moment to think back to what stories or “jokes” you heard about yourself as a baby. Do your behaviors and thoughts mimic those? Let’s stick with one of the examples I gave of “Nothing makes her happy.” Did you hear that about yourself?
If so, are you constantly trying to find the next thing and the next thing and the next to “make” yourself happy? Is there always a “next thing,” but never the feeling of lasting happiness or contentment? Have you told yourself that once you get that degree, that house, that relationship, that certain weight, that job or whatever else it may be, that you will be happy? What happens when you achieve that next thing? My guess is that you are happy for a brief moment and then your Not Good Enough Stuff creeps in because “nothing makes you happy.” This is your negative self talk screaming at you.
Please understand that I am not suggesting that you should blame your parents. ALL parents screw their kids up somehow. There are definitely some parents who do that consciously, but I believe that most parents do not have malicious intent in regard to this. For those with parents who did, my heart breaks for you and you can still heal from that.
Is it possible to heal your Not Good Enough Stuff and the negative self talk that were created when you were a baby and caused your Negative Self Talk? Absolutely! Begin exploring what you can to determine what life was like for your parents or caregivers. What were they experiencing when you were conceived and throughout your years as a baby? Was there financial stress? Medical issues? Difficulty in family relationships? Relationship issues between parents? Were you planned? Now, what of any of those things were the fault of a precious little baby? NOT ONE THING! Then how could that affect you?
Parents and Caregivers Create the Self-Image for Babies
Babies are trying to figure out everything in the world, as it is all brand new. They don’t have the ability to separate their parents’ or caregivers’ piles of Not Good Enough Stuff from their own identities. Unfortunately, babies have to “sit” in the energy of those piles.
Here’s an example of how “sitting” in those negative energy piles translates into Negative Self Talk. It grows bigger and bigger the older we get if we don’t find ways to heal it. Let’s look at financial stress from parents or caregivers. I’m referring to financial stress beyond the norm that often comes with having a baby.
Imagine the energy of parents or caregivers who did not know how they were going to afford the basic necessities of a baby. This could erupt in many different ways. The parents could be angry, sad or in fear that they are now having to figure out how to provide for a baby. As I mentioned earlier, babies can’t separate their parents’ or caregivers’ piles of Not Good Enough stuff from their own identities.
That baby can begin to feel as though he or she is a problem. That turns into a belief that his or her mere existence is a problem for the world. I say the world because parents and caregivers represent the “world” for a baby. This typically translates into adolescence and adulthood as negative self-talk. It also turns into behaviors that match the negative self talk that stemmed from the energy they took on from their caregivers.
Parents’ Not Good Enough Stuff Affects Future Behavior of Babies
What do these behaviors look like? Most often, these fall into two categories, the “Over-Achiever” and the “Underachiever.” There are also people who may vacillate between the two. The “Over-Achiever” can also be called the “Perfectionist.” This person has a lot of anxiety and is always doing something to try to prove that he or she deserves to exist in the world. The “Under Achiever” is often called lazy. This person doesn’t really try to do his or her best and will usually do the bare minimum or less than that. Their negative self-talk tells them that it doesn’t matter how much or what they do, they will still not be good enough to exist. Are you now thinking of people who fit those categories? Are you feeling like the letters on this page have a mirror in the background because it feels like I’m describing you? Does this sound like your on negative self talk?
Allow yourself to think of a little baby hearing and feeling the energy that I keep mentioning. What did that baby do to make himself or herself not good enough? Again, NOT ONE THING! Now, get a picture of yourself as a baby. If you don’t have a physical picture, just imagine yourself as a baby. Send love to that precious little baby and let him or her know that he or she is more than good enough and perfect. Tell that baby what he or she needed to hear as a baby. Do you feel a lightness in your heart? Do that exercise often. If you want to take this one step further to heal your negative self talk at a place where it was probably created, I have a beautiful recommendation for you. Get a picture of yourself and make it the background and screen saver on your phone. Think about how many times a day you will see a picture of that precious baby every day. Each time you pick your phone up, send a little love and compassion to that sweet baby. Tell that baby all of the wonderful things that he or she is and THAT can begin shifting your negative self talk. As you do this, you will begin to see that your negative self talk begins to decrease.
To learn more about healing Not Good Enough Stuff and how it affects us, click here to explore other blog posts.
Negative Self Talk: “To build self-esteem, you have to outface your negative beliefs about yourself and change them.” AsmaaDokmak