It all started way back. As children, we take cues from our parents and other adults who wield power in our lives. We internalize what we think they think into our self-view.
When people who don’t love themselves or possess low levels of self-esteem become parents, they don’t know how to convey love to their children since they never received much of it themselves.
Instead, they are critical. Why? Because we always criticize others when we are critical of ourselves, and vice-versa. Their criticism, whether open or indirect, roughly translates as I don’t love you the way you are and You cannot be your true Self if you want my love—you must change.
As a result, we begin at a very early age to believe that receiving love depends on meeting certain conditions. We adopt the belief that we are unworthy of love and must mold ourselves into someone else in order to obtain it.
And why don’t we stand up and object against this tyranny? Because when we were children, our parents were so large in our minds that they were our world.
If they acted in an unhealthy way toward us, we couldn’t disagree with them, because to believe they were unhealthy and misguided would be to entertain the thought that our world was unhealthy and misguided. That would be too painful and would sweep the rug from under our feet.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).