Moms usually mean well but sometimes they say things to make us feel better that don’t actually turn out that way. Sometimes, the statements stay with us, burned into our subconscious and directing behavior of which, we are hardly aware.
My sister was a beautiful child with Grace Kelly legs (for you younger folk, Grace Kelly’s legs were her trademark and insured for $1M). I, on the other hand was a chubby round faced kid with bucked teeth full of energy and inquisitive of everything. My mother once said to me: “Your sister may grow up to be beautiful, but you… you will be interesting”. (Or at least that is the way I heard it)
What 12 year old girl aspires to be ‘interesting’? None that I’ve met for sure! I had no way of knowing that in my mother’s perspective – “interesting” would open more of the world to me than beauty alone. I had no way of knowing that she coveted “interesting” and admired those she felt exuded that quality.
All I knew was that “I” was not destined to be “beautiful” in my mother’s eyes.
I don’t recall shedding any tears over the comment or passing it through my adolescent brain for long but I am aware (in retrospect) that I spent far too many years attempting to prove that I too – could be beautiful (in a physical sense).
I searched for validation of my physical beauty in as many ways as I could; by focusing on slimming down, orthodontics, and the latest fashions. I became attractive by any social standard but failed to believe that I would be much more than “interesting” even though people would tell me I barely resembled the young girl I had once been. After all – my mother knew me best, right? My mother knew everything, right? My mother had my back, right?
Frankly – parents say things to their children “thinking” that they are protecting them, that they are preparing them to go out into the ‘big cruel world’. Typically, we believe that our comments are serving a purpose.
A client once shared with me that her father repeatedly told her that she “had better hoped to get married quickly so that a man could take care of her”. Another example of a statement that lay buried in this woman’s subconscious directing her to find a husband as soon as possible and believing that she ‘needed’ to be cared for – that she was unable to do it herself.
Children are not aware of social vernaculars and take the language we parents speak as ‘truth’. In frustration, a father states “Don’t be stupid about it!” and the child plants the thought “I am stupid” deep into his mind and then it grows into a belief that directs self worth and defeating behavior.
As children, we BELIEVE what our parents tell us – unconditionally. We believe that they know what they are talking about so their statements must be true and we bury our understanding of their statements deep into our minds without knowing how it manifests throughout the rest of our lives.
It is our job as adults to begin to question the validity of some of those ‘core beliefs’ of ourselves and of the world; the ones that were planted via our parents perspectives. Bring into your awareness the thoughts that plague your self-esteem and begin to question their ‘truth’.
For me – I had to understand that my mother believed real ‘beauty’ was in being “interesting”. I had to discover my own meaning of ‘beautiful’ and assess the attributes (both physical and mental) present in myself. It didn’t matter how many people told me I was beautiful until I figured out for myself that my ‘beauty’ came from WHO I AM in every sense.
Whatever that message was from your parents – whether it be beauty, capable, smart, or any of the other personal qualities that are admirable… chances are you DO possess them.
Look closely … but look within.
- Teaching My Girls About Beauty – What I wish I was told as a kid (babble.com)
- My role is to make my child feel beautiful – inside and out (telegraph.co.uk)
- Thoughts of Family and Parents (macattack56.wordpress.com)