My problems with self confidence and self esteem

I had a fantastic mother who taught me self-confidence.

Anna Torv

Self confidence is important. I believe you need it to be successful and I really hope that my children will be able to say that I helped improve their confidence.

Confidence is a brittle thing, it can be shaken to the core, and can be totally stripped from you by constant criticism and no praise. I don’t want that to happen to my girls. I want them to know they are brilliant, and can do anything that they put their minds to.

I will admit I am not the most confident person out there and even until recently I have doubted myself a lot. And I guess a whole lot has to do with my family, even if it was unintentional. I am writing this, to get it out of my system, and to remind myself not to do the same to my daughters, as I can see it beginning to happen.

The school I went to wasn’t the best. And my GCSE results were the second best in the school. BUT I got ONE C. My friends parents were happy about their kids passing. I hardly got any praise… shouldn’t have got a C.

My sister compared her handwriting to mine…….she was 10 years older….obviously hers was better.

People were told how I was lazy and wasn’t learning how to cook. When I did cook after marriage, the food was criticised, sometimes unfairly.

I had to have braces, and heard my mum constantly say how I had a pretty round face and the braces messed it all up and I now have a long face. I was told that long earrings didn’t suit my long face…..I then felt like I was ugly and that has stayed with me.

When I got pregnant, there was no joy……I was questioned on how I was going to cope. And I shouldn’t have got pregnant as my husband and I didn’t have our own home. There was no tears of happiness but more frowns. It made me doubt my abilities as a mother, I shut out the fact that I was pregnant….so much so that when it was suspected I may have had a miscarriage a part of me was glad. When my daughter arrived safely, I doubted everything I did. I couldn’t do anything right…and had to hear comments such as ‘if that was my daughter she would be potty trained by now.’ This led to feelings of inadequacy.

When we went abroad, my mum was constantly singing my sisters praises in front of my mother in law…she had nothing good to say about me and used to criticise anything I did in front of my mother in law.

My marriage felt like they were just getting rid of me, I never got the amount of clothes and jewellery my sister got at her first marriage. I felt like I wasn’t worth it. I felt like something to just be shot of so their duty of getting their kids married was over.

You may think I may be over thinking things…but others have noticed. And just not my hubby….so it is clearly not just in my mind.

I am in my 30’s…..and I still am often made to feel like a child at my parents….. maybe it is because I am the youngest…who knows…… All I know is that I am now beginning to hate going round to my parents house….I still do, they are after all my family…..but I’m constantly clock watching. Don’t get me wrong…they do also do a lot for me…..but I seem to be more at peace when I distance myself from them and family drama.

I did everything to keep them happy…so far as even getting into a marriage I didn’t want to. I had options, I was working…. I could have run away. But I didn’t, out of respect for them…… but what respect am I getting from them all? Hardly any.

My home is criticised, my mothering skills are criticised, my husband is criticised….the list goes on.

This post may not stay up long….I am not even sure if I will publish it…’s already been sitting in my drafts for a while. It all seems abit of a muddle.

Every time I read it, I think about how I wish I was closer to my family. I want to make sure there isn’t this distance between myself and my girls in the future. That they can talk to me and come to be about anything without being criticised.

That they never doubt that they are both loved and cherished equally.





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  • Well done for being brave. Sometimes, when your self esteem has been brought to such a low you need the external validity of others agreeing you have been treated unfairly. And there’s no doubt you have and continue to be. Have you tried sitting down (over a meal perhaps) and telling your parents how their words and actions make you feel? You can rehearse beforehand, break it up into bullet-points so it’s easier to remember and have your husband learn it too so he can gently step in if you need him to. This is what I did with my parents. Unfortunately, they are very toxic people and refuse to take responsibility for the effect their words/actions had on me. I’ve had to learn the value of boundaries to help me keep them at a distance that prevents them from hurting me.
    I’ve written about the abuse I suffered at their hands and it’s helped me feel stronger about it. And whenever I question myself about whether I should be sharing it I remember Anne Lamott’s advice, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
    Aisha from expatlog recently posted…Expat Lasts – A Life Of GoodbyesMy Profile

    • Thank you for your comments Aisha….the problems with talking in my family is that my parents are always right and there never seems to be a conversation like this would entail that doesn’t end up in a shouting match. They end up thinking I am stuck up because I went to uni.

  • I’m sorry to say I have felt similar things growing up in a highly critical family. I have noticed that my siblings and I each responded to that differently (and experience it differently as well, from my perspective). I think my parents subscribed to the theory that I needed to be toughened up to survive the world, and I continue to receive directions for improvement or questioning of my parenting. It was particularly difficult going through the breakup of my marriage with the support shown to one who abused me. The worst thing though is catching myself repeating the things I’ve learned with my son… I do not want to be this kind of parent. I do not think I need to toughen my son against the world… the world is already a harsh enough place without me being one of the factors. I’m not saying some good didn’t come out of it, I’ve survived obviously and did well in some areas, but I think confidence and self-esteem are more important than people say, and they are a cushion to help you bounce back from the difficulties of the world. Even if you have the abilities, if you don’t have that you will not feel like you are doing enough.

    I will say that more space between me and the family vastly improved our relationship. Not literal space necessarily, I want to be able to visit without getting exhausted by the trip, and let my son get the benefits he can from them, which are also many, but emotional space… I control the timing, I take the break I need so I can look forward to the visits instead of dreading them, and I try to insulate my son from damaging behaviors as much as I can. I think if you distance yourself as needed it will probably help you actually get closer when you are together, at the very least I know my parents have to some extent realized on their own that if they kept pushing against my parenting decisions (especially anything related to religion, which they don’t share), then they weren’t going to have a good, frequent relationship with their grandchild. Not because I said that, but because I refused to argue about these things with them, and made it clear which ones were not open for discussion (and also, to avoid unpleasantness, I made an effort to cut time short if I was starting to feel so upset and frustrated again). They of course are still wanting to “parent” me in a way, but I have to realize that it is my time to do things my way as parent to my son, and I have to take responsibility for that and stand up for myself, even if I feel inadequate about it. I read once that real confidence only comes from repeated successes, even small successes, so I have to do what I feel is right and maybe eventually it will come back.

    • Thank you for your comments…

      Sadly though, by distancing myself I seem to be feeling more distant from them day by day… I dread going round and just want to stay at home

  • Well done to you! You finally got it out! I wish you all the best with your daughters in the future, I’m pretty sure your an amazing and loving mother – don’t let anyone make you feel like your not! hugs x

  • Salaam alaykum dear,

    Good you get it out of your system. You seem to be heading in the right direction. Insha’Allah you will have the relationship you want with your daughters.

    Do things your own way. Everyone is different and what works for one might not work for others.

    Big hug for you!

  • I think it is really hard to feel this way. If I was you I would look at finding the positives in life rather than concentrate on the negatives. You are responsible for YOUR happiness. No one else is, so grab life and give your children all that confidence you feel robbed off.
    Jen aka The Mad House recently posted…Mothering SundayMy Profile

  • You sound like you’re doing a Fab job of being a mum and a wife even if they don’t seem to see that. It is a shame that some parents are so critical of their children but as lo g as you know that you are doing OK, that’s what matters. Hugs xx

  • I am sure many of us passed through such heart breaking experience. I feel sorry for kids who still have to pass through this coz it affects them deeply and for life ..
    For the time being you did great talking about it. You must be empathetic and sensitive to this issue which makes you a better mommy..
    Hugs to you x

  • Well done for writing this text and having been able to let out the things that hurt you Foz. It’s hard to build a life when every time you do something, every thing you do is never good enough, when you are always compared to others.
    You acknowledged your pain and your issues and you know you don’t want this for your girls. You’ll succeed Foz, you’ll help your little ones be confident and free.
    Much love to you. Take care. xoxo

  • I can imagine that this was a hard post to write and to actually press publish on. But well done for doing it, you must feel better getting it out of your system even just a little. As hard as it sometimes seems you need to look forward and with your loving husband and children you will move on I’m sure. Take care x

  • Well done for publishing. Do you think they mean well? I hear a mother at the school who calls her preschool aged daughter names in public (ones I don’t wish to publish tbh). I’m glad that you know that it is them and not you though – very well done on your achievements in life.
    Pinkoddy recently posted…Calorie Counting Motivational MondayMy Profile

  • It is so frustrating when you see others treated better than you. I try so hard to treat my children the same although because they are different ages they don’t see it. My MIL treats my niece so differently to our children but we have decided to live our loves for us and not care – its the best way

  • What a raw and endearing piece of writing. Well done on getting it on to paper! It is very difficult when you are brought up in a highly competitive environment. All I can say is, I use the Traffic Light system – RED are no go areas, the ones that make the red mist and angry remarks happen, AMBER – subjects that are likely to go to red, try and turn around into GREEN areas, the ones that you are happy talking about (in my case it is about happenings outside the family, other people, their problems and idiosyncracies which my parents and I can laugh at, or sympathise with, but from an objective viewpoint. This way you can get their perspective on things, without feeling that it is directed at you alone). Above all, remember your own little family is your responsibility – shield your kids from a toxic environment and make the effort to not repeat the scars of history. I think that you have already taken the first steps by publishing this post. Good luck!