Do you sometimes wonder if your family might be to blame for your social anxiety? Are there moments from your past that seem like they may have been the root of your tension and fear?
If you would like to learn how your early life may have contributed to your social anxiety so that you can be free of that burden, then this episode is the one for you! Today’s topic is brought to us by a viewer who was wondering about how parenting choices can lead to anxiety and other emotional issues in their children.
Now, there is no question that the way our family members relate to us can cause stress, anxiety, and a sense of inferiority. The core problem surrounding social anxiety, however, is a feeling of inadequacy.
When we are made to feel like we’re not “enough,” we begin to believe that we’re unworthy of love—this makes it difficult for us to be ourselves, connect with others, and put ourselves out there in the path of possible rejection.
For many of us, these ideas are implanted in our subconscious minds at a very early age through society, the media, and—unfortunately—our families.
These non-stop messages (literally hundreds per day) infect every single one of us . . . but the way our family guides us through this atmosphere in our formative years can truly make or break our ability to navigate it into adulthood. In other words, when your parents and other family members don’t teach you how to handle these messages in a healthy way, you become more susceptible to them as an adult.
So, how do our parents either protect us or make us more vulnerable to negative messaging?
In many cases, it’s simply a matter of how they relate to us and whether they communicate that we are worthy of their attention.
Even the subtlest acts can signal to a child that he is not more interesting or important than what is happening on the TV or his parents’ phones. This has a huge impact on our sense of significance later in life.
One of the most common ways this happens is by feeling like a burden to our parents because they’re always “busy.” We have something that we want to show them, or we have an activity we’d like to share with them, or we simply want to talk to them . . . but all we ever hear is, “I’m sorry—I’m too busy right now.”
For kids, it’s impossible to see the importance of deadlines or other adult stresses. They don’t see a text chain with their father’s oldest friends or an email from their mother’s demanding boss: they just see that something is more interesting (and important) than they are.
Sadly, this feeling carries over into the future and makes it intimidating for that grown-up child to share his interests, convey his passions, or tell a story about what’s going on in his life.
When we grow up feeling insignificant, it doesn’t matter how important our thoughts may be to us—we begin to believe that they’re not going to be interesting to anyone else.
And that’s not the only way that parents can negatively affect their children.
Not only can parents make us feel unworthy through their actions, but they can also inject feelings of anxiety through their beliefs and social customs. For example, many parents will shame their children (especially boys) for having emotions or sharing their feelings.
This shaming is, of course, a very common root of social anxiety, and we can see it in several everyday parental exclamations:
– Calm down!
– Ignore her, she’s just being dramatic!
– There’s nothing to be scared of/upset about/angry with!
It’s not that parents are mean or abusive—it’s just that they may lack the emotional intelligence to remain patient and understand that a small child doesn’t grasp things the way adults do.
When our childhood emotional life is undermined or mocked, we grow up believing that it is wrong to display or discuss our emotions—we then feel ashamed of our emotions, making it impossible to gain the capacity to work with our feelings or communicate them in a healthy manner.
Whether directly or indirectly, we associate sadness, frustration, anger, and even sexual desire with shame, and that fuels our sense of inferiority and social anxiety.
This goes beyond a fear of merely revealing emotions—for many of us, it feels shameful to even admit they exist.
So, for those of us who experience great amounts of anxiety because of our upbringings, what can we do to move past it and create the lives we want?
Well, obviously, you can sit down and have a conversation with your parents, but you are not going to be able to depend on them to help you heal. The sad truth is that your feelings about your own emotional life and social abilities are deeply ingrained at this point—in order to move forward and create new, more healthy associations, you alone must do the work to rewrite the stories in your mind.
Only you can uproot and upgrade the outdated programming that keeps you from achieving what you want to in life.
How do you do that? If you truly want to end the cycle of non-stop negativity that is running in your head, then these episodes are a great place to start! There are hundreds of individual episodes for you to take advantage of. You can also check out my podcast, Shrink for the Shy Guy, and visit my website, SocialConfidenceCenter.com, where you can find several other resources (including my comprehensive program, Confidence University).
With hard work and consistency, you will begin to break these patterns down and neutralize them so that you can eventually heal your psyche and create a thriving social life.
What’s even better is that this process will teach you both the pitfalls and the healing steps associated with this issue. As a result, you will be able to help avoid the creation of negative mental patterns and work to create positive vibes in your own children one day.
As always, I invite you to like, subscribe, and share your thoughts in the comments below. How has your past affected your mental and emotional health as an adult? What negative associations do you hold with feelings in your mind? What steps have you taken to heal your childhood-based mental patterns? Please also feel free to share your tips, tricks and successes below so that we can continue to support one another in our growth.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.