11 comments on “3.65

  1. NO-win situation. Always. I had a 4.0. Not good enough. Literally was told – “So what? Where are the plusses?” I stupidly kept trying for years to earn some crumb of acceptance or pride.

    • It was always no-win, wasn’t it? If I did something that should have been seen as successful in their eyes, I was taken down a notch and made to feel like I still failed. So sad, really. My parents should have been overjoyed that I came home with a 3.65 instead of a 3.0, but instead they had to diminish my accomplishment and make sure I still knew I was a failure.

      I have quite a few more stories that relate to my academic career that I hope to share in the future.

  2. It’s heartbreaking. I didn’t get disapproval for my grades but I didn’t get disapproval either. This has left me feeling that I’ve got to be better to gain approval and has made me doubt my judgement, as in “I thought this was good. You don’t seem to think it is. I must have been wrong. It isn’t good after all.” Theses things leave a lasting effect.

    • You bring up a very good point. Once that programming was set in my head in childhood that I had to perform up to standards in order to gain approval and that my entire purpose in life was to make my parents look good, a lack of parental approval meant that I had failed. This meant my parents didn’t even need to say anything for me to percieve myself as a failure.

      And you’re right, I’ve spend way too long wallowing in the aftermath of my childhood. It’s a very difficult journey. I liken it to a river. My parents dredged my river for me and programmed me to accept that their path for my river was the best. It’s taken me decades to damn / dredge / redirect that river to a path that is best for ME.

  3. Now that you are older, you can recognize that the positive feedback has to come from within. Do it for yourself, not for the “praise” from others. The best part of this is that you get to choose what you want to focus your energy on as well, not what you think will impress them.

    Sorry that this happened to you.

    • The problem is how do you relearn that programming? It isn’t that I’m starving for external “praise” (well, maybe I am, but…). How do we learn to listen to the internal voice again that tells us we are worthy, good and lovable? And NOT hear the disapproving, belittling voice? It sucks to try to retrain yourself to love your Self when you have no idea how it’s supposed to be done.

      • There is a process. First, you must recognize that the belittling voice is not who you are. The word generating part of your brain will just keep generating words, because that is what it does. The easiest things to say are the repetitive phrases.

        It helps to meditate with the goal of just paying attention to how your brain will incessantly keep “talking” to you. Just observe this and recognize that YOU are the one listening, not the voice that is belittling you.

        I wrote a post on meditating that may help.


      • Hi Megan! Training your internal voice to stop telling you that you are inadequate is definitely a challenge that I can certainly understand. Since I was programmed to hold myself to an impossible and ever changing standard, my brain will always find fault with what I do. In my opinion, there are many many ways that you can retrain yourself. Who knows what might work for you.

        I know you mentioned previously that you have a very supportive husband. One way that might help is to ask him what strengths does he feel you have. You might be surprised at his answer. He may mention things that you do that you don’t even see as a strength, because they were never valued before. In my experience with a narcissistic upbringing, only a small subset of the human experience was of value and the rest was discarded. I might be an amazing artist, but if my family thought my art was “stupid” and I should have been a doctor, they won’t see my art as a strength, and with my desire to please my family, neither would I.. Additionally, my initial programming was done by someone who told me that I was inadequate (external validation) and I believed it and took it to heart. Having someone external tell me my strengths will also use this same pathway of external validation that I was taught but use it to build my personal strength. Hopefully once you see what your spouse (or maybe a close friend) truly think are your strengths, you will be able to look at yourself differently and see other strengths and realize that you are fine just the way your are, and don’t have to perform up to anyone’s standards except your own.

        Another option is to try and be totally objective about yourself. This is the path I had to take, since I currently don’t have anyone in my life whom I could go to that would know my strengths innately. This was very hard for me since I’ve never been able to do that before. For me, I looked at myself and did a personal inventory:

        – I am a successful design engineer working for a major defense contractor. I spend my days designing submarines and make a very nice salary.

        – I am the only person in my family (extended, too) that I’m aware of that has served his country.

        – I am very musically talented. I play guitar (hence my gravatar), bass, piano, and saxophone I have my own band and have been as successful as I’ve wanted to be with my music.

        – I am well respected by my peers at work and seen as an expert in my field.

        – I have plenty of money to enjoy life the way I want to.

        – I am empathetic, and truly care about other people

        – I have an amazing daughter who loves me very deeply and knows I love her just as much.

        – I fought hard to get the custody with my daughter that I have, because I wanted her to know the real me. My custody fight was absolutely the right thing to do, and worth every penny. I am able to give my daughter an alternate perspective from her mother, who may well have borderline personality disorder. If I had an alternate perspective growing up, I may well have not spent the next nearly 30 yrs repeating the same pattern.

        You can even go more basic –

        – I have a roof over my head

        – I have plenty to eat

        Yes, even these things are positive, because there are millions of people in the world that don’t have these things!

        The list goes on. When you’ve always been taught to look at what you’re not doing, it’s very hard to look at what you ARE doing. There may be even small things that you do that you don’t even think about.

        One way might be to take a piece of paper and write down every aspect of yourself that you can identify. Your job, your family situation, your children, your social network of friends, your skills, etc, and then list what it good about how you approach all these things. Then, if you’re so inclined, hand it to your husband or a friend, because they may expound on it in ways that you never thought about.

        I think the biggest issue to overcome is being able to forgive yourself for your perceived failures. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Forgive yourself for not measuring up to your parents impossible standards. Realize that those standards were unattainable, and that it’s OK if you fail to reach them. For me this was one of the hardest things to do. I NEVER received forgiveness for any of my failures from my family, so I had no idea what it meant to be forgiven.

        I have a post that I want to write on “what is the definition of success” that closely aligns with this discussion that I hope to complete and publish sometime soon.

        I hope this helps,

        Stephen Bach

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