Denise is an attractive 34-year-old who always believes she’ going to screw things up — whether it’s her job or a class she’s taking. Sometimes it happens, but most of the time, it doesn’t — except with men. When she meets a man, she rushes in and wants to believe the relationship is more than it really is. It feels so good to be close to the new man because she always longed for this kind of closeness when growing up. Her mother was cold and critical, and her father didn’t ever stand up for her. One time when she was in an accident and damaged the car, her mom actually said, “I wish you had broke your neck!”
Comments like this in her childhood has made her self-esteem so low that when a man verbally abuses her or cheats on her, she thinks she must deserve it, so she doesn’t say anything. In fact, she usually thinks that if she could just change and become a better person, then he wouldn’t treat her that way. It has taken her awhile in therapy to stop blaming herself and to realize that her mother set her up to be treated badly by others. Her mother made everything Denise’s fault, and now Denise has been doing it to herself. She’s had difficulty getting rid of the tapes inside her head.
And her mother still criticizes and blames her, so it never stops. But Denise was crying on her mom’s shoulder when things would go wrong, still trying to get that closeness she longs for. What Denise didn’t realize was that whining to her mom keeps her thinking that something really is wrong with Denise. Her mom is not consoling. Instead, she tells her to stop whining, to pull herself up by her bootstraps and handle it! This only makes Denise feel worse. Denise needs to realize that her mom, because of her critical behavior, is and enemy, and you don’t tell your secrets to the enemy. Instead, Denise has to learn to stop her mom any time she says anything critical, and hang up if necessary. She’s now learning to put the blame for her low self-esteem exactly where it belongs — on her mom. There’s not something wrong with her, there was something wrong with her upbringing. And when her anxiety creeps in and she thinks she’s going to mess something up, she needs to say, “Screw you mom, you’re wrong about me!” Once she can stop her mom and remind herself not to take the blame, she will not only become more successful, even with men, but her self-esteem will grow by leaps and bounds!
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