Self-Doubt: Your Parents Still Live in Your Head

[Written around 2004.]

Self-doubt is part of the healing process. As you progressively break from your family on the quest to become a true individual, a part of yourself remains a clone of the family in attitude and behavior. This part does not want to change. It views the world through the sick family perspective and hates that the deepest part of you desires to free your spirit and stand on your own. The weak attacks the strong, and you feel this attack as self-doubt.

Self-doubt is painful and unpleasant, but valuable. It is the ever present reminder that the civil war within really is happening, and that this is no imaginary internal conflict. Self-doubt points out exactly who are the opposing armies and defines the relative strength and tactics of each. Self-doubt is the conscious expression of the battle between the true self and the false parent that you have internalized, and if you lack clarity about your parents’ deepest motives you need look no further than the cruelty in your own self-doubt. Your parents implanted this self-doubt in you long ago with full intention, however unconscious, of blocking you from progressing on the very journey you are undertaking today. Your parents of today may smile and deny it all, but your self-doubt speaks louder.

As you grow stronger your self-doubt will weaken. But this is not always obvious, because as you grow stronger you will become more conscious of your self-doubt and will hear it more clearly. Whereas in the past you heard your self-doubt unconsciously to the degree that you may have hardly even noticed it and simply followed its orders, now at times it can torture you with its poisoned arrows and roadside bombs. In the past it didn’t consciously trouble you much because you weren’t doing battle with it. You were simply trying to fit in and win impossible love just like you struggled to do as a child. Now you are stronger and realize that if you continue to heed its call it will kill you. So you fight. It is the only way out.

3 thoughts on “Self-Doubt: Your Parents Still Live in Your Head

  1. The language of this post reminds me of internal family systems therapy, something I’ve been getting interested in lately. I’d love to know what you think of this method, I’ve heard it touted as one of the more effective methods for doing self therapy.

  2. Greetings from greece.
    I am dealing with great amounts of self-doubt right now. Thank you from de-demonizing (if i can use a word like that) this process in my heart. A little more power to me to go on.
    I became a parent 16 months ago and unfortunately I read an anrticle of yours yesterday. My fight started when I got pregnant. The son in my belly brought in the surface all of my childhood pain and abuse (is the fact that it took my son’s existence for me to realize how sick I have become already and how not-guilty my parents were for me the beginning of my son’s abuse of me?). I of course am far from healing, I don’t even know when to start. I broke connection with my parents instictively out of self-preservation motives and big realisations somewhat a month ago. But I am maybe still in denial because I am not grieving, I am feeling liberated. The reason that I find the discovery of your articles unfortunate is that I now see in a more brutal light the pain I have already knew I have – and continue to – inflicted to my son. I have a question or two for you. I am looking for a little quick-fix guidance here so as to save maybe a little harm done to my son. (Of course I realise the solution is self improving through personal hard work and therapy). Does breaking connection with my parents mean I have to avoid them entirely? For me yes. But my son wants to see his grandfather (he has a liking to him) and I don’t feel at liberty of denying this freedom of him. Of course that means I will also be present. I am a little bit reluctant at engaging at a meeting with my parents for the next twenty years. Secondly, guiding a child seems a little controversial in our society. Not letting him enter certain places I know we are unwanted and/or banished because of the way I am (a lot of people especially in the middle-age minded Greece really, trully hate me) seems to create feelings of anger at him which I totally understand. Am I the boss to forbid (even in the nicest time-consuming explenation) him an action, any action? Isn’t this going to alter his personality, conform him or modify him? What is a right non-abusive decision anyway? Maybe a thousand more questions come to mind. My sadness is great that I need advice to mother properly and I mistrust every therapist although I’ve never been to one. I am persuaded without evidence but because my feeling says so that in Greece I will not find one suited for me for I too seek one that focuses on childhood traumas and is generally or fully healed. Any advice on how to seek one?
    My comment is really or partially irrelevant to this specific article and only really “help-demanding centered” and for that I am sorry but I spontaneously needed to write this down to you. (And if the extent to which I was abused is of any relevance to you I tell you I was emotionally and mildly but repeatedly physically abused.)
    Kudos to your bravery, and mercy to our poor children..

  3. “if you lack clarity about your parents’ deepest motives you need look no further than the cruelty in your own self-doubt.”
    Extremely helpful! Thanks Daniel!

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