This can come from a mother who was inconsistent with her affection. Meaning as a child you had to always be available and on alert for morsels of attention.
As an adult you can unwittingly be doing the same thing. Your lack of scheduling and commitment can be a way to be ‘always available’.
Spend two weeks writing down what you do every hour to get a real idea of where your time is going. Set a timer to go off on the hour to remind you.
The results can be eye opening. Try not to judge yourself but instead decide what you want to let go of or change. Learn about time management and how to set and achieve goals. If you find this very hard, consider some sessions with a life coach.
If you had to be a ‘good, perfect’ child for mother growing up, or your mother over-relied on you as her source of identity? Then you missed the learning curve of setting healthy boundaries and saying no.
Are you indecisive? Never know what you really want? Tend to do what other people tell you, and then regret it or feel angry?
When we don’t have a strong mothering presence guiding us as a child, we can unconsciously seek all answers from others as an adult. We don’t learn to recognise our own needs and desires and hear our own instincts.
It’s time to develop your own inner guidance system, or ‘inner parent’.Mindfulness is again highly recommended. It gives you direct access to your ‘inner wisdom’, a voice that waits behind the criticism and overthinking.
Body awareness is also a useful tool here. Learn to notice your physical response to decisions. Are you constantly pushing yourself to do things that give you anxiety or fear just because someone else told you you ‘should’?
And learn the art ofgood questions. This means sitting down and spending time journalling responses to ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions (avoid the ‘whys’, they lead to dispiriting rabbit holes).
The sister of love is self-acceptance. And it’s actually far easier to achieve than self-love, which tends to come in its wake anyway.
The first thing is again awareness. Often the soundtrack in our mind is something we aren’t even aware is hugely self critical and mean to ourselves. We are accustomed to our negative thinking.
Then shift your focus to what is right about you and your life. Each day take time to write out not just three things you are grateful for, but three things you’ve achieved, no matter how small.
As for raising your self-esteem, the best tool here isself-compassion. This means constantly asking yourself, would I say or do that to my best friend? Then why am I doing or saying it to myself? How can I start to treat myself as well as I treat my friends?
When is it time for support?
Growing up without the mothering we need can indeed leave us with real psychological issues that take time and commitment to overcome.Low self-esteem and relationship problems are common.
Yes, there are a lot of great self help tools nowadays. But working with a counsellor or psychotherapist can fast-track your results. There is something about the calm, non-judgmental space that therapy provides that means we have self revelations faster.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and mentor, who has done some training in person-centred counselling and coaching. She grew up without much mothering so knows a thing or two about all the things she shares in this article! Find her on Instagram @am_darcy