People who grew up with constant criticism usually display these 8 traits later in life

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The way we grow up leaves a lasting impact on us, and those who were constantly criticized as children know this all too well.

Growing up in an environment of constant criticism can shape our personalities in unique ways. Often, these experiences are carried into adulthood, influencing our behavior and interactions with others.

If you’ve been subject to incessant criticism in your formative years, you might recognize some common traits that many people like us share. Here are 8 traits that are commonly found in adults who were constantly criticized as kids.

1) Hyper-critical of themselves

When you’ve grown up under the weight of constant criticism, it’s not uncommon for this pattern to turn inward.

Adults who experienced relentless critique in their childhood often develop a tendency to be hyper-critical of themselves. They may set impossibly high standards and feel deeply disappointed when they fail to meet them.

This self-criticism may extend to their appearance, work performance, relationships, and virtually every aspect of life. They may have an unending internal dialogue that scrutinizes every action, decision, and thought, mirroring the external criticism they experienced in their younger years.

Understanding this trait can be a key step towards self-compassion and acceptance.

2) Sensitivity to criticism

Growing up with constant criticism, I’ve learned that it can make one highly sensitive to any form of critique in adulthood.

I remember when I first started working, my manager pointed out a small mistake in one of my reports. For most people, this would have been a minor hiccup, a quick fix. But for me, it felt like a punch in the gut. The rest of the day was clouded by a sense of failure and embarrassment.

It’s not an easy trait to live with. It can make feedback sessions nerve-wracking and cause unnecessary stress. But once you recognize this sensitivity for what it is – a byproduct of your past, not a measure of your worth – it becomes easier to manage. You learn to separate constructive criticism from the destructive kind you grew up with, and life gets a little lighter.

3) Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often a common trait among those who grew up with constant criticism. In an attempt to avoid critique, individuals may strive for flawless performance in every aspect of their life.

Interestingly, research from the American Psychological Association has linked perfectionism to a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. This is partly because perfectionists set unrealistically high standards for themselves and see anything less as a failure.

This constant pursuit of perfection can lead to burnout and decreased productivity over time. 

4) Embracing impermanence

Bearing the burden of constant criticism can make one yearn for stability, for something constant. But life, as we know, is anything but constant.

Buddhism teaches the concept of impermanence – the idea that everything, including our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, is constantly changing. It’s a powerful perspective that can help individuals who have grown up with constant criticism to better understand and cope with their experiences.

In my book, “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”, I illustrate this concept along with other Buddhist principles. Reading it can provide valuable insights into embracing change and letting go of past hurts.

The wisdom it offers not only helps you understand your past experiences but also equips you to face future challenges with grace and resilience. If you want to check it out, you can find it on Amazon here.

5) Fear of rejection

Growing up with constant criticism can sometimes feel like walking on eggshells, always worried about doing something wrong and being rejected as a result. This fear often carries over into adulthood and can infiltrate various aspects of life.

I’ve found that this fear of rejection has often held me back in life. Whether it was in relationships, where I feared opening up completely, or at work, where I hesitated to share innovative ideas out of fear they would be shot down. It’s like living in a cage where the bars are made up of other people’s opinions.

But over time, I’ve learned that this fear is not a reflection of my worth but a relic from the past. It’s a constant journey to break free from this cage and embrace the knowledge that I am enough, just as I am.

6) Exceptional empathy

Here’s something you might not expect: growing up in an environment of constant criticism can lead to heightened empathy.

Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? But think about it.

Those who have been on the receiving end of relentless criticism often become highly attuned to the emotions and feelings of others. They can sense distress, discomfort, or unhappiness more acutely, and this sensitivity can make them exceptionally empathetic individuals.

While this might initially seem like a silver lining, it’s important to note that this heightened empathy can sometimes become overwhelming. It can lead to emotional burnout if not managed carefully. Therefore, it’s essential for such individuals to learn and maintain healthy emotional boundaries.

7) Difficulty in trusting others

Trust is a cornerstone of healthy relationships, but for those who grew up with constant criticism, it can be a challenge.

When criticism is a recurring theme in your upbringing, it can lead to feelings of insecurity and doubt. Over time, this can form into a deep-rooted fear that others might let you down or hurt you, just like in the past.

This fear can manifest itself as difficulty in trusting others. It may seem safer to keep people at arm’s length rather than risk being hurt again.

8) Resilience

Despite all the challenges and struggles faced by those who grew up with constant criticism, there’s one trait they often develop that’s worth highlighting: Resilience.

Life has a way of forging strength through adversity. The constant critique and judgment, while painful, can also serve as a crucible, molding individuals into remarkably resilient beings. They’ve weathered the storm of criticism and emerged stronger, more tenacious, and capable of handling life’s ups and downs.

Resilience doesn’t erase the pain of the past, but it does provide a powerful tool to navigate the future. It’s a testament to their spirit and the fact that no matter what life throws at them, they have the capacity to bounce back.

Final thoughts

Growing up with constant criticism can shape our lives in many ways. But understanding these influences can pave the way for healing and growth.

Remember, while these traits are common among those who experienced constant criticism, they’re not set in stone. Change is possible and it’s never too late to start the journey towards self-acceptance and resilience.

A great resource for those on this journey is my book “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”. It offers wisdom on letting go of past hurts, embracing change, and living a life with a healthy balance of self-acceptance and personal growth.

The journey may be tough, but remember, you’re resilient and capable of amazing things.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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