People who lacked encouragement and validation growing up usually display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

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Our upbringing shapes us in ways we often don’t fully understand, particularly when it comes to the impact of encouragement and validation – or the lack thereof.

We’ve all got a few quirks, but for those who grew up without enough positive reinforcement, certain behaviors are common. 

And the surprising part? Many don’t even realize they’re doing it.

This article is about those specific behaviors – 9 of them, in fact – that people who lacked validation and encouragement as children often exhibit. 

These aren’t judgements, but rather insights into how our past can subtly shape our present. 

So, let’s dive in and see if you recognize any of these patterns in yourself or others.

1) Constant self-doubt

We all have moments of self-doubt, but for individuals who lacked encouragement and validation in their formative years, this can be a constant companion.

These people often question their worth or abilities, even when they’re doing well. It’s as if they have an internal voice constantly asking, “Am I good enough?”

This is because as children, they didn’t receive the necessary positive reinforcement to build a solid foundation of self-esteem. 

Instead, they learned to constantly seek approval and validation from others.

The tricky part is that many people who experience this constant self-doubt don’t even realize it’s linked to their past. They simply chalk it up to just being part of their personality.

Understanding where these feelings originate from is the first step towards overcoming them. 

It’s not an easy journey, but acknowledging the source can lead to healthier coping mechanisms and a stronger sense of self-worth.

2) Overachieving tendencies

Growing up, I always felt the need to excel in everything I did. Straight A’s, first place in sports, school council – you name it.

While there’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence, my drive was rooted in a desperate need for validation. A need to prove my worth to those around me, and more importantly, to myself.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized this constant drive for achievement was linked to a lack of encouragement during my early years. 

You see, my parents, though well-meaning, were not the type to shower praise or openly acknowledge achievements.

This left me constantly seeking validation through achieving more and more. The irony is that no matter how much I accomplished, it never felt like enough.

Many people who lacked encouragement and validation during their upbringing display this behavior. 

We become overachievers not out of passion or interest, but out of a deep-seated need for validation. 

3) Overly responsible

This is closely connected to the previous point. Along with a constant drive for achievement, people who grew up without sufficient validation may also develop a heightened sense of responsibility. 

They may take on more tasks than they can handle at work. In their personal lives, they may feel responsible for others’ happiness.

This behavior often stems from their desire to prove their worth and gain validation through their actions. They believe that if they are responsible for everything, they will be valued and appreciated.

However, this can lead to burnout and resentment over time. It’s important to understand that it’s okay to set boundaries and that one’s value is not solely determined by their level of responsibility. 

It’s alright to ask for help, delegate tasks, and prioritize self-care.

4) Seeking perfection

The pursuit of perfection is another common trait among those who lacked encouragement and validation in their early years. 

There’s a constant drive to be perfect in all aspects – work, relationships, appearance – in an attempt to gain the approval they missed out on as children.

But here’s what you need to know: Perfection is a myth. It’s an unattainable standard that can lead to stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy.

Embrace your flaws, celebrate your victories (no matter how small), and remember that you are enough just as you are. 

Your worth is not defined by your achievements or perceived perfection, but by the unique individual that you are.

5) Difficulty accepting compliments

The funny thing is, when they do get praise or validation for their good work, people who grew up with a lack of encouragement also struggle to accept it. 

Instead of accepting compliments graciously or simply saying “thank you,” they may downplay their achievements or deflect the compliment entirely.

According to psychologists, people with low self-esteem often have trouble accepting positive feedback because it conflicts with their negative self-view.

It’s like their brain can’t compute the compliment, because it goes against how they see themselves. 

So, they reject the compliment to maintain the status quo of their self-perception. 

Understanding this can help individuals work towards gracefully accepting compliments, rather than rejecting or deflecting them. 

It’s a small step towards building a healthier self-image and embracing positive feedback.

6) Overly critical of self and others

Speaking of that negative self-view, people who grew up without encouragement have an overly critical inner voice. 

There was a time when I found myself being incredibly hard on myself. Every mistake, no matter how minor, felt like a monumental failure. 

What’s more, I was just as critical of others. This pattern really got in the way of making strong connections with others. 

It’s a tough cycle to break. But understanding where it comes from can be a game-changer. 

It’s possible to evolve from being your own harshest critic to becoming your biggest cheerleader, and in return, you might find yourself being more understanding and compassionate towards others too.

7) Fear of rejection

For people who lacked encouragement and validation growing up, the fear of rejection can be extra strong. 

The thought of being disregarded or dismissed can cause significant anxiety, leading them to avoid situations where they could potentially face rejection.

This fear can manifest in various aspects of life – personal relationships, career choices, and even social interactions. 

They may opt for safer, less rewarding paths to avoid the risk of failure and the associated feeling of rejection.

In some cases, this fear is so profound that it prevents them from taking any risks at all. They stay in their comfort zones, missing out on potential opportunities and experiences.

8) Need for control

Another common behavior displayed by people who lacked encouragement and validation as children is a strong need for control. 

This can range from minor things like organizing their workspace meticulously, to major aspects such as controlling relationships or decision-making at work.

This need for control often stems from a sense of insecurity. As children, they might have felt uncertain or unstable due to the lack of positive reinforcement. 

So, as adults, they try to control their environment to create a sense of security and predictability.

While it’s healthy to have some level of control in life, an excessive need can lead to stress, strained relationships, and missed opportunities.

9) Difficulty expressing emotions

Lastly, growing up without ample validation or encouragement can lead to challenges in expressing emotions. 

People who grew up in an environment like this learn early on that their feelings don’t matter or aren’t important. 

The result? They end up suppressing their emotions.

This can lead to a life lived under an emotional lid, where they struggle to share their feelings with others. 

It’s not that they don’t feel – they just find it hard to articulate those feelings, scared that they won’t be understood or validated.

This emotional suppression can lead to a sense of isolation and a disconnect from others. 

It can feel lonely and confusing, especially in situations where emotional expression is expected.

If you recognize this in yourself, know that your feelings are valid. It’s okay to express them, and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling to do so. You’re not alone in this.

Final thoughts: A journey towards self-awareness

We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it. 

Self-awareness is the first step towards change. Recognizing these behaviors in ourselves isn’t cause for self-blame or regret, but an opportunity for growth. 

It allows us to understand our reactions, modify our responses, and seek the validation we need from within.

With self-awareness and compassion, we can rewrite our narratives and pave the way towards a more understanding and accepting self.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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