People who were raised by dysfunctional parents tend to exhibit these 6 subtle behaviors as adults

For much of your youth, your parents were (by default) probably the most important people in your life.

Now your parents could’ve either embraced their role as your guardians and role models; or they could’ve carelessly squandered that opportunity, and perhaps created a toxic, unhealthy environment that persisted for years. 

The latter case is not unusual. 

When our formative years are dysfunctional, as humans, we tend to pick up some bad behaviors; behaviors that become so ingrained within us, that we can’t just shake them off; behaviors that invariably always come back to affect us later in life. 

And not in a particularly good way. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the behaviors and habits of people who were raised by dysfunctional parents.

If these items resonate with you, consider it time to start taking action. Let’s get to it! 

1) They become hyper-vigilant 

When you grow up with shaky foundations, it can sometimes feel difficult to relax and be completely at ease. 

In a sense, you’ve been conditioned to be on your guard, always subconsciously expecting something or someone to go deeply awry. 

Sometimes, the anxiety of something going wrong disproportionately consumes you, making it difficult for you to relax and trust others; crippling your day-to-day ability to function properly. 

Look, as long as you’re breathing, something going wrong is always possible. 

You can go outside later today and get hit by a bus… but if you live in a state of perpetual fear, overly cautious of potential threats or signs of trouble, you aren’t truly living. 

You’re wasting your days being scared and preoccupied rather than letting go and being in the moment like everybody else. 

2) They have difficulty setting boundaries 

Sometimes, when you grow up in a dysfunctional environment, you end up lacking confidence and conviction later in life. 

You’ll lack firmness and poise; and have the type of personality flaws that affect your ability to set and respect boundaries

Maybe you’ll go to great lengths to avoid disagreements and confrontation, fearing potential fallout. 

Maybe you’ll become overly accommodating–which when left unchecked, can lead to some serious people-pleasing tendencies. 

And once you get into the habit of people-pleasing; it can be a tough cycle to break. 

Gaining the hollow validation and approval of others feels good… and for certain people, can be addictive. 

Eventually, you might notice yourself regularly going out of your way to make others happy, often at your own expense. 

Once people catch on (and they always do), they tend to take advantage… leaving your self-respect and self-esteem in tatters. 

And speaking of self-esteem… 

3) They have low self-esteem 

I’ve always envied people who grew up in healthy households. 

People take for granted what a blessing simply being “normal” is. 

For many of us who were raised in dysfunctional settings, “normal” is something we can only dream of; it’s something we have to work to achieve, on a near-daily basis. 

If we don’t put the work in, we end up perpetuating the status quo… which means maintaining a poor self-image and continuing to struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt

This is no way to live. 

I grew up in a loud, often harsh family; one who would criticize my every move growing up. 

So as you can imagine, for years I had incredibly low self-esteem. 

Even today, well into my 30s, I still have my moments. 

I want to be more confident, and more normal, but genuinely achieving it can be an uphill battle. 

This lack of self-esteem has affected (and limited) my relationships, my professional and social opportunities in life, and so on. 

Hardly ideal. 

4) They have a deep fear of abandonment 

In relationships, people who were raised by dysfunctional parents can end up revisiting some pretty toxic dynamics. 

One of which is a fear of abandonment

In this case, the person will feel and express a deeply rooted fear of being left or rejected. 

They’ll suffer from serious trust issues, always irrationally suspicious of motives and intentions. 

This in turn can lead to some clingy, needy, and overly dependent behaviors… which as you can imagine, will be quite a heavy, unsustainable burden for the other person involved. 

In extreme cases, their partners can get so frustrated and turned off that they leave the relationship for good. 

I think we all know of a few people who can get extra clingy, even irrationally possessive and jealous, in their relationships. 

I’m no statistician but I’m guessing that 9 out of 10 people who get clingy in relationships have some history of toxic, traumatic family issues. 

5) They become perfectionists 

My sister grew up in the same dysfunctional, unpleasant environment that I did. 

But she’s a different person to me; and hence has responded in a vastly different manner.

Since her childhood, my sister has been an overachiever; she’s been an obsessive perfectionist. 

And sure enough, these days, she’s an incredibly successful person… at least on paper. 

She earns a ton of money, she just bought an expensive home, and she has a bustling social life. 

But deep down, she’s still hurting–something you wouldn’t guess considering her independent and perfectionist tendencies

In a sense, by setting impossibly high standards for herself (and those around her), she’s overcompensating, unconsciously and relentlessly avoiding criticism and failure… the kind she regularly received in her dark formative days. 

6) They’re emotionally repressed 

As established in the case of my sister, everyone will have their unique ways of coping with a turbulent upbringing. 

Certain people may end up emotionally repressed. 

Maybe they grew up without a voice… something that became their reality, even later in life. 

Maybe they bottled up their anger and resentment and other feelings and emotions, however complex, due to the subconscious fear of negative consequences.

This can be mentally, emotionally, and even physically unhealthy for many reasons. 

And when you’re pushed to the limit, like a pressure cooker about to explode, you might end up lashing out in extreme, even violent, ways, perhaps burning bridges with family or friends in the process. 

Not good. 

Final words 

If the contents of this article sound familiar, don’t fret. You’re far from alone. 

But also know that your situation is likely entirely fixable… if you want to be. 

You just want to want it bad enough. 

You have to understand that, while not ideal, you just have to put more effort in than the average person. 

Seek professional help if you feel it’s necessary; there’s no shame in it. 

With enough will and determination, you’ll get to where you want to be eventually. 

And when you’re there, there will be no turning back. Keep going. 

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