My father always told me I was stupid

While living in northeast Philadelphia, I got to know Nora, an older lady who owned a little convenience store around the corner from our apartment. I noticed how kind she was to everyone she met, but I also heard her repeatedly put herself down. In normal conversation, she would say very negative things about herself. “I am not very smart.” “I always mess things up.” “This store will never be successful with me in charge.”

Sometimes people say these things to get attention or to solicit praise and affirmation. However, Nora truly believed the negative words she spoke against herself. Furthermore, she also quickly deflected words of praise offered to counter her negative views of herself. Her words of self-deprecation conveyed the negative way she saw herself.

Finally, one day I asked Nora why she talked so negatively about herself. “What do you mean?” she asked. Sadly, she had spoken negatively about herself for so long that she was unaware of how it sounded. Although people often responded with compliments to counter her self-doubt, no one ever asked her why she talked badly about herself. Despite the good intentions of those who tried to encourage her, they didn’t realize that her receptor for words of encouragement was far too damaged for her to benefit from compliments.

The damage done to Nora had a predictable story behind it. When I asked why she talked so negatively about herself, she paused and looked down at the floor.

“I guess it goes back to the way my father treated me. He always told me that I was   stupid and would never amount to anything. Whenever I did something wrong, he would angrily ask, ‘Why can’t you get anything right?’ and I guess after hearing these things for so long, I just believed that I’m stupid.”

How sad to see Nora’s life defined by the abusive words of her father. A father’s voice should be one of the most encouraging ones a daughter hears. Didn’t her father understand or care about the way his abusive words would wound his daughter’s heart and send her into adult life imprisoned in self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness?

Long after hearing her father’s words, she continued to reaffirm his insults with her own thoughts and words of self-deprecation. Abuse casts a long shadow over a person’s life.

This is why I wrote my book.

(From Chapter two “What good will it do to look back?”) For other real life stories get a copy of my book: “The 18-Year factor: How Our Upbringing Affects Our Lives and Relationships”


Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in 18 Year factor, Abuse, Communication, Encouragement, Parenting, Parenting teens, Wisdom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s