Your unhappy childhood

Parents try their best under the circumstances, but sometimes this falls woefully short of what you needed as a child. To live a full life as an adult, you’ve got to make peace with your parents and their shortcomings. Even if your mother or father did shocking things to you, they can’t heal you: only you can.

To Do

1. Put it in writing

First write a letter to you, the adult, from yourself as a child, acknowledging the pain you experienced while growing up.

Now write a letter back from you, the adult, pledging support, love and guidance to the child in you who still feels neglected, abandoned or fearful.

2. Be kind to yourself

Even if your own mother and father weren’t ideal parents, you can become a darn good ‘parent’ to yourself. If you’re in a situation that brings back childhood insecurities, talk reassuringly to yourself to allay your fears.



Why it’s hard: The group dynamic gives us a sense of belonging. Because you’re defying the norm, it requires a lot of courage and self-assurance to stand alone among others.

What to do: Stand up for yourself when you feel it’s important – but accept that your decision may come with costs.

The risks: You could lose a sense of belonging, and the support of your family and community.

The benefits: You may grow to trust yourself and your gut instinct. This, in turn, helps you become independent and assertive, and develop a healthy sense of self.



Your feelings

No matter what happens, you reserve the right to feel the way you do. Saying ‘I feel sad,’ or, ‘That makes me angry,’ doesn’t require a justification. You must, however, take full responsibility for the way you react to your emotions.

Try this today! SAY NO

It can be extremely difficult for someone who’s not practised in the art to use these two letters at the same time. NO.

Here’s a tip for the faint-hearted: it’s much easier to say, ‘I’m not sure what to say now. I just need to think about it and get back to you.’ This gives you the time and space to feel your emotions (Why am I uncomfortable with this request? Why do I feel resentful?), and to muster the courage to phone back, for instance, and say you can’t do what’s been asked – or, if you can’t do it right now, to say you’ll be able to do it later.