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Family Myths I’m Working on Disproving for My Mental Health

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering.

You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

A lot of the work I’ve done in therapy has been to identify some of my family’s rules and behaviors that are actually not all that healthy. Many of these myths that I took for gospel were unspoken (although some were made pretty clear).

In order to continue to process my trauma background, I decided to make a list of the myths I learned and then think through what the facts are about each one. This has helped me see that I don’t have to be limited to the untruths that were present in my childhood.

Here are some of the big ones:

Myth: “You should never show weakness.”

Fact: It’s normal to get sick or injured, or to feel emotions (like sadness or anxiety). It’s a part of being human and a way to be authentic with yourself and with others.

Myth: “You’re lazy if you’re not working hard at all times.”

Fact: You can’t be working or productive 24/7. Everyone deserves to rest or take breaks.

Myth: “Your appearance is the most important thing about you. Your weight determines your worth. You should never leave the house without nice clothes and full makeup.”

Fact: You have so much more to offer besides just your looks. Also, it doesn’t matter to anyone else how much you weigh or if you decide to skip mascara for a day. Your heart is more of what people will notice rather than your size.

Myth: “It’s acceptable to give someone the silent treatment.”

Fact: The silent treatment is actually a really unkind and cold way to treat someone. It’s emotionally immature and harmful. You shouldn’t treat anyone this way without first explaining your feelings.

Myth: “It’s ‘normal’ to completely cut people out of your life or your family without telling them why.”

Fact: It’s extremely hurtful and unfair to cut off relationships with loved ones without communicating why. (It is important to note that it’s a healthy thing to do to cut off toxic or abusive people from your life, but, if possible, a conversation or explanation might be helpful so the person understands why your relationship is over.)

Myth: “Everything should work within the given family hierarchy.”

Fact: All members of a family should be treated equally. Each individual’s wants and needs are no more important or valued over anyone else’s.

Myth: “Expressing anything negative is complaining.”

Fact: Everyone experiences negative emotions or has problems in their life. It’s totally normal to need to express those feelings or to just vent to get stuff off your chest. Expressing pain, sadness, frustration and even anger is healthy.

Myth: “Needing or asking for help means you’re seeking attention.”

Fact: Everyone needs support at some time in their lives. Wanting attention or acknowledgment from the people in your life is completely normal and not something to be ashamed of. Asking for help is often necessary in order to function well or sometimes even to survive.

Myth: “It’s not OK to talk about anything unpleasant.”

Fact: It’s actually a good thing to talk about sad or difficult topics. Not everything in life is surface and sunshine — it’s OK to have deeper conversations that touch on serious subjects. It might even help strengthen some of your relationships.

Myth: “It’s OK to keep secrets.”

Fact: Keeping secrets only causes problems and it creates a sickness in a family unit that ends up being really hard to heal.

I know every family has their own dysfunctions, but the environment I grew up in allowed trauma and low-self esteem to flourish. I’m going to continue to work hard at relearning the truth of the world — that although there is darkness, the only way through it is by being honest and true to yourself. I’m hoping that by acknowledging these myths I just might be able to create a brighter future for myself. Instead of discounting and belittling everything I do, I will try to value my own experiences and emotions. The best part of these myths is that they can be disproven quite easily. So, the true task will be speaking truth to these lies continuously so that the only thing that matters in the future is a happier, healthier me.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Originally published: September 24, 2020
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