An educational error leads to some people not learning self-love – and therefore coping worse with crises
- The first years of life are central to the development of psychological resilience, says physician Miriam Prieb.
- For us to develop self-love, our parents need to show us: Not everything you do is good – but the way you are, you are good.
- When parents teach this to their children, they learn not only how to relate to themselves, but also how to have strong relationships. These are the things that help us get through crises.
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Accept what is. Don’t fight the situation, make the best of it. Whoever has learned this has a clear advantage in crisis situations like the current Corona pandemic.
The foundation for this attitude is laid in childhood – and is called self-love.
"The early years are central to the development of psychological resilience," says doctor Miriam Prieb. Prieb spent eight years in a leadership role at a psychosomatic specialty clinic, where she was responsible for treating anxiety, depression and burnout, and is now an executive coach focusing on stress management and conflicts. In an interview with Business Insider, she explains why the early years are so formative – and why we need self-love to get through crises.
In the parental home we learn relationships – with others and with ourselves
We learn relationships through our first relationship experience: the atmosphere in which we grow up. As the parents relate to themselves, to each other and to the child, so the child learns to relate to himself and to the world. "When I come into the world, I need parents who meet me with loving interest from the beginning," Prieb says. "I need parents who open up to me and who don’t have a clear idea of how I should be, but who empathize with me in order to find out who I am."
Meeting your children at eye level from the beginning is essential. According to Prieb, it also means that one should not put her on a throne and praise her for everything. At the same time, it means not devaluing her or attaching certain conditions to her value. "In order for us to be open to ourselves, to be compassionate towards ourselves and others, and to develop self-love, our parents need to show us: the way you are, you are good. Not everything you do is good – but you, you are good."
The extent to which the lack of experience of loving encounters continues into adult life was demonstrated by a woman who sought counseling from Ms. Prieb due to burnout. She exhausted herself from a conflict at her workplace because she was unable to advocate for herself. In counseling, the woman recounted the experience of a mother who used to look over her shoulder while talking to her.
"Not looking at her, even in direct communication, was a symbolic expression of the fact that the mother not only looked away externally, but also never really saw the daughter. Thus, the daughter was unable to develop an eye for herself and, as an adult woman, repeatedly overlooked her own limitations, needs and necessities."
Why we need self-love to overcome crises
If we experience in our early years that our parents are capable of dialogue, meet us with interest and appreciation, and encourage us from the beginning in who we are, we learn to develop a relationship with ourselves. At the same time we learn how to lead strong relationships. These are exactly the things we need to get through crises.
"Resilience," psychological resilience, is the foundation for crisis management. It consists of the ability to have both a strong relationship with oneself and strong relationships with others," says Prieb. Those who are resilient meet the situation at eye level and try to do the best they can in the situation. Those who lack resilience go into resistance and begin to fight hopeless battles, which they exhaust themselves on in the end.
From when you should seek help
How strong the psychological impact of a crisis is logically related to our resilience. "Depending on how strong a person’s capacity for dialogue is, depending on how strong a person’s capacity for dialogue is, depending on how strong a person’s capacity for dialogue is, depending on how strong a person’s capacity for dialogue is, depending on how strong a person’s capacity for dialogue is. In the best case he grows from it. In the worst cases, anxiety disorders, depression or burnout can develop – for example, because conditions are fought against or the challenges posed by the crisis are so great that one cannot cope with them."
Difficulty concentrating, lack of sleep, a feeling of hopelessness, growing irritability – the warning signs vary from person to person. You have the feeling that something is rotten with you? "The important thing is to start a dialogue with yourself," advises Prieb. "The more you are in dialogue with yourself and have a sense of your balance, the more you can restore it as well. If you feel that you are not succeeding and if conversations with friends and family no longer help, then you should seek professional help."
We can learn to dialogue with ourselves
Even if the first years are formative, we can work on ourselves afterwards. According to Prieb, this involves becoming aware of what distinguishes strong relationships. Moreover, it is necessary to become aware of one’s old experiences and to work through the associated offenses, injuries and false beliefs.
"If I experienced a loss or betrayal as a child, or, for example, had the experience of being accepted only under certain conditions, then that shapes me negatively in my relationships. Crisis situations often lead to me being confronted with the old feelings of powerlessness – and with the associated convictions: ‘I can’t fight it anyway, I won’t make it, I’m not good enough.’" Recognizing and working through one’s inner blockages can be difficult. "The deeper the injury, the more necessary it is to seek therapeutic guidance," Prieb says.
According to Prieb, the Corona crisis can also be a chance to find oneself and what is essential in one’s life. "When you lose your business, finding yourself is certainly not the first priority. Nevertheless, even aside from the economic realities, that’s exactly what it’s all about – not resigning, but moving forward and looking at possibilities." A crisis is only mastered when one has solved the causes that led to the crisis – within oneself, as well as externally. When you have grown with the situation.
"Identifying what’s essential in your life, what’s really important, and what are real values – including your own. Therein lies the opportunity in crises."
This article appeared on Business Insider back in September 2020. It has now been rechecked and updated.