How understanding your anxiety could change your life

Our struggles with anxiety very often stem from how we learned to manage life’s challenges as children. If you grew up with a parent who struggled with their mental health, it can have a huge long-term effect on your mental health.


Poor mental health is really something that has only very recently been acknowledged as a significant and widespread issue. For adults growing up as late as the 2000’s our parents are very likely to have struggled with undiagnosed mental health issues and may have just been referred to as worriers, living on their nerves, miserable, shy, standoffish, sensitive, negative, weird even a drama queen. The words depression and anxiety have only become a more socially acceptable language in the past 5-10 years.

There are lots of signs you may have grown up with an anxious parent.

1. Your parent may have been worried all the time, always focusing on the negative, they struggled to make decisions as they focus on what could go wrong. They always felt like bad things happened to them and they had no control over this. 

2. Your parents may have been extremely irritable and always seemed distracted. They never seemed to have much fun and never seemed that happy. They didn't appear to feel much joy in life and were always focusing on life’s problems. 

3. They may have been very argumentative or defensive, and very shut down often taking to their bed with no real explanation. You may have felt like they didn’t like you very much and they were extremely critical when you did something wrong.

4. They may have been really worried about what you looked like and felt the need to show you off to their friends.

5. They may have been much stricter than your friend’s parents which meant you weren’t allowed to socialise as much or were always kept busy doing activities.

6. They may have struggled with really poor sleep and had really unhealthy routines which meant they couldn’t always get up in the morning or you had to help get siblings to bed.

Therapy can offer a space to unpick where your struggles with anxiety stem from. It can help you to join the dots and reframe ideas you learn in childhood that the only way to cope with life’s challenges is the way our parents did. It can help you understand why they behaved in this way and what happened to them which meant they weren’t equipped with any healthy coping mechanisms. It can help you to let go of the resentment we often feel towards our parents for things they could or should have done better.

Obviously, there are parents who didn't have our best needs at heart but even then there were reasons they couldn’t parent in the way you needed. Understanding why can help you move forward and feel less anger and resentment for the trauma you suffered. This work isn’t easy but understanding our parents did the best with the information they had can be incredibly freeing.

Living in a time of social media and 24/7 news we are overloaded with information and that can feel like a complete nightmare for anyone who struggles to make decisions and spend hours overthinking. Breaking that cycle and understanding why you do this really can be the step you need to take to change your life.

As parents, we have the opportunity to break the cycle and raise the next generation to not be facing the mental health crisis we are in today. A chance to help our children to grow up to be healthy, happy adults, who know that the world is full of good people and life is full of exciting opportunities.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Brighton, BN42
Written by Natasha Nyeke, MBACP, Couples, Fertility, Maternal mental health,Attachment
Brighton, BN42

Natasha Nyeke is a Person Centred Counsellor who specialises in working with early attachments and parenting.

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