How many of you have longed to hear those words? If I can count how many times, I have heard that in sessions, it would be a very high number. Many of us grew up without hearing those words. I recall during my childhood thinking to myself, ‘Maybe today, mom will say, ‘I am proud of you’. Unfortunately, that day never came and now my mom has passed. Longing day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year to hear those words, but they never came. This affected my self-esteem and confidence because I internalized that I was not good enough to hear those words. Many years later and after some deep reflection, I came to the conclusion that those words were expressed but in a different way.
My parents are from Egyptian decent, hence there may have been cultural factors and their own upbringings that withheld them from expressing those words. Even though I did not necessarily hear those words from my parents, could there have been other ways that they expressed it without my recognition? My parents celebrated my birthdays, graduations, engagement, and marriage…could those have been their ways of expressing ‘I am proud of you’? We have to sometimes take a step back and shift our focus of other ways that those words were expressed. My parents’ financial and emotional support, meeting my basic needs, and guiding my spiritual life…could those have been ways that my parents were expressing ‘I am proud of you’?
Sometimes we tend to focus on what we did not hear growing up, but in which ways did we receive the expression? My parents were conservative and traditional in their ways of expressing their joy in my accomplishments. It does not mean that they did not care or love me. It was the complete opposite and now as an adult I can see that. I am forever grateful for the way my parents raised me and instilled Godly values and morals in my life. They provided unconditional love and valued me as one of God’s children.
The underlying support my parents provided led me towards my strong relationship with God, a successful career, loving family and marriage, and healthy interpersonal relationships. As much as I wish I would have heard the words “I am proud of you” while growing up, I have recognized that it’s not the words that I longed for, it’s the lens my parents saw me in.
If you find yourself struggling and feeling stuck in your thoughts of needing to hear someone, tell you, “I am proud of you”, I strongly encourage you to take some time and ask yourself why that is important to you. Through my own personal experience, I take the time to let my children and others around me that “I am proud of them”. I know how much these words help to improve self-esteem and confidence, therefore it’s imperative to let others know they are valued.