15 phrases that suggest someone is still struggling with a troubled childhood

Everyone is different – and if you believe in the behavioral theory, it’s mostly due to our childhoods.

We all had different upbringings and some people struggled growing up more than others.

Most people manage to work through their traumas from their childhood. Even though things might still trigger them occasionally (mostly in relationships), they live a pretty normal, happy life.

But some people still struggle with the things that happened in their childhood – and it shapes their thoughts, beliefs, and overall ways of life…

If this is the case, and you or someone you know is still struggling with the past, you’ll probably recognize these phrases. Starting with the following 15:

1) “I’m not good enough for that anyway”

First up, adults who had a troubled childhood will likely struggle with their self-esteem. They won’t feel “good enough” or “worthy” of having good things in life.

This belief can affect them in all kinds of ways.

It can make them feel like they shouldn’t apply for the “good” college. Or like they shouldn’t go for the promotion at work. It can even make them feel like they shouldn’t go out on a date with the nice guy.

All because they don’t feel “good enough” to do things like that.

2) “I’m the only person I can rely on”

Another symptom of childhood trauma is hyper-independence.

Of course, being independent is a good thing. Everyone should know how to look after themselves and there’s nothing wrong with being very independent.

The problem comes when you don’t rely on anyone else at all. You don’t trust anyone in your life, and you don’t think anyone except you can be trusted!

Most people who think like this have experienced some kind of childhood trauma. And they might still be struggling with it…

3) “It’s not like anyone loves me anyway”

Feeling unloved is probably one of the worst symptoms of childhood trauma.

Your family being unkind or neglectful to you from a young age can make you feel this way – and the feeling can be hard to shake in adulthood.

When someone still struggles with those feelings, they’ll feel like no one cares about them. They’ll think they are unlovable and unworthy of love.

4) “I don’t have any feelings anyway”

Avoidance is another coping mechanism for people with childhood trauma. They still feel the pain of everything that’s happened to them. But they know they shouldn’t.

So, they pretend they don’t have any emotions. They act like nothing bothers them and that they don’t care about anything. It makes them feel tougher and stronger.

Plus, if someone is really struggling with depression, they might actually feel a little numb to their own feelings – namely the positive ones, like love. Which is another reason why they might say something like the above…

5) “I’ll do whatever you want me to do”

phrases that show youre insecure 15 phrases that suggest someone is still struggling with a troubled childhood

Certain childhood traumas can bring about a tendency to people please. And a lack of boundaries…

Which is why some people who still struggle with their childhood traumas don’t have any personal preferences.

They’ll openly state that they’re happy to do whatever you want to do – whether that’s in relationships, work, or just any social occasion.

6) “I’ll never catch a break”

People with childhood traumas can adopt a negative outlook on life.

Because they experienced something bad growing up, they think they’re destined to be unhappy. And they think that bad things are supposed to happen to them.

So if something bad happens to them, they think it’s just part and parcel of life.

They’ll even associate the most normal things as, “Another bad thing that happens to them”. Like missing the bus or getting picked on to answer in class…

7) “I’ve always been unlucky”

Again, because people who struggled in childhood can develop a negative mindset about everything, they might believe they’re an unlucky person.

Most things that happen to them, even the most everyday occurrences, feed this idea in their head.

Like if they have one class in the first period and one in the last period at college, they think it’s because they’re an unlucky person. Or if they roll a low number on a die, they think it’s “just their bad luck” resurfacing again.

Even though these things happen to everyone and they have nothing to do with being lucky!

8) “Good things never happen to me”

Another phrase someone struggling with a bad childhood might say is the above.

These kinds of thoughts all stem from how they have low self-esteem and a negative outlook on everything.

It makes them have – what I like to call – “negativity goggles” (although the experts prefer to call it a negativity bias!). Whatever you call it, it means the same thing.

They only see (and remember) the bad things that happen to them in life. And they perceive everything that happens to them as bad – when someone else might not see it that way at all.

9) “Why would you want to help me?”

People who still struggle with their childhood might also ask a few unusual questions.

Why? It’s usually because they haven’t experienced genuine kindness before. It can also be because they don’t feel like they deserve help with things.

So if you offer to help them, like with their move or to fix their fridge, they might be pretty suspicious of it. And they’ll want to know why you’re doing something so nice for them…

10) “Do you love me? / Why do you love me?”

phrases feel insecure in the relationship 1 15 phrases that suggest someone is still struggling with a troubled childhood

Another question someone who’s struggling with their childhood might ask is something like the above.

Most childhood traumas can make you feel insecure in love as an adult. This makes you feel like you need to know why and how it’s possible that someone loves you.

Even if you’ve been dating for a long time, someone struggling with these kinds of insecurities might always need that reassurance from you that you are, in fact, still in love with them.

11) “It must be nice to…”

In my experience, the phrase, “It must be nice to…” is seldom said kindly! It’s either said bitterly, as a joke, or just downright sadly.

Someone who’s still struggling with their childhood will probably follow this five-letter phrase with something negative.

You might hear them say “to be loved”, “to have a family who loves you”, “to have a boyfriend/girlfriend”, “to have money”, or “to have been on holiday as a child”.

12) “We didn’t all have a good childhood growing up”

People might be a little more obvious in showing that they’re still struggling with their childhood. How? They might outright bring it up!

If you’re talking about something you did as a kid – not to gloat, just in casual conversation – they might say something like the above.

They might say it light-heartedly, but they mean it very seriously. And sadly…

13) “If only I was normal”

This phrase might be said as a joke, too. Or it might be said in all seriousness…with a huge hint of sadness!

People who experienced childhood trauma might not feel very “normal”. They might feel different from most other people around them.

If they’re still holding onto the past, they’ll feel this way in adulthood, too. They won’t feel normal or “like everyone else”. They’ll most likely feel like they’re damaged, ruined, or just different.

Which leads us nicely to…

14) “I don’t need this, I’m damaged enough!”

Another phrase someone who’s struggling with their childhood might say is the one above. Experts say that people who experienced trauma in their childhood often feel “damaged”.

They might feel like this because they know they didn’t have the same experience as other people growing up. Or because they still get flashbacks to those darker days.

But mostly, they’ll say it because they’re struggling a little (or a lot) with their self-worth…

15) “I deserve it anyway”

It’s hard to hear a friend say this one without feeling like you want to cry! When someone had a bad childhood, it can severely impact their self-esteem.

It can make them feel worthless and like they don’t deserve good things or good people in their lives (which isn’t true, by the way!).

So whenever anything even remotely bad happens, they think it’s all that they deserve.

If something (or someone) good gets taken away from them, they think it’s because they don’t deserve to have good things. And that all they deserve is bad…

Final thoughts

When someone is still struggling with their childhood, it can show in many different ways.

It can show in how they act in relationships, how they look after themselves (or don’t), and how they talk about themselves.

If you know someone who says these things, they might be struggling with their childhood a lot more than they let on. And it might be time to help them out a little.

If you say these phrases yourself, it’s a lot easier to help, but a lot harder at the same time.

The first step to working through the past is to acknowledge that you need (and want) to change. So hopefully, you reading this means you’ve taken the first step already!

Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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