Our expert says:
You seem to be describing a set of habits you developed as a child, and which you haven't yet shaken off. Maybe you can do it on your own, or maybe it'd be easier for you with the assistance of a counsellor. What you need to do is to declare your independence of her, and decide that the only approaval that really matters is your own --- that her opinion is in no way special or significant. From the sound of it, she may also have become locked into these self-defeating patterns, being, as you say, clumsy in social settings, and using put-downs of you as a way of making herself look a bit better. Maybe sometime she needs you to say : " Well, maybe I'm useless at X --- but at least I can make social conversations without always having to put someone else down !"
Practise putting on the brakes whenever you feel the need to modify anything you might do, out of consideration of her approval or disapproval --- pause, and say loudly to yourself ( internally, so as not to startle passers-by ! ) "I am an independent adult, and I don't care a fig what she might think --- I am going to do whatever is best for me." Entering counselling with therapist / shrink trained in Cognitive-behavior Therapy (CBT) would probably be the best option of all.
As you wisely notice, the habits have generalized from her, to a general expectation that leads you to expect the men and other figures in your life to be dominating and controlling. Actually, you're perfectly capable of taking contol fully f your own life, and you'll surely be more sucessful at being in charge of it, than when allowing the amateur and uncaring opinions of others, to determine what you do.
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