For a long time now, the way our environment shapes us as people has been highly underestimated by society. It may come as a surprise that one of the most common reasons that adults suffer from mental health issues today is a result of unresolved childhood trauma. Almost every problem we face in adulthood can be traced back to adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and the false beliefs that we form as a result.
CDC research has found that over 60% of American adults have experienced at least one ACE. ACE is a term for potentially traumatic events that happen in childhood. An ACE can include emotional abuse, neglect, a dysfunctional household, and many other factors. These potential traumas that are experienced in childhood increase the risk of almost every problem in adulthood, including mental health, substance abuse, and even chronic illness.
For adults with unresolved childhood trauma, navigating the world is more frustrating than it is for those without. Negative and impactful events of your adolescent past often get internalized and mistaken as a determination of your worth. Trauma-focused therapy can help you resolve these early formed beliefs that leave you shackled to your past.
It can be hard to grasp how the problems we face as adults are deeply impacted by our past. The effects can range from very subtle to extremely obvious, due to the natural nuances of trauma. Recognizing the ways that your childhood can impact your behavior in the future can help you begin to heal the unresolved emotional wounds that are stored from these negative experiences.
Your overall perception of the world and the core beliefs you hold can carry a lot of insight on the impact of your childhood as you get older. If your parents expected perfection from you, there’s a chance you feel unworthy when you make a mistake. Growing up around anxiety and emotional instability can develop a core belief that the world is a dangerous and unsafe place. These subtle beliefs that are often carried into adulthood play a major role in our mental health.
Here are some of the ways trauma can impact your behavior and beliefs as an adult:
If you struggle with the experiences of your past, you’re not alone. Trauma is a universal experience that has a profound effect on mental health today. Healing is possible, and therapy for treating childhood trauma has come a long way in breaking this cycle of poor mental health and the impact it has on our lives as adults. There are many ways to begin healing from the experiences of our past.
Even people with seemingly normal and happy childhoods can experience some form of trauma. For some, it can feel wrong to acknowledge that something about it affected you negatively. It’s even common to minimize the significance of your feelings and deny the affect it has on your life.
The first step of healing from trauma is accepting that it happened. Get in touch with your childhood memories and recognize how they’ve impacted your life. From a place of recognition, you can begin to understand the anxiety and depression that gets triggered in your present life.
Being extremely critical of yourself stems from negative experiences as a child. In fact, a common symptom of PTSD is self-blame. It’s important to recognize that you were never responsible for creating a safe and loving environment for yourself as a child. Stop blaming yourself for the safety your parents never created for you.
Resentment at the people who’ve wronged you makes it hard to move on from the experiences you had with them. Holding onto resentment is damaging to your own mental and physical health. If you wait for an apology from those who’ve hurt you – you’ll only hurt yourself. Find a way to forgive the experiences that have kept you stuck and the people who caused them.
The coping mechanisms and behaviors you’ve developed as a child are hard to let go of. In a way, they are the way you’ve kept yourself safe over the years. Undoing childhood trauma is a lifelong process, so celebrate small milestones and be patient with yourself when you aren’t perfect.
It can be helpful to imagine being the parent you needed when you were a child. Give yourself the grace that you never received when you were younger. Healing from trauma takes time and effort and can’t be rushed.
You are not meant to hold onto the past, but you are meant to learn and grow from it. Everyone deserves to feel free from the experiences of the past so they can live a better life in the present. Working with a trauma-informed therapist can be the key difference in your healing journey. Recognizing the impact of childhood trauma in therapy is important for the relationship between the client and the therapist and gives you a safe space to heal once and for all.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.