Do you want to break old patterns and release those past versions of yours? You might need to overcome childhood trauma first.
Our childhood is supposed to be the purest, most magical, and happiest time of our lives, and yet, for so many of us, childhood memories only bring pain, shame, anger, and confusion. For it was when we had, for the first time, experienced trauma.
At a time when we were new to this world, blissfully unaware of its complexities, and our formative brains still grappling with concepts of love, care, safety, and nurturance, we came to know what it feels to be unloved, uncared for, unsafe, and unnurtured.
There are some basic incidents that come under the category of childhood trauma and which can have a pretty lasting impact on those of us who were subjected to what psychologists call an adverse childhood experience.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma is an experience of overwhelming fear, sadness, shock, vulnerability, and insecurity. Children feel traumatized if they find themselves in a situation where:
- They are in danger of physical harm
- They are being neglected or abandoned
- They are being manipulated (kids can be pretty perceptive)
- Their practical and emotional needs are getting overlooked
Although childhood trauma can also stem from one-off incidents like the loss of a parent, a natural disaster, or an accident, we’re here to focus on healing the long-term effects of repetitive and systematic abuse (physical/ psychological/ sexual ) and neglect dished out by a primary caregiver or a parental figure.
So, how to heal childhood trauma? There are many effective ways to overcome childhood trauma, however, you have to choose the ones that resonate with you and feel right for you.
You’re best advised to consult a mental health professional if you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of childhood trauma in adulthood. Below are just a few suggestions:
Overcome Childhood Trauma: 10 Ways To Heal Childhood Trauma And Take Charge Of Your Life
If you’re sick and tired of your past ruining your present and future, it’s time to grow beyond your childhood trauma!
1. Nurture Your Inner Child
When you were a child, what was that one wish of yours that was never met? What would you want to do differently when you become a parent? What was the most unfair thing ever done to you and how can you set it right?
When trying to overcome childhood trauma, finding the answers to these questions can be quite liberating. Do you keep buying plush toys for yourself that have no use?
Maybe it’s your deprived inner child making its needs met through you. Be more aware of these habits and do them consciously.
If you have children, spend more time with them, or if you feel spoiling your fur kids makes you feel happy, do it by all means! Just make sure you don’t overindulge in anything as a coping skill, like impulsive shopping or over-eating.
2. Ground Your Feelings
To overcome childhood trauma, it is important to distinguish between your emotions and your sense of self. You are not an angry person, but you might be feeling anger, right at this moment, and you will feel better after a while.
Sit quietly and be mindful of your body and mind. How does your body react when a memory pops up?
Feel each muscle tension and the ease when it leaves your body. Observe your thoughts as an outsider and try to see them as they come and go like clouds.
Emotions are fleeting and impermanent and so are the negative moods of sadness, bitterness, or despair that you might be feeling. Believe that they have little power over your life.
3. Revisit Your Childhood
This can be triggering but a very important step in your journey to overcome childhood trauma. Take time to recall those memories and remember the details as much as possible.
Think about what provoked emotional reactions in you as a child. Was it being ignored or compared to a sibling? Is this why you struggle with jealousy or insecurity in your relationships and at work? Dig deep!
And no, when you are mindfully doing it, it is not dissociation or flashbacks! So, don’t worry okay?
4. Feel Your Emotions In A Productive Way
When you’re processing unhealed emotions in order to overcome childhood trauma, stay calm when emotions start to rise. Feel the sensations, describe them to yourself, and associate each feeling with an emotion.
Name your demons. Can the uneasiness in the pit of your stomach be anxiety? Since when did you start feeling this discomfort? What made you feel better then? What can you do to make it better now?
5. Accept Your Truth
When you start trying to overcome childhood trauma, initially, you might get flooded with feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or grief. Acknowledge and accept them. Welcome any feeling of discomfort or uneasiness that you may experience.
This is not you, but this IS what happened to you. Own up to your truth and then find a healthy way to channel any pent-up energy of sadness, anger, or frustration.
Have a good cry if you need to or throw punches in the air, scream in a towel, write a story, paint a picture, or rant to someone you can trust. You can also write a letter to anyone who hurt you as a child, but not post it. Just let it out!
6. Discover The Wisdom
By now you will be able to download an insight, a message, or a pearl of wisdom that will advance you in your quest to overcome childhood trauma.
You will be able to identify patterns and unearth reasons behind your certain compulsive behavior. You will also discover healthier and more positive alternatives to some of your life choices and the manner in which you react to situations.
Have things changed? No, but your perspective did and this can bring a sea change in your life. You’ll see!
7. Share Your Story
Now don’t forget to document your new-found wisdom. Write down your realizations, revelations, and reflections in a journal or record them on a tape.
To overcome childhood trauma, you should also consider talking about your insights and lessons learned to someone else. It can be a friend, a support group, or your therapist.
8. Let It Go
Now, release it! You sat down with your feelings, had a good chat, and learned what it needed you to learn and address. Now is the time to let it go. It might pay you a visit later, and that’s okay too.
People who try to overcome childhood trauma often find visualization exercises and rituals to be very helpful.
- You can visualize your trauma leaving your body like a cloud of smoke.
- You can also try burning the letter you wrote earlier.
- You can take a few pebbles and throw them over a cliff or into a stream, imagining them to be your trauma memories and the resulting negative feelings and behavior.
9. Seek Help
We cannot stress this enough! If you want to overcome childhood trauma, working with a mental health expert will be the best way to go. Try therapy to heal childhood trauma.
Find someone who has specialized in trauma as well as your specific area of concern; for instance, eating disorders, depression, or substance abuse.
10. Take Action
Everything comes down to this. It’s your life and it’s your responsibility to make the most of it. Don’t let your past define you or haunt you forever. To overcome childhood trauma and take control of your life, you have to take the necessary action.
It can be any of the above tips. It can be talking to your parents and letting them know how they made you feel as a child. It can also be packing your bags and moving away from them.
It can be taking your medicine and not missing your appointments. It can be just showing up for work, for that movie date, for your support group meeting, and for life.
To overcome childhood trauma, it is important that we identify it and also understand why we need to heal from childhood trauma in the first place.
Long-Term Effects Of Unresolved Trauma
Some might say things like, “Your childhood was a long time back”, “You’re not a kid anymore”, “It’s better to forgive and forget”, ”Why can’t you just let some things go?” etc.
No matter how well-meaning those statements might be, the fact remains that healing childhood trauma is not an easy task. Anyone looking for ways to grow beyond childhood trauma must remember the following:
- Trauma experienced during childhood can be extremely damaging
- When we don’t process trauma right at the same time it happens, it gets stored as an unconscious energy within our system
- It festers and grows along with us as we carry it into our adulthood
- By the time we grow up, it becomes powerful enough to dictate our behavior and personality
- It keeps negatively affecting our mental health, interpersonal relationships, and career prospects till we take measures to address it
- Ignoring or suppressing our trauma memories only fuels the problem
- Gaslighting ourselves into believing that our parents did what they knew best, we did have a great childhood, and it’s all negative bias, doesn’t work either.
So, what does?? It is a proven fact that childhood trauma in adults manifests as several psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, and overall stress reactivity. Signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults often show up as:
- Passive-aggressive behavior
- Unhealthy attachment style
- Poor or distorted self-esteem
- Tendency to dissociate from reality
- Impulsive behavior or lack of behavioral control
- Victim mentality
- Substance Abuse
- Eating disorders and/or body image issues
So, basically, even as an adult, you’re the same wounded child who is still carrying a lot of grudges and resentment toward the world and you just don’t know what to do with all this pain!
Therefore, the question is how do you grow up after childhood trauma? You have to understand and process your emotions and then only you can adopt the necessary changes, not before that!
Can You Overcome Childhood Trauma And Regain Power Over Your Life?
Those were some of the different ways to help heal childhood trauma that we could think of! No matter how you choose to overcome childhood trauma, it won’t be a quick and easy process.
But yes, you will be able to overcome childhood trauma and it will be a rewarding experience too. You will free up so much space that your trauma used to take up and you will fill in those free spaces with your dreams, plans, and passion for the future!
Just resolve not to let your past hold you back or sabotage your potential. You owe this to your future self!