People are quick to refer to children as “tough” and “resilient,” or claim they’ll bounce back from most negative experiences. This commonly held view unfortunately ignores the reality and impact that childhood trauma can have on us – not only during childhood, but well into adulthood as well.
Whether the abuse was verbal, physical, domestic, or sexual in nature, the effects of untreated or severe childhood trauma can last long into adulthood if the pain is not acknowledged and treatment is not pursued. Healing from childhood trauma is not an easy task. The best way to address childhood trauma is through therapy, where you and your therapist can talk about these experiences in a controlled setting, led by someone that can provide insight into your past and also help you with your emotions in the present.
In the interim, there are several techniques that can be used to try to help you manage the emotions connected to childhood trauma.
How to Live with Childhood Trauma
Living with the psychological consequences of childhood trauma is difficult, and overcoming it is a process – not something that can be easily rushed. We are not defined by our childhood; it is simply formative to who we become if we do not make the effort to heal from those past experiences. These are some of the potential techniques for tackling your childhood trauma, and developing a plan to heal from it in the long-term:
- Acknowledge and Identify the Trauma – It can be all too easy to minimize or completely ignore the events of childhood trauma when examining your childhood. Pretending that it was a normal occurrence for others is a common tactic that ignores the issue in favor or avoiding uncomfortable truths. Also common is the tendency to blame ourselves for the trauma we received, when that sort of weight should never be placed on us now or when we were children.
- Develop Ways to Claim Control – Reclaiming control over your life is a crucial step in healing from any trauma, but especially harmful experiences from when we were children. By claiming the present as your own and redefining it to who you are now, you are able to keep your past from controlling your future.
- Don’t Isolate Yourself – When confronting hard truths like childhood trauma, the tendency to isolate ourselves or withdraw is completely natural, although ultimately harmful to our mental health. It is important to develop a support network for ourselves and reach out during the healing process. The people who are around us now are there to help, and do not represent the pain that was inflicted in our past.
- Look After Your Health – This may seem like a simple step, but it is one that we often avoid or fail at without realizing. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth in the morning or taking a shower regularly. A decent breakfast and clean pair of clothes can do more for our mental health than we know. The stronger we are able to keep ourselves now, the more effective our healing process will be over time.
- Give Yourself Time to Heal – It can take time to heal from a childhood trauma. We have to allow ourselves to be a part of the process and not try to rush something that has taken years for us to unpack and identify. It is okay to respond with innate defense mechanisms or feel hopeless and helpless along the way. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, but each day can be little bit better than the last.
Childhood trauma is something that many people will unfortunately never realize has affected their mental state of being. It can be all too easy to bury and normalize childhood trauma so that we simply never have to deal with it. Like healing from any traumatic experience though, childhood trauma is worth working through.
The healing process may not be easy, and may seem endless when we are in the middle of it, but the end goal is a perspective on all our life as a whole that is incredibly beneficial to us. Reaching out to your therapist to put together a treatment plan for you is a fantastic next step if you are ready to begin healing from childhood trauma.