Research published on Jama Network says that: "Childhood trauma exposure is a normative experience, statistically speaking, that affects the majority of children at some point and subsequently has the potential to influence many aspects of functioning. This study suggests that these effects are longstanding – lasting 20 or more years..."
Ways that childhood wounds can affect adulthoodDepending on how long you have lived with the scars of a traumatic childhood, you might not be aware of the full impact it has had on your behaviour and overall mental wellbeing. As the years pass by, it’s not unusual to push painful thoughts or feelings into the background so they become trapped inside, never being confronted or dealt with.
Intense negative emotions such as fear, anger, shame and sadness will gradually begin to shape your future as an adult. Because we are often told that we shouldn’t express our negative emotions and we feel pressured to keep our problems to ourselves, we suppress thoughts and feelings which then rear their heads in other ways. Some examples include:
- Lack of body confidence
- Lack of social confidence
- Unable to maintain healthy relationships
- Unable to hold down a job or career
- Develop unhealthy habits to cope with stress or anxiety
However your childhood wounds have affected you as an adult, there are still ways in which you can deal with the hurt and begin to heal. Here are some ways which may help get you started.
1. Facing the memories and recognising your emotionsPossibly the hardest part of healing old wounds is revisiting what scarred you as a child, but this can be essential to progress positively. By making a list of what hurt you at the time, you can start to recognise and understand how it made you feel at the time.
2. Accepting your emotionsIt’s important that you learn to accept your emotions before you can move on from them. As you start to remember the past, it’s likely that you’ll begin to experience some of those emotions again, but this time allow yourself to feel them knowing that it’s okay to do so. Whether you feel angry or feel the urge to cry, try to release whatever is inside you. Also write down how you are feeling as this can become a powerful part of the process of letting go.
3. Letting goOnce you’ve completed the most difficult steps above, you now need to let go of all those negative emotions and memories. There are several ways you can do this.
- Try meditation and imagine all of that negative energy leaving your body and mind.
- Either share your feelings that you previously wrote down with a friend or someone close to you, or safely burn the piece of paper.
- Use your experiences or emotions to do something creative and positive such as writing a book or painting.
- Take up a hobby or a passion that you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been too afraid to do previously because of fear or a lack of confidence.