Childhood trauma arises when we go through overwhelming stress that exceeds our ability to cope during our formative years. It could be the death of a loved one or a pet, rejection by a close friend, or physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Stress generates negative emotions that can distort the way you perceive yourself or others. These incorrect perceptions and shadow emotions linger on into our adult life unless you take steps to heal your inner child. So, what are the signs of childhood trauma? And, what can you do to heal and live a fulfilling adult life? Let’s discuss more below.
Common Signs that You Are Struggling with Childhood Trauma
#1: Dissociative Behavior
A childhood trauma survivor finds lots of things in their environment as triggers to re-experiencing the trauma. For example, the sound of a dog barking may remind you of an abusive parent who kept dogs. That sound will make you disconnect from others as your mind drifts back to the negative memories.
The dissociation and soul loss happen as a subconscious way for the survivor to cope. Mostly, it is those random moments when you are unable to connect to your thoughts, identity, memories, or feelings because, as the brain remembers how you felt, it triggers your body to freeze.
#2: Difficulty Concentrating
Do you find yourself asking those around you to repeat what they tell you? Your poor concentration or short attention span may come from your childhood traumatic experiences. Here, the trauma disrupts attention processes leading to gaps in your memory, blacking out, or difficulty maintaining your train of thought.
In turn, you struggle to keep a job, study, have conversations, or stay in a long-term relationship. Attention impairment can be frustrating. And, those around you may see you as arrogant. Yet, it is your mind crying out to you to deal with the unhealed childhood trauma.
#3: Extreme Desire to Stay in Control
Are you the type of person who plans for everything? And, do you get frustrated when things don’t go the way you expect? This extreme need for control is an indication of your distrust for yourself and the world in general. It stems from a childhood traumatic experience that left you feeling helpless and vulnerable.
Hence, over the years, you opt to micro-manage every aspect of your life and worry about things beyond your control.
#4: Extreme Fear of Failure
Having a certain degree of fear is healthy. It triggers your survival instincts, pushing you to make choices that get you out of danger. Often, childhood trauma can make you have a negative belief in yourself and internalize your shortcomings.
At this point, you develop unhealthy fear that outweighs your motivation to succeed. You will shy away from opportunities and stop being creative. Plus, it leads to perfectionism and insecurities.
#5: Fear of Success
Are you always holding yourself back from getting something you want? Is it that you fear what will happen once you get it? This fear of success is the fear of losing what you anticipate getting, even before you get it.
If this habit resonates with you, it could be an indication of your repressed childhood trauma. Think of it as a tendency to unconsciously sabotage your chances of success, originating from when a parent put you up for adoption or when you lost a loved one at a young age.
#6: Struggling To Ask for Help
After undergoing any form of mistreatment or abuse, many people struggle to ask for help. These individuals are too afraid to reach out to someone else, hence, preferring to suffer in silence. The fear of rejection, being seen as weak, or denied by those around them makes it impossible for the wounded person to speak out.
#7: Anger and Self-Harm
Do you lash out at people? And, when dealing with an issue, do you prefer isolating yourself from the rest of your family? Unhealed childhood trauma can cause you to become emotional, volatile, and overly sensitive. Further, you may take out the anger on yourself by abusing food, drugs, and alcohol or having suicidal tendencies.
Introspective & Spiritual Practices for Healing from Childhood Trauma
Identifying the above signs of childhood trauma is your first step towards getting the help you need to heal. Next, I share some practices you can pursue in your healing journey: –
#1: Acknowledge and recognize the trauma
Often, we tend to deny a traumatic experience, hoping it will disappear. Yet, it creates shadow emotions that disrupt your lives when we least expect it. Start your healing journey by accepting yourself as a former victim of childhood trauma. Acceptance is not about justifying the trauma. Instead, it is deciding that you want to deal with it.
If you are holding onto emotional pain and are struggling with anger or drug abuse, release these suppressed emotions through crying therapy. Emotional tears will soothe you and release feel-good chemicals that improve your moods instantly.
#3: Let go of your victim mentality
Here, you aim to reclaim control of your life by making choices based on who you are today, not your past pain.
#4: Ask for help
Here, you want to connect and share your experiences with other childhood trauma survivors. Build healthy relationships. Nurture healthy habits.
What bad habits do you have as your way to escape from your pain?
Start replacing them with good ones. Start by identifying the triggers. Keep yourself busy all the time. Also, decide on a substitute for the bad habit. Then, hold yourself accountable to a close friend or family member. Note that some habits like alcohol and drug abuse require professional intervention. For this, work with a therapist or your local support group to get the help you need.
#5: Give yourself time to heal
It takes time to let go and replace misconceptions, poor coping mechanisms, and shadow emotions from childhood. Journalize your healing journey and celebrate small wins.
Is childhood trauma holding you back from achieving your full potential? The out-of-control emotions, misconceptions about ourselves and those around us, or poor coping habits that leave us feeling helpless, ashamed, anxious, and depressed. If you recognize the tell-tale signs of childhood trauma in your life, it could be your inner child trying to tell you that all is not well. Then, make a conscious decision to seek help and start your healing journey.