by Brenda

In broad terms, childhood trauma refers to adverse childhood experiences that affect one’s lifetime. More specifically, the National Institute of Mental Health defines childhood trauma as “The experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.”

Every adult in the world has had their own fair share of childhood experiences but not all adults suffer from childhood trauma.

While some have been able to move past their experiences to create strong personalities with good character and integrity, others have allowed their childhood trauma to define their personalities, turning cold on the inside.

But what exactly causes childhood trauma and how can we nip it in the bud beforehand?

For what it’s worth, there are 10 childhood traumas and they include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, mental illness, divorce, substance abuse, violence against your mother, and having a relative who has been sent to jail or prison.

People who lived through these traumas are likely to struggle as adults. Adverse childhood experiences, more commonly referred to as ACEs, cause childhood trauma.

These negative experiences shape your relationships and perspective on life. They affect how you interact with others. This is partly because they remain unresolved leading to a barrage of problems like anxiety, depression, and heart issues.

How can we nip these issues in the bud?

1) Process your thoughts- It’s easy to just sweep childhood trauma under the rug and say, “Oh I’m good!” But truth is, unresolved trauma will always resurface. You need to heal from within by first processing what happened.

2) Understand that it wasn’t your fault- Maybe you did something that made you the recipient of some form of verbal, physical or emotional abuse. But as a child, you didn’t know any better. How were you supposed to know right from wrong. You were too young! Don’t beat yourself up for it! It was never your fault. You had no control over the other person’s actions, they had control over their actions.

3) Heal and deal- Healing has a lot to do with how you feel inside. Now that you know you’re not the cause, start by forgiving yourself for all the guilt you’ve felt. Go on to reassure yourself of how worthy you are. You are not a mistake. You were created with purpose. Deal with those unresolved emotions. Cry if you have to. But know that what is gone is gone, you only have control over the years ahead.

4) Take charge of your life again- Maybe you had surrendered your life to the approval of others. You allowed people to walk all over you because you thought you weren’t worthy. Those days of self-sabotage are over. Take charge of your life and move in the direction of your dreams.

5) Do what you love- Maybe childhood trauma made you lose your love for drawing, painting, singing and writing. It’s time to feel those emotions again. Ignite your passion by focusing on what you love and what makes you happy. You will be glad you did!

6) Be kind to yourself- You may have spent years putting the needs of others before your own. Now is the time to indulge yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself treats every now and then. You are worthy. You deserve it. But do it within reason so you don’t complicate an already complicated situation.

7) Do something purposeful- Is it sharing your problems with others to inspire them to deal with their own? Or volunteering at a shelter to help people with mental health issues? Convert your pain to purpose! Take the energy spent in suffering and recycle it to empower others. Write, teach and share your story with people who may be tempted to make the same mistakes as you. Remember the past is gone, but you can create a meaningful future by contributing to the well being of others.

8) Therapy- I cannot overemphasize the importance of therapy in dealing with childhood trauma. If you want professional advice with practical solutions, talking to a trauma therapist will help you navigate through the dark parts of your childhood and proffer solutions for a healthier future.

You don’t need to be a rebel or people pleaser. You just have to know how to express yourself without acting out or seeking approval.

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