It’s human nature that when bad things happen to us, we struggle to get back to where we were before the event. We struggle to get back to our ‘normal,’ and for most people, this normal state is never achieved.
Some traumas are too deep and extremely life-changing for anyone to recover fully or to get back to how they used to be and how things used to be.
And we cannot blame anyone in this state. Dealing with and recovering from painful, hurtful, and in other cases, gut-wrenching events are tough. And whenever these bad things happen, it takes a long time to recover or to deal with the pain.
Some people never recover from the trauma while others live their lives with the trauma of their past hovering over them in a way that their character, experiences, and personality is determined by the raw pain and the effects of the trauma.
Understandably, this is the kind of pain we may not fully relate to, and even when you’ve gone through something close, it’s difficult, impossible even, we may never fully understand what they are going through. Empathy is, therefore, an excellent place for you to start.
But it’s not everything. Compassion, kindness, and patience have to be sprinkled in there, especially if we are going to take care of our friends, as well as strangers – Remember that we never really know what anyone has gone through in the past, hence the need for kindness all over.
Dealing with Childhood Trauma
First, we need to commend you for seeking the help you need to recover from that childhood trauma. Of course, we don’t know much about how you feel, not exactly, and we cannot change things for you, but we know that you are struggling.
To help make things a little better and guide you through the route to recovery, whether you are dealing with psychological or emotional trauma, we are sharing the content below to help you get better.
We also know that you cannot stop wondering and worrying about when it will all end and if you can put a timeline to the time it will take to heal from childhood trauma, but we’ll offer some potentially helpful insights here.
But before we take a deep dive, it’s important to remember that the healing process will take a bit of time, it will not happen overnight, and you have to be patient with the process and yourself.
That said, let’s get started.
What is Psychological and emotional trauma?
The emotional and psychological trauma refers to the trauma resulting from an extraordinary and highly stressful event, the trauma that shatters your way of thinking, life, and also your security senses by making you feel quite helpless.
This trauma is worsened by the fact that we live in a dangerous world. In most cases, traumatic experiences threaten your safety or life, but in most cases, the trauma leaves you feeling isolated and overwhelmed, whether it involves physical pain or not.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, childhood trauma refers to the experience of distressful or emotionally painful events or an event by a child, resulting in long-lasting mental, as well as physical events.
Often, the trauma occurs when the child experiences or experiences an overwhelming and negative experience during childhood. Examples of childhood trauma include:
- Trauma from something that was done to the child. This could be sexual, emotional, or physical abuse taking place either at home or elsewhere. Trauma could also result from experiencing or witnessing violence at home or in the family, and also experiencing violence in the community they lived in. These examples are the reason why people sometimes say that ‘You don’t know what that kind of stuff does to someone.’
- The trauma may also result from things that did not happen in childhood, for example, emotional and physical neglect.
- The other cause of interpersonal childhood trauma results from the child’s caregiver or the parent dealing with their own trauma, subsequently projecting the same trauma to the child.
In addition to understanding the forms of childhood trauma, it’s also important to understand the effects of childhood trauma on adults.
Remember that childhood trauma is one of the most common and often overlooked kind of trauma that affects a huge chunk of the population all over the world.
While some people go through life without knowing that their struggles are the result of some childhood trauma, others spend years in recovery, learning and unlearning different things that they’ve read about or have been made to believe about themselves.
Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adults
Even before we go deeper, it’s important to keep in mind that burying feelings and emotions is never a good idea and that when you bury those feelings, you will only end up burying who you are. And in burying those emotions/ feelings and yourself, these are the things that would happen to you:
The False Self
As a result of the unresolved trauma, you will be an adult leading life under a mask because who you really are is hidden/ buried somewhere too deep. Living as your false self is one way through which the wounds from the trauma reveal themselves.
Most people with hidden childhood trauma live blaming their troubles and mistakes on everyone else. Negative self-talk is another common side effect of unresolved or unaddressed childhood trauma.
For example, people who are brought up in homes/ households without healthy expressions of anger often end up leading life while thinking that it is an unacceptable thing to express anger or that anger must be suppressed.
Unfortunately, when you cannot express anger, you only end up suppressing your hurt feelings, and you will still feel angry. That anger, a natural process, will come out in one way or another later on.
This often manifests when an individual is abandoned or neglected by their caregivers in childhood. Often, this person lives with deep-seated anger, as well as fear about being neglected again in the future. As a result of this fear, the adult affected would isolate themselves, hold back, and abandon themselves, leading a passive life in the process.
How to heal childhood trauma
Wondering why we’ve gone on and on about what childhood trauma is and how it manifests in adulthood? Well, the truth is that for you to resolve and heal from the trauma, an understanding of what it is and how it could change you is important.
The good and the bad news about all this is that childhood trauma, though possible to heal from, will take a long (often painful time), and you have to be willing to work through the pain. It is a process, but you will heal.
Childhood Trauma Healing Steps
- Grounding – you have to be in your body for this to work
- Recalling – think back about the event or situation that recently made you upset and then found the source that provoked a strong emotional reaction or made you go numb.
- Sense the feeling/ pain – in a relaxed state, scan the body for sensations (a process called percolation). Doing this will stir up emotions that will start bubbling up inside you. Here, you need to observe the physical responses of your body to the feelings – these will present as tightness, tingling, or burning.
- Name it – this is an important step, and you need to name the emotions you feel with the sensations experienced. These emotions-sensations experiences include feeling heat going up your arms when you feel anger rising in you.
- Love it – this is a mindful approach towards healing from trauma, and it involves accepting everything you feel fully. It’s also important to note that whether the feelings you currently harbor are true or not (to your conscious), you need to love your trauma. For example, you’d say, “I love myself for feeling anxious/angry/ sad/ disappointed, etc. Do this with your hardest emotions tool.
- Feel/ Experience the trauma – just sit with those emotions and their sensations, letting the feelings freely percolate and flow – and don’t hide or change.
- Receive the message and the wisdom of the trauma – essentially, you need to think about the feelings and sensations you feel then look at their meaning in relation to the trauma.
- Share it – if comfortable, share those reflections with someone you trust. If you cannot share, write everything down.
- Let it all go – release the pain that came with the trauma by visualizing the energy that your trauma took up them feel that energy leaving. You could perform a physical release ritual, for example, safely burning the letter that you wrote to that person who hurt you. Anything else that works for you is acceptable.
Remember that high-level childhood trauma causes anxiety-related disorders in adults, even children, which is why it’s important to get help for healing.
While healing will take time, be patient with yourself and remember that you did not choose what happened to you, that you don’t have to run from that pain anymore, and that you don’t have to hide from the pain/ hurt.