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How to recognize and overcome childhood trauma?

“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”

Danielle Bernock

Childhood is a special time in one’s life and holds immense developmental and emotional value. Our young and impressionable minds are deeply impacted by the smallest of actions, words, feelings and behaviours of our parents, caregivers and those around us. It is integral for parents, family members, caregivers and teachers to be mindful of their interactions with children and try to identify if they are experiencing any emotional turmoil because this has an everlasting impact throughout life. 

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.”

Childhood Trauma: What Contribution Does It Make To Interpersonal  Relationships in Adulthood? | by Esther Lee | Medium

Understanding and recognising the trauma

Sometimes it is difficult to understand that our thoughts, feelings and behavior is because of an underlying emotional trauma which impacts our adult life severely. The following can be some ways to figure out if you’ve suppressed an emotional trauma from childhood but remember that a lot of factors and situations interplay and no sole factor can be an indicator of emotional trauma. 

  • Unstable relations where you are not able to commit to your partner. You don’t experience satisfaction and true love in the relationship. 
  • Extreme mood swings, frequently irritated, agitated or angry.
  • Avoiding social gatherings or parties and avoiding friends.
  • If you stay aloof and do not like to interact with other people.
  • You constantly feel anxious, on the edge or irritated without any major stressor.
  • If there is a disconnect with the family and you don’t share a good bond with them.
  • Feeling like something is missing and having low self-esteem.

What can you do to overcome it?

  • Accept the emotions you feel. Do not reject them or suppress them. Channelise your pent-up emotions through the ways you find best, which can be by creating music, writing or painting. 
  • Listening to your inner dialogue and gradually replacing the negative and self-defeating thoughts. For example, Instead of saying ‘No one will ever love me’, say ‘ I deserve love’.
  • You are your biggest cheerleader. Practice self-enhancing self-talk like ‘I can do this’, “I am loved’ and ‘ I am healing’. 
  • Practice self-care and self-love. Do the activities that give you happiness, it can be painting, playing an instrument or going for a walk.
  • Set clear boundaries of what you like, and whom you talk to and be assertive (learning to say No).
  • Seeking therapy from mental health professionals. 

It is important to acknowledge your feelings, communicate your needs and desires clearly and not be afraid to seek help.

Remember, be compassionate and empathetic towards yourself!

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