Childhood is our template for how we form our beliefs and values about the world, ourselves and our relationships. It becomes the “working model” for our brains. Often we learn skills as children to help us adapt to our environments. We then bring these “skills” into our adult relationships, it can cause many issues. For example, if you grew up in an environment that was scary or chaotic, you may have learned to stay quiet and out of the way. Now in adult relationships, you do the same things when there is stress or conflict - which usually isn't helpful. Strong adult relationships require communication and emotional honesty. Maybe you were shamed for expressing parts of yourself, so you have internalized the message that you are not acceptable to others when you express yourself genuinely and likely would be rewarded for acting in the opposite way. We all want praise and we learn how to get it, because it feels good. Sometimes we are very focused on the feelings and moods of others and put their needs above our own. This may have been a great strategy when we were children, to stay safe. However it is not a helpful strategy now.
Oftentimes these adaptive behaviours just happen without us even realizing - behaviours that were helpful as a child but not serving us as an adult. Our brains prefer what is familiar. Believe it or not, most of us are still acting the same way we did as children. We all want to love and be loved and many of us have a blind spot for what might be better for us now.
Trauma is anything that exceeds one's ability to cope and make sense of their experience. Childhood trauma can take many forms and goes far beyond what we sometimes imagine is trauma, like bullying, emotional neglect, growing up in a chaotic home, loss of parents/step parents, and the list goes on...
Physical or sexual abuse
Witnessing a traumatic event
Having a severe illness requiring surgery and hospitalization
Witnessing domestic violence
Experiencing intense bullying
Extreme situations like refugee trauma and experiencing a large-scale natural disaster
In therapy, we help people get curious about themselves and their behaviours. Often people begin to tease apart their past and make sense of their adulthood challenges. Unfortunately, they can be harsh, critical and blame themselves for acting in ways that don't make sense to them now, as adults.
It's important that you forgive yourself for the way that you acted in survival mode - when you look at the context of the situation, your past behaviour often makes perfect sense.
Being human means experiencing trauma of some kind. This is unavoidable. Life can be desperately hard sometimes. We can help you get in touch with your present self, and help you make some changes so you can find a way towards recovering from these experiences. You may have learned that it's shameful to ask for help and that you should be able to figure things out on your own. Of course, this is not true. We know that healing can come if you are not being abandoned, shamed or left alone to cope with these experiences by yourself. There's a good chance that anyone who makes you feel ashamed for seeking help is actually in conflict with their own need for support and love.
We can help you work through your childhood trauma, whether you are a child or an adult.
Laura, Clinical Therapist
We're here if you want to talk :) Take the first step and call us for an appointment ...(506) 651-1239