What is Childhood Trauma and How Does it Affect You?
70% of the adult population in the US has been affected by childhood trauma in some way.
There are two types of trauma:
- Big T Trauma — e.g. death of a parent, sexual or physical abuse, rape, being a victim of fire, witnessing a murder and natural disasters (among others).
- Little T Trauma — e.g. being shamed, non-life threatening injuries, a breakup, being bullied (among others).
Experiencing a traumatic event without receiving the love and support needed to feel safe during or soon after the event can lead to developing various dysfunctional and unhealthy psychological responses as an adult. Your emotional system in the body becomes disrupted and does not work well as the result of this childhood trauma.
Research now shows that most addictions have their root cause in childhood trauma. Unhealed trauma leads to coping strategies such as over-eating, drugs, drinking, codependency, dysfunctional relationship patterns and compulsive sexual behaviors among other addictions.
Deep down you feel damaged, like you are never good enough and you do not deserve love or a great professional life. What is even worse; these patterns of experiencing childhood trauma and dealing with it in dysfunctional manner is likely to be repeated generation after generation.
If you are one of the many who suffer from unhealed childhood trauma, you may look normal on the outside, but on the inside you are a scared, lost child longing for the love and support you never received. As a result of childhood trauma you are filled with shame, guilt and low-self-esteem.
Despite your nice appearance and outward achievements, you feel like a fraud, an imposter. You think “if people only saw who I really am they would reject me.” For example, in the case of an abusive relationship – You question how you could have let him treat you that way and it just makes you feel more ashamed of who you are. “No one will want me now, I’m damaged goods” you may think to yourself.
When your emotional system is disrupted at an early age, emotional immaturity puts you at risk of all these dysfunctional patterns, low-self-esteem and pain.
Childhood Trauma and PTSD
20% of individuals who experience trauma are at risk of developing PTSD.
My success resolving PTSD symptoms with a wide variety of clients, and especially those affected by war-related experiences has been of the most significant outcomes of my work.
As early as WWI, psychiatrists and psychologists working with soldiers and veterans acknowledged that family of origin traumas were significant causative factors in nearly all who suffered from PTSD (earlier termed War Neurosis and Shell Shock).
They identified emotional immaturity as the most frequently observed source of symptoms of PTSD and many of these therapists became dedicated to promoting emotional maturity in their practices after the wars ended.
However, after each successive war, when peace was restored, the importance of healing early life traumas contributing to PTSD and the importance of achieving emotional maturity, were largely dismissed.
The term “emotional immaturity” became an insult rather than the unfortunate result of early fears and traumas that it is.
Today, many who have suffered early traumas and overwhelming fears for any reason exhibit PTSD symptoms in adulthood.
Why “Little” Trauma Can Also Affect You
Trauma doesn’t only stem from acute dramatic situations like car accidents or natural disasters (Big T traumas); it can also come from previous generations and small childhood traumas that add up (Little T traumas).
I have clients who tell me they had great childhoods without any major traumatic events, yet they still feel stuck and afraid.
Little childhood traumas may be caused by parents who were scared stuck children themselves. The parent may have been depressed, poor, alone or suffered form PTSD. In this case the child instinctively knows or feels that they can’t turn to the parent for protection. She quickly learns that her normal childhood needs would overwhelm the parent, so the child turns inward and internalizes the fear and pain she feels. This can lead the child to feel like they can never stop doing for others and unless they are constantly taking care of others they are not good or worthy.
Kids who sense directly or indirectly from their parents that they have to always be achieving in order to gain their approval may also end up feeling like they need to be constantly working. Both of these types may compensate for their childhood trauma by being a work-acholic.
Another way children are subtly traumatized is a parents lack of atonement to their child’s true nature.
There are 4 main energy types and 4 subtypes that people fall into.
People are often shamed for their energy type by well meaning parents who are trying to make sure we fit into societal standards.
For example, the child with a soft flowing energy may be shamed for always being late or labeled lazy and not doing enough. On the other spectrum, the child with an intense forward-moving energy, may be shamed for being too loud and labeled destructive.
These small childhood traumas add up and can lead to Emotional Immaturity, an unfortunate yet natural result of early fears and traumas. This emotional immaturity puts you at risk of developing PTSD in adulthood.
If you are ready to explore the possibility of healing your childhood trauma so you can reach your full potential I would love to support you.