In the beginning, you were born and like all infants, you were completely vulnerable and dependent with the new developing brain and no understanding of the world.
In a perfect world
your parents would be perfect, they would be dedicated full-time to taking care of your physical and psychological needs, always making the right decisions, setting the healthiest boundaries and protecting you from all harm while preparing you to eventually take care of your needs without them.
In the real world
No one is perfect, either your parents nor the other people who play a role in your upbringing. Therefore along the way some of your developmental needs don’t get met, and the problem is when one of your needs doesn’t get met however big or small we can leave a wound, these wounds are known as childhood trauma each instance our pattern of trauma can create specific court personal issues and relationship challenges, if these are left untreated you’re likely to pass your wounds on to the next generation, since this trauma occurs early in life, it can affect : social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive and moral development.
it’s not always overt or intentional most commonly people think of trauma is coming from hateful perpetrators were knowingly and willfully abusive, but even parents who think of themselves as loving or well-meaning make mistakes, cross boundaries or simply do their best with a limited internal resources they have, and this covert often unrecognized abuse can through its constant repetition Lievens just as deep as those created by a single malicious act.
It can be an emotional scar, in your earliest years you’re the center of the universe everything revolves around you so wounds can come from caregivers were either out of control or completely detached from their emotions around you when mom is always full of anxiety and she’s breastfeeding, or dad comes home in a rage every time he has a rough day at work or step dad is depressed by his money problems during the rare moments he stands with you. You soak up these emotions like a sponge often erroneously taking the blame or responsibility for them. Even if a parent falls ill and passes away it can seem like an abandoned it was something he made happen if you’re too young to understand death.
It can be physical, most people understand that it’s not ok to physically harm or even spank a child; but here’s an example that’s not as obvious, any invasive medical procedure even something as commonplace as a circumcision or getting stitches may register the exact same as physical abuse if you experience it in your first few years of life, you may even start to distrust your caregivers for bring you to an unfamiliar place and not keeping you safe.
Often its intellectual, after the first years of life you start to separate from your parents in this period it’s their job to help you become your own person and competent to stand on your own two feet in the world here a whole new set of problems can arise especially when parents try to over control you have bitterly criticized you or unreasonably expect you to be perfect. Other families here to set a rigid rules that any manifestation of a child’s individuality is immediately attacked as a threat all these can lead to esteem problems later in life.
It can take over your entire identity, within a dysfunctional family system each child tends to play a different role that helps the family survived and detract from the real issues these can include the revered hero the trouble making scapegoat the neglected lost child the people pleasing play cater and the mood lifting mascot later in life these roles as well as birth order can lead to corresponding personality issues whether it’s the heroes judgmental, perfectionism the scapegoats explosive anger, the lost child’s low self-esteem to play caters denial of personal needs where the mascots impulsive irresponsibility but it’s not easy to see your own core issues you’re almost beliefs behaviors and adaptations have not just been reinforced by decades of habit but are built deep into the architecture of your brain which is busy building new neural connections at an astounding rate in early life as the same goes cells that fire together wire together. So trying to see yourself with any objectivity can be like trying to touch your right elbow with your right hand but if you can detach from yourself a little bit you’ll notice that the things you do and think don’t just come out of nowhere.
Here are a few techniques and tools you can use to better understand the way your past can interfere with your happiness your relationships and your life today:
You can work backward you relentlessly driving yourself to succeed and beating yourself up when you fail maybe that’s because when you were a teenager your parents made you feel as if you’re worth as a human being was dependent on your grades touchdowns or accomplishments are you out of touch with your emotions his step dad always told you to toughen up when you cried do you feel deep down like you don’t matter because you were often ignored Graham are you always trying to save or care for others because you were never able to save mom for her depression addiction are you in complete denial that anything was wrong with your family because Dad acted as if he were infallible and must be unquestioningly obeyed so criticizing him would be like blasting God getting the hang of this yet you can excuse my language some of you have a big bag of ships carrying around and every time you encounter a situation in which you can possibly get more shit to put in a bag you grab it and stuff inside million ignore all the diamonds glittering nearby has all you can see if the shit this shit is known as the stories you tell yourself examples include generalizations like I make bad decisions if people saw the real me they won’t like me or conversely no one is good enough for me each of these beliefs can be formed in childhood by respectively fault finding parents abandoning parents and parents who put you on a pedestal as a result you can spend much of your life misinterpreting situations and thinking you found more evidence to support these false conclusions formed in childhood one way to recognize when you’re stuck in your own story is whenever you feel less than or better than others.
Here’s a tool you can use to assess your own behavior there are three developmental states:
The first is the wounded child someone who’s emotionally frozen between the ages of zero in five.
The second the adapted adolescent was emotionally frozen between the ages of 6 and 18 and finally there’s a functional dealt with emotion image here so where the wounded child feels worthless in the adapted adolescent may feel arrogant the functional dealt get their steam from within where the wounded child is extremely needy and the adapted adolescent is needless to functional adult communicates his or her needs with the wounded child acts out of control and adapted adolescent is hyper controlling the functional dealt is flexible and moderate with the wounded child seeks attention and the adapted adolescent 6 intensity the functional adult lives in integrity and harmony where wounded children idealize their caretakers our partners and adapted adolescence feel disillusioned by their caretakers are partners functional adults are in reality about their caretakers our partners so ask yourself in a given week you exhibit any of the wounded child or adolescent behavior is here if so you may have either gotten stuck somewhere along the way your emotional or behavioral development where certain situations are causing you to revert to those ages anytime you over react to something by shutting down losing your temper sinking feeling hopeless freaking out disassociating or any of numerous other dysfunctional behaviors it’s typically because an old wound has been triggered and you’re regressing to the childhood or adolescence date that corresponds to that feeling noted the wounded child tends to directly internalize the messages that caretakers give while he adapted adolescent tends to react against them however not everyone reacted the same trauma in the same way and children are born with different predispositions and resilience he’s so if you remain loyal to people who abused and mistreated you that’s called trauma bonding if you only feel normal for doing something extreme or high risk that’s trauma around if you’ve developed intense self-loathing got trauma Shane if you find chemical mental or technological ways to know yourself in your feelings that’s trouble blocking and it goes on and on one pattern of trauma many different possible responses to it only scratched the surface at least you know the model were working with here it’s not about blaming my understanding in summary we each spend their adult lives running on a unique operating system that took some eighteen years to program it is full of distinct bugs and viruses and when you put together all these different theories of attachment developmental immaturity post-traumatic stress and internal family systems they make up a body of knowledge allows us to run a virus scan on ourselves and at any point to look at our behaviour our thoughts and our feelings and figure out where they come from that’s the easy part the tough part is to quarantine the Pirates and to recognize the false self and restore their true self because it isn’t until we start developing an honest compassionate and functional relationship with ourselves that we can begin to experience a healthy loving relationship with others.
The Truth by Neil Strauss (author of The Game)