Childhood trauma is common, with more than two-thirds of children reporting at least one traumatic event by the time they are sixteen. Although there are many childhood trauma causes, ranging from the sudden loss of a loved one to severe accidents, one in seven children experience child abuse and/or neglect. Sadly, SAMHSA believes this figure is likely an underestimate.
The implications of childhood trauma can last well beyond your youthful years. Research shows that victims of childhood trauma can experience learning problems, can have an increased risk of long-term health issues, an increased use of mental health services, and greater involvement with the child welfare and justice systems.
Unresolved childhood trauma is also a significant risk factor for nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders.
If you have suffered in silence or your difficult childhood has led to ongoing mental health concerns or a worsening addiction, now is the time to take action. When wondering how to overcome your childhood, know that help is available — regardless of your current age.
If you’ve been searching for how to overcome your childhood, one of the first steps toward recovery involves recognizing trauma. In some cases, adults struggling with their mental health aren’t even aware they suffered trauma.
“Trauma” doesn’t just mean extreme acts of violence or the lasting effects of a war. The term trauma encompasses any significant negative event or incident that shaped you into who you are today. In response to this unhealed childhood trauma, you may develop key warning signs in adulthood.
Recognizing trauma is not always a simple process. Sometimes, it is others that recognize there’s an issue. For example, childhood trauma can impact how you form romantic relationships later in life. Data shows that those who experienced unresolved childhood trauma are more likely to exhibit attachment styles that are dismissive, fearful, and preoccupied.
Other signs of unresolved childhood trauma include:
This step can be challenging. Acknowledging your childhood trauma for what it is can be painful. However, being able to accept your experiences for what they are means working toward a path of healing.
If you minimize the severity of your trauma or pretend that it didn’t happen, you will hold that hurt inside. Over the years, those internalized experiences can turn into feelings of self-blame, shame, or guilt. You need to accept that your childhood trauma happened and that it wasn’t your fault.
You can reclaim control.
Research shows that trauma, whether one-time, multiple, or long-lasting repetitive events, affects everyone differently. There isn’t a simple solution if you’re wondering how to overcome your childhood. There are many variables to consider, including sociocultural factors, developmental processes, your characteristics, the type of event, etc.
Identifying your trauma triggers is crucial, especially when aiming to reduce the frequency and severity of intrusive thoughts and strong emotional reactions.
A trauma trigger is any stimulus that sets off a memory of the trauma you experienced. It can be a smell, temperature, noise, visual scene, or other sensory reminders. For example, your children reaching the same age as your trauma may trigger a response or being alone. It is also common for triggers to be connected to the time of day, season, the anniversary of an event, or holiday.
Identifying and addressing trauma triggers is a critical component of treatment. You can develop coping strategies to manage when a trigger occurs. The development of such strategies can be a powerful and empowering experience.
Over time, you may have developed coping mechanisms that are unhealthy. These bad habits can worsen triggers, either because you’re placing yourself in vulnerable situations (e.g., participating in risky sex) or are not supporting your well-being (e.g., developing poor nutritional habits or relying heavily on substances of abuse).
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach here, so you must seek individualized treatment. Working one-on-one with a trauma specialist will allow you to access evidence-based treatment options, such as psychotherapy for trauma. Throughout your treatment process, you will work through your personal triggers, focusing on what they are, how your current habits contribute to those triggers, and how to move in a healthier, more positive direction.
Learning to distance yourself from your childhood trauma is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, patience, and ongoing support. However, learning to self-distance, or view oneself from a third-person perspective, can help reduce reactivity when analyzing your feelings.
The positive effects of self-distancing have been thoroughly studied among those with post-traumatic stress disorder, showcasing the potential reduction of intense emotional and physiological reactions to traumatic memories.
The key is to not fall into a pattern of emotional avoidance. Instead, you must learn to feel more grounded and in control, placing distance between you and the feelings or memories that cause distress.
When seeking support for how to overcome your childhood trauma, it’s important to seek trauma-focused treatment. A trauma treatment program is designed to make you feel emotionally and physically safe while providing effective treatment.
Based on your unique needs, experiences, and goals, you will have access to many treatment options, ranging from psychotherapy for trauma (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy) to group and family therapy. Dual diagnosis treatment is also available if you struggle with unresolved trauma and substance abuse — for example, treating PTSD alongside addiction.
If you or your loved one would benefit from childhood trauma treatment, professional support is available, including Corner Canyon Health Centers’ residential trauma treatment program. Your road to recovery can begin today — we’re here to help you every step of the way. Contact us with any questions you may have and let’s get started.