Whether you witnessed or experienced violence as a child or your caretakers emotionally or physically neglected you, when you grow up in a traumatizing environment you are likely still to show signs of that trauma as an adult.
Children make meaning out of the events they witness and things that happen to them, and they create an internal map of how the world is. This meaning-making helps them cope. But if children don’t create a new internal map as they grow up, their old way of interpreting the world can damage their ability to function as adults.
While there are many after effects of childhood emotional trauma, here we’ll look specifically at four ways childhood emotional trauma impacts us as adults.
- The False Self
As a childhood emotional trauma therapist in Santa Monica, I see many patients who carry childhood emotional wounds with them into adulthood. One way these wounds reveal themselves is through the creation of a false self.
As children, we want our parents to love and take care of us. When our parents don’t do this, we try to become the kind of child we think they’ll love. Burying feelings that might get in the way of us getting our needs met, we create a false self: the person we present to the world.
When we bury our emotions, we lose touch with who we really are because our feelings are an integral part of us. We live our lives terrified that if we let the mask drop, we’ll no longer be cared for, loved, or accepted.
The best way to uncover the authentic you underneath the false self is by talking to a therapist who specializes in childhood emotional trauma. A good therapist can help you reconnect with your feelings and express your emotions in a way that makes you feel both safe and whole.
- Victimhood Thinking
What we think and believe about ourselves drives our self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves can empower or disempower us. Negative self-talk disempowers us and makes us feel like we have no control over our lives, like victims. We may have been victimized as children, but we don’t have to remain victims as adults.