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9 Ways to Get Over Childhood Trauma

9 Ways to Get Over Childhood Trauma

“It’s up to us to break generational curses. When they say, ‘It runs in the family,’ you tell them, ‘This is where it runs out.’” ~Unknown

It was trauma that I didn’t know I had. It was part of my daily life. It was my normal. I was raised in a world that required me to walk on eggshells and be alert for danger.

I held my breath and always did my best to be good and to not cause an eruption of my dad’s temper. Fear was the only thing that controlled me. I was willing to do anything to feel secure and please him.

My mum and grandmothers taught me as a child that women must be submissive to their men. Men could do anything; they could get drunk, not pay their bills, blame, shame and abuse their wives and they would still stay.

They would allow their children hurt as much as men. I didn’t grow up in a violent home, but there was always the threat of it.

For decades, it was those words that haunted my soul. They reduced my self-worth.

Because of this fear, I became afraid of men. As an adult, I was unconsciously single because I believed that men were not safe.

Every man I met confirmed this belief. I was determined that I wouldn’t bring children into a home like the one I grew up in. But I wasn’t attracted by healthy men so staying single was the best thing for me.

I was very lonely because of this belief and my need to be safe. I just didn’t trust myself to not repeat the cycle I grew up watching. This was especially true since I was attracted by men who had similar emotional incapabilities to my dad.

I wanted to be loved but I was afraid. I took baby steps to end the cycle in my family. Although my dream was to have children, I was determined to create a safe and nurturing home for them.

I was unaware of what this meant. It was normal for me to experience the silent treatment or verbal abuse if I didn’t do as Dad wanted. If I did what he asked, he would love me and give me a little bit of his affection.

I was able to share a little bit of my love. I was not afraid to be walked around and treated poorly. As I didn’t know what normal and healthy was, I needed to embark on a healing journey.

These are my top tips to break the cycle.

1. Learn to recognize the generational traumas in your story.

Small children often blame themselves for how they are treated. However, there are many factors that can explain why parents behave as they do. It’s not our fault.

Review the traumas that each parent and grandparent has experienced. Consider the country from which your family hails to see the more serious traumas your grandparents endured, including poverty, war, and political issues. What happened in each person’s life to make them feel unsafe?

It’s likely that your parents and grandparents didn’t seek help and therefore remained stuck in survival mode. This is where you were born and raised.

This helps you understand their story. You don’t have to forgive them if you don’t want to because you deserved way better. They brought you up in the only way they knew. They didn’t know how to regulate their nervous systems and take care of themselves, and that is what they taught you.

2. Reparent your inner child.

Take a look at the experiences you had as a child, from birth through age seven. These are the years your brain and nervous system developed. Your brain was taking in information on what was a perceived ‘threat’ and what felt unsafe.

For instance, my upbringing was dominated by arguing. This made me fearful of the voices that would rise above me. This is a childhood injury.

I no longer feel trapped by fear in my adult lives. Instead, I am now able to repent my inner child. I picture myself going back in my past to the place where I felt unsafe or afraid, and giving my inner-child what she needs. You might need some love, validation, and reassurance. Just let her know that she is safe.

This will calm the nervous system and help heal past wounds.

3. Revisit the family survival strategy.

Our parents have their own survival programs. My father learned to shout and control when feeling unsafe or his nervous systems were dysregulated. In an attempt to feel safe, I learned to be frightened and please. We didn’t have any choice but to use these survival programs as children. We were dependent on them.

As adults, they can cause us to have problems with our self-love, healthy relationships, and overall well-being.

Take a moment and reflect on each family member’s survival programs. What were they doing during childhood when you felt unsafe or your emotions were high?

These behaviors are learned and not natural. It is important to recognize the habits that are hindering your survival and keeping you stuck.

Here are some examples of behavior that is a result of the nervous system responding:

  • Fight – control to connect and rage to feel safe e.g., narcissistic, explosive, controlling, entitled; a bully, a sociopath; demands perfection
  • Flight – perfect to connect and be safe e.g., OCD; adrenaline junkie, busy-aholic, workaholic; rushing, worrying, overachieving; compelled by perfectionism
  • Freeze – avoids connection and hides to be safe e.g., dissociative, hiding; hermit, couch potato; achievement-phobic, relationship avoidant
  • Fawn – merge with others to connect and grovel to be safe e.g., codependent, slave, doormat, domestic violence victim, parentified child, little adult, people-pleaser, relationship addict

4. Make a change in your behaviour.

Once we’re aware of our unconscious toxic behaviors we can begin to take baby steps to change them. As we take small steps every day, over time, we’ll create new positive habits.

We must first look at the behavior that we want to change. People-pleasing can be a sign of a weak nervous system. You could create a new habit of pauseing for half an hour before agreeing to something. This pause allows us to do something that makes our heart happy and then we can make a decision about whether we really want to say yes.

5. Get assistance.

The past’s pain can be lifted if we cease using old ways of numbing our feelings. They can disappear in 90 seconds if we just sit down and feel them. However, this initial feeling can be overwhelming and scary.

To help you, create a support network. You might consider coaching, therapy, support groups, mentoring, or even coaching. It doesn’t matter how you get support, just that it makes you feel safe. It can be beneficial to work with others who are on the same healing journey as you, so they can offer tools and support.

6. Daily practices are a great way to heal your nervous system.

This is the most important thing. This will allow you to have a moment each day when your nervous system is at ease. Choose activities that make it easy to feel relaxed and secure. Everyone is different so what works for one person might not work well for another.

Begin with only fifteen minutes, and then increase your time. As an example, you could meditate, dance, listen to your favorite music and journal, or lie on the grass.

You will begin to notice the triggers that are causing you to lose your calm when you make it a daily habit. Do you feel it is too much? Oder a specific relationship? When we are unconsciously moving through life we can’t tell!

Then you can start to use tools to calm down your emotions when they get out of control. You might try breathing, or reparenting with your inner child to help you get back in balance.

7. Do self-compassion.

The process of changing from unhealthy behaviors to healthier ones is difficult and bumpy. You may regress. It is possible to get frustrated with your self. Through it all, be kind to yourself. You’re trying to unlearn generations of behaviors. It takes time to reprogram your subconscious mind. But you’ll start to see the results.

Celebrate every tiny win, like “I did my breathing today,” and notice how these new behaviors make you feel.

8. Learn to love yourself.

As children of dysfunctional families, our need for validation and external validation is greater than what we might have received as children. All the love that we desire from others can be given to us. You can speak with kindness to yourself and show love. Validating ourselves. Take care of yourself, your mind, body, soul.

Imagine your inner child, and imagine yourself loving them. You can nurture, hold, and show love to them.

9. Get rid of any negative beliefs.

Many beliefs are passed down from our families. For example, a belief that I got from my childhood was “failure is not an option” because it was quite literally unsafe to fail! When I noticed that voice in my head a few times, I realized this was not my own but my dad’s.

My belief system is different. Failure is part of learning and healing. This belief makes me feel better, so I repeat it often while holding my heart.

Are there beliefs that you believe in but don’t hold? What is a more powerful belief that will support you in your journey? Keep repeating it until it becomes part of your subconscious.

No matter what happened in the past you can create a better future.

Be a cyclebreaker with me. It’s where the happiness is at.

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About Manpreet Bernie

Manpreet is the creator of a podcast called Heart’s Happiness where she talks about intergenerational trauma and is also a coach who helps people make peace with their past and rewrite their story by learning how to love themselves and their inner child. Get her free masterclass Freedom from Anxiety. Also, take her signature course Take back your Power to break the cycle in your family. Her website has more details. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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Tiny Buddha published the post You Can Be the Cyclebreaker: 9 Ways To Heal Childhood Trauma.

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