How to heal from childhood trauma

If you experienced trauma as a child, it’s common for its effects to follow you into adulthood. You’re not alone — many people are concerned that their childhood trauma will hurt many aspects of their adult life, from intimate relationships to their professional careers. If you feel the same way, it’s most likely because the trauma you experienced so many years ago was left unresolved. The vast majority of people don’t realize they have had PTSD.

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What is unresolved trauma?

Unresolved trauma is a painful experience you had in your past that you haven’t dealt with. Trauma can be agonizing and returning to it, living it all over again, can seem too much to bear. However, when you don’t deal with past traumas, they fester in the background, waiting to rise back to the surface when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Read: What is trauma counseling and how can it help me? >>

Very few, if anyone, can resolve their childhood trauma on their own. It’s just too complex and too deeply rooted in who you are as a person and how you view yourself and everyone around you.  Everyone is different and we all manage problems in our own ways. So while you may have thought you had resolved your childhood trauma, the fact that it’s raising its ugly head again suggests otherwise. It’s important to work on unresolved trauma since it may affect the brain. In some instances, trauma doesn’t go away

Childhood trauma in adulthood

Childhood trauma can leak into your life years later because there’s still a traumatized child living deep within you. If you haven’t had enough support, or had the right type of trauma therapy, the child inside you is still plagued by trauma and will carry on suffering until you do something about it.

Your symptoms won’t always be present. When you’ve gone days or even weeks without any sign of them, you might think you’ve finally resolved your childhood trauma and can move on with your life. But when something in your life reminds you of the past event, or you’re under a lot of stress, the trauma symptoms return and you feel like you’re back to square one.

You don’t have to suffer this way forever. By being brave, returning to your childhood trauma, and dealing with it once and for all, you can close the door on it for good and move on with your life. You’ll need a lot of patience and courage, but it will be worth it in the end.

How to find a complex PTSD therapist? >>

5 ways to heal from childhood trauma

1. Seek support

It’s common to want to bury your memories of the past and/or isolate yourself and withdraw from others. But this will only make your symptoms worse and make it more difficult to resolve your trauma. Instead, seek the support of people you can trust.

Talk to a close family member or a friend who will understand. If there’s no one in your life you feel comfortable talking to, book an appointment with a trauma therapist or consider joining a support group for people who are managing their childhood trauma.

2. Accept your trauma

No matter how painful it is, it’s essential you acknowledge and recognize your trauma for what it really is. People often minimize their past trauma to make it sound less harmful than it actually was, or dismiss it altogether and pretend it never happened. The only way you can overcome your childhood trauma is to accept it happened and you were not to blame.

3. Take back control

Your childhood trauma can make you feel like you’re still a victim, even decades after the event happened. When you’re the victim, the past is in control of you. But when you face your trauma and conquer your pain, you’re in control of your present and future. You can empower yourself and heal and grow!  

4. Accept and let go

Acceptance doesn’t mean that you agree with your trauma and why it happened. Acceptance means you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to do with it. Refuse to let your childhood trauma rule your life. Instead, decide to get the tools you need to overcome your past trauma.  Don’t allow your bad memories and feelings stop you from living a great life now.

5. Be patient

When you experience trauma as a child, you can develop intense emotions, a sense of hopelessness, powerful defense mechanisms, and warped perceptions which can be difficult to let go of. It will take a look of time and effort to put those coping techniques behind you. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every tiny success along the way. You will get there.

Sadly, many people experience a form of trauma as a child. Many people also carry it through with them into their adult lives without realizing it. But you don’t have to accept your symptoms which burst out under stress or unpleasant reminders as a part of your life.

By reaching out and asking for help, you can finally prove to your inner child that they matter and you hear their voice. They’re in a safe space now, far away from the past trauma that hurt them. A therapist which specializes in trauma can help you connect with your inner child and let them know that everything’s going to be okay.

How do you know if you have PTSD? >>

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741