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Childhood trauma can leave a mark on you. As a child, your brain is still growing and developing. When trauma interrupts this process, it can limit early brain development and have long-lasting effects. 

With the experience of childhood trauma, the traumatic memories are not able to be processed. They get stuck somewhere inside of you as if they were frozen in time. This prevents you from being able to access them so that you can fully heal.  When they are stuck, they remain the same as the first day they occurred and as adults, we may experience the trauma exactly as we did as children, even though many years have passed. This is sometimes called PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

As a child, you may not have been able to recognize abuse, neglect, or other forms of trauma that you endured. You didn’t have anything to compare your difficult world to. As an adult, however, we are often able to recognize that what we suffered as a child was in fact, trauma. And it is only after this realization, that we are able to start our own healing process. 

Survivors of early childhood trauma may experience troubling symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Numbness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Trust issues
  • Feeling unable to move or cannot sit still
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Startle response
  • Hypervigilance

It is never too late to do something about your childhood trauma. As an adult, you have the power to make the brave steps to speaking to a therapist and finding other coping tools to live a good life. Once you know what those tools are, your past will stay in the past.

Here are 5 tips to Begin Healing from Childhood Trauma…

1) Don’t blame yourself for what happened to you

At the time your trauma occurred, you were just a child and children don’t have the psychological sophistication to discriminate between what is their fault and what isn’t. Many children will experience childhood trauma and then blame themselves for the trauma that they endured. They may feel that they must have done something wrong to deserve such punishment and do not see it as the fault of their caregiver or other perpetrator. They also may suffer shame and guilt around what happened to them, blaming themselves for the actions of the person who caused them harm. YOU are not to blame for what was done to you.

2) Tell Someone

It may be a scary thing to talk about a traumatic incident to another person. Whether it is a close friend or a family member, you may not want to worry them or tell them unsettling information about you that they do not know. But, who you choose to confide in, may know more than you think.

A friend or relative may have gone through something similar and may know how to help you cope. Your relative may also be able to fill in the gaps in your memory that they remember. It may help you to have a better understanding of your trauma if your friend or relative can help you better understand what happened to you. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

3) Join a Support Group

You may think that no one has gone through the same trauma that you have been through. The truth is there may be more people than you think who have been through the same things as you. Unfortunately, childhood trauma is more common than you may think.

Support groups will surround you with people who have gone through trauma as well. Hearing their stories can make you feel less alone and may even give you the courage to tell your own story, too. The people you meet can also end up helping you by providing you with resources and tips on how to cope with your trauma.

4) Get Yourself Moving

Trauma has a tendency to freeze you in a state of fear. By burning off adrenaline and releasing feel-good endorphins, you can actually repair your nervous system.

Try exercising for at least half an hour for five days a week or more. Find exercises where you move your arms and legs like walking, running, swimming or even dancing.

As you are moving, add a mindfulness element to it as you notice the movement of your breathing and the sensation of your limbs moving. This may help distract your thoughts away from the trauma.

5) Seek Therapy
If you are still confused if what you are experiencing is trauma, speak to a trained counselor about trauma therapy. Your specific trauma will be examined with compassion and understanding and both you and the therapist can come up with coping tools together that are specifically tailored to address the particular issues you are battling.  A therapist can help you piece together the events that occurred and also help you realize that you were not to blame for what happened to you. Processing feelings of shame and guilt within yourself by sharing them with someone who understands what you are going through can be important key elements to your healing process. A therapist can also recommend helpful books to read and exercises like journaling or other therapeutic writing that can help you express your difficult experiences and feelings about what happened to you.  If you can find the courage to share your story with someone outside of your life who is skilled at working with childhood trauma, you can begin your journey towards healing. It is never too late to heal and live a joyful and fulfilling life.

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