If you experienced emotional trauma as a child, there are some things that can help you overcome it and live a happy life.
Not everyone has had a stellar childhood. Some children lose one or both of their parents at a young age. Others are victims of or witness to abuse, both physical and verbal. These are just some examples of trauma.
You may have experienced one traumatic event or have stories that would make anyone’s toes curl. The fact remains that we have to overcome the emotional trauma in order to become healthy adults.
This is not an easy endeavor, by any means. Especially if you were abused or witnessed something horrific, you should talk to a professional to help you work through your feelings.
But still, there are 8 things you can do to help yourself overcome emotional trauma related to an unhealthy upbringing.
1. Get closure
In order to truly heal from emotional trauma, you must get some form of closure. It’s difficult to move forward when you’re dealing with something that still has loose ends. You could be going about your day when a thought creeps into your mind, and in that moment, you have to know why. Why did this happen to me? Why did this person act in a seemingly evil way?
Unfortunately, most of us won’t get the exact closure we want, but we can still get closure. For example, someone who hurt you may never apologize. People may continue to act in the same hurtful ways as they did when you were a child.
You can only do what is within your control. Try writing a letter that details everything you’ve ever wanted to say to this person. Then, write a second letter from their perspective, saying everything you’d want to hear from them. Once you have fully processed this event, you will be in a position to start healing.
2. Find support
If you had an unhealthy childhood, support may feel foreign to you. But it’s important to have a few people you can lean on when you’re feeling lost. You may seek support from a professional, but it also helps to surround yourself with supportive friends.
3. Recognize your triggers
Whether you’re dealing with substance abuse or anxiety, most of us have triggers that prompt a negative response. For example, going to a party with a bunch of people you don’t know could trigger a panic attack. Or maybe the topic of death sends you rushing to the closest bar.
Actively recognize your triggers, so you can face them head-on. In some cases, you may be able to avoid them. If not, you can learn healthier ways to deal with the emotions you are experiencing.
4. Step out of your comfort zone
As you heal from emotional trauma, it’s like you’re rebuilding a new and healthier life. You cannot do this while you’re stuck in the same old patterns. This is why you should make an effort to step out of your comfort zone and do something scary. Choose something that can also enforce new healthy habits, like take an exercise class or attend group meditation.
5. Acknowledge coping mechanisms
Many people who have suffered a childhood trauma develop unhealthy coping mechanisms as adults. They may turn to drugs or alcohol, or they may engage in other types of risky behavior.
Most people start exhibiting serious signs of problematic behavior in their college years. If this is true for you, consider collegiate recovery before the problem gets worse. If you’re beyond your college years, you can still get help.
Part of healing from trauma is to clean up your life and move forward. And if you’re suffering from addiction, seek professional help.
6. Practice self-love
If you had an unhealthy childhood, there’s a good chance that people in your life didn’t love you in the way that put your needs first. This may have made you feel like you’re unworthy of love.
But if you continue with that belief, whether conscious or unconscious, you will only perpetuate the cycle of emotional trauma. To break free, you must learn to love yourself.
Naturally, this is easier said than done, but it’s doable. Start by countering all your negative self-talk with positive facts. Use positive affirmations to reinforce your positive traits. And learn how to destress in a way that’s healthy for your body.
7. Challenge your beliefs
Childhood trauma may have changed your perception of the world. And if you want to heal, you must examine and challenge your core beliefs. Do you believe that people are out to get you? Or that the world is conspiring against you? Do you believe that everything that has happened to you is “just your luck?”
It helps to talk to someone about these beliefs. This person may be a counselor, a spiritual guide or an insightful friend.
8. Practice forgiveness
Negative feelings manifest with physical symptoms, and hate is no exception. Imagine how you feel whenever you see someone you despise. You might get a knot in your stomach or want to flee the area. Your mind might start racing with all the damaging things you want to say.
Hate is deceptive because it forces us to focus outward. But now, imagine that person is blissfully unaware of your feelings. Who is suffering? It’s only you.
Do what you can to let go of hard feelings and release yourself from the hate. It’s not easy to overcome emotional trauma associated with an unhealthy upbringing, but it is essential to living a full and healthy life.
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