3 Essential Steps To Heal From Childhood Trauma

Healing from Childhood Trauma

Dear Selfless Esteem,
Will I ever heal from childhood trauma? It’s been decades and I still feel triggered by reminders. It’s affected my work and relationships because I can’t focus and I have relationship issues.
Old Wounds

Dear Old Wounds,

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “child trauma occurs more than you think. More than two thirds of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16.” Adverse childhood experiences (aka ACEs) are common so thanks for bring up this important topic. ❁

You stated that you encounter reminders of your childhood trauma and feel “triggered” by them. Fear and consequently a fight, flight or freeze response is a universal reaction to these reminders because of a perceived threat related to the memory of the incident. Although it’s a false alarm, the stress is very real.

If you experience panic attacks, you might be interested in the post, “A Holistic Approach to Panic Attack Symptoms.” And please see “6 Effective Ways To Manage Stress.”

Healing from Childhood Trauma

In addition to fear, you may have felt powerless and helpless because children don’t have the ability to change their situation. Even so, children sometimes think the trauma was their fault.

Because of the trauma, you may have beliefs about yourself and the world that aren’t true. For example, maybe you perceive the world is so dangerous that no one can ever be trusted. Or, maybe you subconsciously think you’re not worthy of love because of neglect or abuse by your caregivers.

To survive, you may have developed certain behaviors, which were useful as a child but became counterproductive as an adult. Furthermore, your caregivers may have modeled dysfunctional behavior (even if they meant well). They may not have helped you regulate your emotions either.

For these reasons, it can be difficult to build long-term, healthy relationships with others in both your personal life and professional life. Here are three essential steps toward healing from childhood trauma.

1. Therapy

Find a competent therapist, who is skilled in working victims of childhood trauma. (See the posts, “What Is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”) The therapist can help you with the following: identifying and managing trauma reminders, expressing thoughts and feelings about the trauma, healing from any feelings of rejection and abandonment, practicing relaxation skills and coping skills, changing unhealthy behavior patterns, and decreasing intrusive negative thoughts and flashbacks, which affect your concentration. The therapist can also refer you to other professionals as needed.

Healing from Trauma

Consider attending a support group either online or in person. Your therapist can help you find one.

In between sessions, journaling is a good outlet for your thoughts and feelings. You can also discuss your journal entries with your therapist.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or anger, you may be interested in the following posts:
—“Top 5 Tips for Anger Management
—“Want To Stop Feeling Depressed? Here’s How
—“The Best Ways To Fall Back Asleep
—“Defeat Self-Criticism
—“Mending a Broken Heart: 8 Methods to Ease Your Pain.”

And if the holidays are trauma reminders, see the post, “The Ultimate Guide for Beating the Holiday Blues.”

2. Self-Care

Regardless of what type of childhood trauma you experienced, your inner child needs nurturing. The following are ways to take care of yourself:
—Seeing a physician for preventative care and for any physical problems
—Spending time with positive people, pets, and nature
—Exercising and doing enjoyable activities
—Getting enough sleep, taking short breaks during the day, and having a weekly Sabbath

3. Meditation on God’s Word

Meditate on the truth of God’s Word, specifically how much your Heavenly Father loves you. With pleasure, He chose you to be His child and He accepts you just as you are (Ephesians 1:4-6). He values His relationship with you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for you (Romans 5:10). For more details about God’s unconditional love, see the posts “The Real Truth About God” and “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem.”

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT 🌻

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. TC

    Thank you for addressing this highly important issue, Gina. Very comprehensive and thoughtful advice. 💕 I love how you zeroed in on the extreme level of helplessness that a child feels because unlike adults, they don’t have any power to change their situation. That is just as damaging an emotion as fear, possibly more.
    The therapy suggestion is spot on, and in PTSD type cases, targeted anger counseling to learn healthy ways to express anger is very helpful as well.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for bringing up the topic of expressing anger in healthy ways. This is so important. And the therapeutic relationship can help with the healing process.

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