We all have trauma of some kind. The most painful traumas to face often come from childhood, it’s estimated that at least 80% of people grow up with some form of dysfunction. Childhood trauma can shame us out of and disconnect us from our emotions, childhood trauma will cause us anxiety, affect our relationships, confidence and self esteem. It can completely disempower us and affect all aspects of our lives. Most people will do everything they can to avoid connecting with their inner child and healing these traumas but there really is no way to escape them.
I have written in other posts and on my inner child healing page about the imprint period. In my opinion unhealed trauma is the cause of all the problems we currently see in the world. When we don’t heal this trauma and reintegrate our inner child we will always fall victim to one or all of the issues I detail below.
Sigmund Freud developed the theory of repetition compulsion, he said we repeat early trauma’s until we have healed them. One theory for repetition compulsion is that it’s our unconscious mind’s way of keeping us safe, the primary task of the unconscious is to keep us alive and it does this by always finding scenarios that are familiar, it doesn’t matter how dysfunctional familiar is if we’re not dead the unconscious thinks it’s doing its job. The need for these unconscious patterns will be strongest when we move into fight or flight mode, when we feel stressed or anxious we will go back to these behaviours and patterns as a way to comfort ourselves. What we don’t heal we will either repeat or reenact on others.
Attractions of Deprivation
Another we repeat childhood trauma is through attractions of deprivation, in my inner child healing to improve relationships workshop I talk about attractions of deprivation. We feel most drawn to people that embody the worst emotional characteristics of our primary caregivers. Even though we may be adults, we often have unresolved childhood hurts due to betrayal, manipulation, abuse and neglect from our caregivers. Unconsciously, we seek the healing of these wounds in our intimate relationships and we seek out people that will irritate these wounds so we can heal them.
When we grow up with childhood trauma we can develop learned helplessness, learned helplessness is a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They come to believe that they are unable to control or change any of the situations in their life, so they do not try even when opportunities for change become available. Learned helplessness can result in us developing an external locus of control, we look to other people and the outside world as the cause of our problems. When we have an external locus of control it makes it impossible for us to take control of our lives and influence any aspects of them. We will always be the victims of fate or chance, if we don’t have an internal locus of control we will always be open to abuse and manipulation. We will always be looking for other people or objects to make us happy or save us and be unsatisfied when they don’t live up to our expectations.
As I said at the start of this post a dysfunctional childhood will create toxic shame which will make us alienate the feelings and behaviours we have been shamed out of. To avoid painful memories and emotions we will split and project onto others. Splitting is a psychological mechanism that allows a person to tolerate difficult and overwhelming emotions by seeing someone as either good or bad, idealised or devalued. When we have unhealed trauma we will often project past events onto the present moment and people. We may have an inability to trust new people, we will experience anxiety when it comes to relationships and this will often result in us alienating people or pushing them away.
Reticular Activating System
The reticular activating system (RAS) will always find evidence for our beliefs; it doesn’t matter how unhealthy or toxic they are for us. The RAS is a walnut shaped network of neurons located in the brain stem, it’s job is to sort information and find what is most relevant to us. If you change your focus, set goals and take action towards them you really can change your reality.
Things can’t ever get better if we don’t take responsibility for what’s going on in our lives and consider how we are creating them. This is why healing our trauma and reintegrating our inner child can empower us.