How would you describe your childhood? Was it a period of familial love and personal enjoyment? Which emotions do you feel as you look back on your younger years? In research done by Jane Ellen Stevens, nearly 35 million U.S. have experienced one or more types of childhood trauma. These previous wounds initiate surges of strong emotions and physical reactions that may persist long after the event (NCTSN, n.d.) and may affect aspects of daily living such as work, school, social, and relationship life.
Do you think you are a victim of childhood trauma? Have you noticed personal symptoms that indicate so? In this article, we will be discussing 5 signs of childhood wounds. If you recognize any of these points or observe them in someone else, please remember that help is always available and these are struggles you will overcome through recovery.
Friendly disclaimer: The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional.
1. You have negative behavioral tendencies.
Do you recognize yourself showing one or two of these symptoms? Could it possibly connect to a bad childhood experience? When you grow up afraid or under constant stress, your body’s stress response systems may not develop normally. Later on, when exposed to even ordinary stress levels as an adult, your body may automatically respond as if under extreme stress. You may also perform risky behavior such as eating disorders (associating food with comfort or discomfort), excessive exercise, and drug or substance abuse (NCTSN, n.d.).
Please note that these are just common symptoms of trauma victims. Some may display a number of these while some show none at all. Diagnosis from a registered mental professional is important and it is a recommended step for recovery.
2. You have a fear of intimacy.
Do you have commitment issues? Have relationships been hard on you because you feel like they’ve been expecting so much more than what you can give? Having bad childhood experiences may make it difficult for you to form attachments or relationships out of fear of trust. For example, if you were constantly criticized as a young child and exposed to conditional love (circumstantial show of affection based on your accomplishments), you may find it difficult to reciprocate feelings as an adult. This proves to be a struggle no matter which social situation you find yourself in. Please don’t lose hope, a lot of people have come to terms with their childhood scars and recovered from them. Therapy is a safe and proven way of healing. If you feel like it’s too big of a step, you may also attempt opening up to your loved ones and other people you trust. With baby steps, you can do it.
Do you want to learn more about the fear of commitment and what it means? You may want to check out The Fear of Intimacy and How To Overcome It.
3. You think low of yourself.
Are you the type of person who shuts down under pressure? Do you have difficulty in confrontations and speaking up for yourself? These traits may stem from parental treatment in your childhood years. Were your parents or guardians overly strict? If you spoke up about something challenging them, did you receive punishment in return? These events may cause you to have fear in your later years when placed in similar situations. You may also feel like you aren’t worthy or capable enough to create a positive change in your life. Therapy and incorporating practices of self-acceptance may help in having a better view of yourself. To understand more about low self-esteem and how to improve it, you can check out 8 Ways to Fight Low Self-Worth.
4. You have turbulent emotions.
Do you tend to act before you think? Are emotional outbursts something you experience regularly? Trauma survivors often have rooted insecurity that makes them unable to relate with other people. Because of this, you may feel like a lot of people are against you because of something you did. You are sensitive to their words and actions and tend to take them negatively. It might be a good idea to surround yourself with patient people who understand what you’re going through. Also, be kind to yourself and take time off whenever you feel like your emotions are getting the better of you. Please remember that these unfortunate events do not define you as a person and you will get through this.
5. You have internalized narcissism.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition in which people have a great sense of their importance. They require excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others (Mayoclinic, 2017). Experts say that when a child is trapped in a narcissistic relationship system with a parent, they either internalize the narcissism or externalize it by projecting shame, guilt, humiliation, and fear onto others (Caprino, 2021).
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance, e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
- Is interpersonally exploitative i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him/her.
- Shows arrogance, haughty behaviors, or attitudes.
Do you recognize some qualities within yourself? Do you know other people who exhibit these symptoms? Please remember that not all people will exhibit these traits. Some will show a lot, and some little. A diagnosed mental health professional will be able to provide a diagnosis that may aid in your journey to recovery. Other methods for help are also available such as therapy, family therapy, and attending parenting classes. If you feel like these are big steps you aren’t ready for, talking to a close friend or a loved one is always available. Reaching out is important because you deserve to get a better quality of life.
Major thanks to Kathy Caprino’s 5 Clear Signs That You Have Childhood Wounds To Heal. It was a huge help for creating this article. Please check out her series Healing and Thriving Through Life’s Challenges on LinkedIn if you’re interested.
What did you think of this article? Which points do you relate to? Do you know someone who you think experienced a negative upbringing? Please share your experiences in the comment section below. We appreciate hearing about your stories. Thank you for reading. Until next time!
Caprino, K. (2021, May 6). 5 Clear Signs That You Have Childhood Wounds To Heal. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-clear-signs-you-have-childhood-wounds-heal-kathy-caprino/
Das, D. (2020, October 17). How childhood trauma can affect your relationships – Times of India. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/love-sex/how-childhood-trauma-can-affect-your-relationships/articleshow/78675520.cms#:%7E:text=Researches%20have%20concluded%20that%20childhood,them%20when%20they%20become%20adults.
Mayo Clinic. (2017, November 18). Narcissistic personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662
Mayo Clinic. (2020, July 14). Self-esteem: Take steps to feel better about yourself. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20045374
Ross, K. (2020, September 11). 7 Ways to Navigate Emotional Turbulence. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/seven-ways-to-navigate-emotional-turbulence/
SOS Children’s Villages. (2019, April 12). Childhood trauma: 30+ signs your child is trying to cope. SOS-US-EN. https://www.sos-usa.org/news/topics/ptsd-in-children/childhood-trauma-30-signs-your-child-is-trying-to
Stevens, J. E. (2017, April 26). Nearly 35 million U.S. children have experienced one or more types of childhood trauma. ACEs Too High. https://acestoohigh.com/2013/05/13/nearly-35-million-u-s-children-have-experienced-one-or-more-types-of-childhood-trauma/
Thatcher, T. (2021, August 6). Healing Childhood Trauma in Adults. Highland Springs. https://highlandspringsclinic.org/blog/healing-childhood-trauma-adults/