Many of us are wandering the world bearing a lot of emotional damage.
We may be depressed, anxious, or very difficult around sex in relationships.
We might ask ourselves where the difficulties came from.
It’s a continually weird provocative and yet, in our view, extremely accurate answer, that the damage comes almost always from childhood.
1. you can’t seem to remember much of your younger years at all.
Do your high school years feel like a blur?
You might find yourself drawing a blank when someone brings up a childhood memory.
And you can’t recall the same one.
People with childhood trauma may experience.
In which they remember vivid moments, but not the full event.
When you look back on the past.
It’s made up of more black holes than fully written chapters.
You might even feel like someone or something has stolen your childhood.
Depending on the severity of the events.
2. You find yourself in toxic relationships
If you’ve ever watched or read the “Perks of Being a Wallflower”
You’d be familiar with the quote:
“We accept the love. We think we deserve”.
When you grow up in a household devoid of love and emotional support.
Healthy relationships are a foreign concept to you In fact.
Many people who face childhood trauma often adopt the fearful avoidant attachment style.
Where they want emotionally close relationships.
But find it hard to trust or depend on others completely.
Consequently without knowing it you might seek destructive relationships.
Mistaking the mistreatment and uncertainty for excitement.
3. Or you feel like you don’t deserve love at all.
People who experienced abuse in their childhoods.
Might avoid romantic relationships altogether.
Believing they can’t be loved by others.
This is known as the anxious preoccupied attachment.
Where the individual wants to establish emotional intimacy with others.
But often fears rejection.
As a result:
Vulnerability is usually avoided.
When they’ve only been hurt by people they once trusted.
This kind of trauma doesn’t just ache.
It ruins you.
4. You develop Passive-aggressiveness.
Did you grow up in a household with anger all the time?
It can be so scarring that you might even grow fearful of this emotion.
You learned at a young age that none of your emotional needs were important.
So you’ve only resorted to burying or suppressing them.
As you reach adulthood
You’ll continue to exercise passive aggressive behavior
Because straightforward communication was avoided when you were a child
5. Negative self-talk is amplified.
Childhood trauma gets into victims heads.
And makes them believe they won’t ever be good enough.
It’s not something they can just snap out of or fix with positivity.
And real how convincing their parents might have been.
When their words and actions cut them deep.
6. You ride an emotional roller coaster.
You might either feel too much or not enough at.
All trauma can cause a disruption in your emotional well-being.
Signs include trouble making decisions.
And random outbursts of anger or frustration.
7. You don’t know who you are
Identity is difficult.
But it seems more impossible to grasp or pin down when you face childhood trauma.
It’s slippery like a fish.
And the more you try to see yourself.
The less you begin to recognize who you thought you were.
Have you or anyone, you know experienced any of these symptoms.
How we were cared for as infants and children, has a disproportionate effect on how we will relate to others in adulthood.
What we need above all else is a responsive parent;
1. An adult who looks after our needs with sensitivity and kindness.
2. This is quite literally life defining and life saving.
3. It sounds like nothing much and nothing too hard.
4. But without this kind of responsive love, we are wounded for life.
Many of us have been.
Researchers have become ever better at showing the effects of neglect on children.
One of the world’s leading expert is Dr. Edward Tronick, director of the Child Development unit at Harvard University.
Together with his team, he’s responsible for one of the great experiments in the history of psychology,
known as: The Still Face Experiment.
Babies, this young, are extremely responsive to the emotions, the reactivity and the social interaction
that they get from the world around them.
This is something that we started studying 34 years ago.
When people didn’t think that infants could engage in social interaction.
In this Still Face Experiment, what the mother did was:
she sits down and she’s playing with her baby who’s about 1 year of age.
“My good girl!”
And she gives a greeting to the baby, the baby gives a greeting back to her.
This baby starts pointing at different places in the world,
and the mother is trying to engage her and play with her.
They’re working to coordinate their emotions,
and their intentions. What they want to do in the world.
And that’s really what the baby is used to.
And then we ask the mother to not respond to the baby.
The baby very quickly picks up on this.
And then she uses all of her abilities to try and get the mother back.
She smiles at the mother, she points. Because she’s used to the mother looking where she points.
The baby puts both hands up, in front of her and says “What’s happening here?”
She makes that screechy sound at the mother.
Like: “Come on! Why aren’t we doing this?”
Even in these 2 minutes, when they don’t get the normal reaction, they react with negative emotions, they turn away, they feel the stress of it.
They actually may lose the control of their posture because of the stress that they’re experiencing.
Watching the baby get distressed can be highly triggering.
If a child can get so upset over a few seconds of cold and unfeeling behavior, we have a sense of what can happen over years or more of neglect.
No wonder some of us don’t feel so well inside.
We had an equivalent of a “Still-Face”-parent for our first decade and more.
But knowing how vulnerable we are, it shouldn’t merely sadden us.
We can take stock of how we’ve been failed and understand the link between the past and our present difficulties.
Psychological research, like the Still Face experiment, is at the forefront of helping us to understand ourselves emotionally.
Shedding scientific light on the origins of our sadness and complexity.
Along the way, the experiment proves something else beyond doubt.
Love isn’t a luxury. It’s a gateway to our very survival and sanity.
Most books that want to change us, seek to make us richer or thinner.
This book wants to help us be nicer, less irritable, more attentive, warmer people.