Getting Over Child Traumas in Relationship
Childhood should be a happy time, but, unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Mental traumas received in childhood often make life in adulthood unbearable, having a great influence on what kind of people we become.
According to statistics, 78% of children experience traumatic experiences of different severity under the age of 5 years. 20% of children under 6 undergo therapy due to these various injuries, including sexual abuse, lack of parental care, domestic violence, and bereavement.
In adulthood, this sometimes translates into a complex post-traumatic disorder, which greatly worsens a person’s quality of life and prevents them not only from enjoying life but also from functioning more or less normally – problems with regulating their own emotions, memory, self-perception, building close relationships arise.
To solve these problems (or at least understand where they come from), you need to understand exactly how childhood psychological traumas affect our personality.
People who survived severe negative psychological experiences in childhood often cannot remember significant pieces of that time and at the same time very vividly remember individual moments (the so-called flash-memories). If you ask such a person to tell about their childhood, they are unlikely to be able to set out a coherent and full story; rather it will sound like “Well, my childhood was a regular one, but there was one episode …” Many people who experienced something negative in their younger years feel as if their childhood was stolen by someone.
“I should better be alone.” Sometimes this choice becomes the result of a series of unsuccessful relationships, and sometimes it precedes them as a kind of preventive measure. There will be no relationship, and there will be no pain. On the one hand, the logic is clear. On the other hand, for full development and personal growth, an adult needs healthy, close relationships with other people, like strong friendship, marriage, and love. Childhood experiences connected with relatives or parents who did not treat the person right lead to the fact that this individual will feel useless and out the blame for this on themselves. If the person often heard they were worthless, their parents were close people showing no emotions or allowed themselves to use physical violence, the person will have serious problems with expressing emotions and treating other people.
YOU ARE BIGGER THAN WHAT MAKES YOU ANXIOUS
Here are a few techniques that can help you recognize negative patterns obtained in childhood and “re-educate” your inner child.
- Empty Chair Technique
The therapist puts an empty chair in front of you and offers to imagine that a person that is significant to you is sitting on it – for example, one of the parents. You “communicate” with an imaginary interlocutor, talk about your thoughts and feelings, or explain to them what you wanted but did not get in childhood. You can talk about the birthday gift you did not receive but thought you deserved it or how you simply wanted to be hugged more often. The therapist may suggest that you “swap roles” and take the place of an imaginary interlocutor yourself.
Such work is especially useful when people who have meant a lot to you in the past cannot or do not want to take part in therapy. It helps to restore contact with your feelings about the past and with those parts of yourself that you tried to hide or suppress with the help of addiction or other destructive behavior. Having established contact with your feelings and memories, you will be able to realize how they affect your current behavior and understand how you can change the situation.
- Schematic therapy
This method is suitable for patients experiencing difficulties in society, as well as for those who cannot cope with the consequences of childhood trauma. Children who grow up in a hostile or unhealthy environment often develop destructive memories, emotions, and self-image that lead to inappropriate reactions and behavior in adulthood.
Schematic therapy combines the approaches and principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy, attachment theory, and other methods. During treatment, the therapist uses “re-education” techniques to help the patient’s vulnerable inner child to learn how to satisfy their basic emotional needs with healthy methods.
Using various methods – dialogues, role-playing games, keeping diaries, learning important skills – schematic therapy teaches the patient to look at themselves and others differently and helps them overcome the desire to avoid unpleasant situations and get rid of other inappropriate reactions.