Our childhood is often called “the formative years”, and for very good reason! As hundreds of studies have proven, the things we see, learn, and encounter during our childhood years often stick with us for the rest of our lives. And, the traumas we experience will play a significant role in the formation of our identities as adults.
Psychology Today posted an interesting article describing ways that developmental trauma can affect adult identities. For example:
People who say “I never really had a childhood” are often missing pieces of their childhood because their brains suppressed traumatic memories. They’ll often have vivid memories, but their recollections of their childhood will often be disjointed or lacking context.
People who tend to self-destructive relationships are often repeating the trauma they experienced in their relationship with an important figure (key caregivers) in their lives. Unconsciously, they are repeating that relationship over and over.
People who say “I’ve always felt a part of myself was missing” may have dissociated themselves from a traumatic memory or experience in order to cope with it. They may also rely heavily on one aspect of their persona, leaving other aspects underdeveloped or even ignored.
People who avoid relationships are often those who have experienced trauma involving intimate relationships during their developmental years. They isolate themselves as a method of protection from further pain.
People who say “I don’t really have strong feelings about things” often come from families where strong emotions weren’t important or didn’t belong. Emotional numbing doesn’t actually mean people don’t feel emotions; they simply don’t know how to process, predict, or manage them.
People who avoid thinking or talking about themselves are often trying to avoid recalling negative memories from their developmental years. Any reminder could bring those memories bubbling up, which is why they prefer to avoid it.
Fascinating, isn’t it? So many of us have these attitudes or perceptions, so it’s interesting to examine them critically and find out WHY we think and act this way.