The Impact of Childhood trauma
Today it is undeniable how a strong Inner Foundation is vitally important to a well-adjusted, fully functioning child and adult. The importance of the first five years of childhood development as a foundation for life determines not only healthy brain development but also how adults perceive themselves and the world around them. Genetic factors play a role in shaping the person, but it is mainly the environment we grew up in, where early experiences with parents and care givers that greatly influence the development of either a fragile and unstable or strong and balanced Inner Foundation.
Did you know that in the early years of a child’s life, it is that parents that are the major influences of the development of their child’s self-esteem. This parental or role model influence is be the main source of positive or negative experiences towards the child. Any negative or traumatic experience during childhood such neglect, abuse or violence will be registered for life in the child and the its consequences can reach far into adult life, displayed as undesirable and often unconscious thought and behavioral patterns.
Any painful traumatic experience that happened to us impairs the development of our three brains and even more so during our infancy due to the vulnerability of the developing brain. Sadly, these traumatic experiences often occur at the hands of people who are supposed to be our protectors and carers. Such traumatic experiences create shock waves throughout the entire body and simultaneously severely disrupt the brain synapses network. In turn, these shock waves compromise the functioning of the four internal structures of our Inner Foundation, namely the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual structure.
But what happens when a shock disrupts these structures? And why is it that this shock or trauma can linger in our bodies and brain, affecting our health for years to come?
The Child inside the Adult body
The truth is that trauma is not just “in our heads”. In fact, trauma can cause a wide range of emotional and/or physical illnesses. Not only does trauma damage the brain neuron synapses and our memory storage processes, but it also impairs the physiological regulatory mechanism of our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic system’s main function is to control homeostasis and the body’s rest-and-digest response. The sympathetic systems main role is to control the functions of organs and muscles and mobilize the body’s fight-or-flight response when danger exists. When these two systems are impaired, the body will stay in a continuous fight-or-flight response. Remaining in this constant state of fight-or-flight overwhelms the bodies responses by producing abnormal levels of hormones and neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine. The effect of this is the perpetual feeling of stress, anxiety and fear, even when there is no danger or threat. Ultimately this leads to adrenal fatigue and burnout, which in turn greatly impairs the immune system, affecting all other bodily systems.
Everyone responds differently to adverse childhood experiences. Some may suffer an immediate and acute effect of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Still others may not show signs of stress until sometime after the event(s), perhaps months or even years. From outward appearances, a trauma survivor may look like a normal individual, but trauma can fester like an invisible wound for a long time. Overtime, trauma weakens the body’s immune system, disrupting the healthy functioning of the brain, gut and heart, until finally it manifests as illness and disease. Psychiatric disorders, heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cancer are just some of the common diseases that are related with childhood trauma according to Harvard Medical School research. The risk of developing mental and physical health illnesses increases with the number of traumatic events we have experienced in our past. Meaning if we were exposed to a series of traumatic experiences for too long, there is a high probability in developing long lasting effects. Here are some of the most common lingering effects:
- Self-Concept: low self-esteem, shame, guilt and self-dislike
- Attachment: Troubled relationships, codependency, victim-victimizer archetype
- Physical Health: Neurologic disorders, physical illnesses and somatic symptoms
- Emotional Regulation: Difficulty to access and control emotions and impulses
- Dissociation: Impaired memory, amnesia and dissociative identity disorder (DID)
- Cognitive Ability: difficulty with focus, learning, planning, anticipating and relation to time space
- Behavioral Control: addictions, aggression, sleep and eating disorders
Can we overcome past traumatic experiences and reset our mind and body towards good health and longevity?
The answer is YES! It’s amazing how we can recover from trauma if we decide to pursue and own our healing journey. This process doesn’t happen all by itself. Instead, it requires your participation and commitment to successfully achieve positive results in your health and overall well-being. Just as your brain changed in response to your past experiences, it can also change in response to your present and future experiences.
When you expand your knowledge and awareness about trauma, cause-and-effect, you also learn how the brain can be changed and rewired with new neural pathways. Through this process of rewiring your brain, your self-esteem, your self-worth and your self-confidence will grow. By addressing what needs to change in your life and by applying your commitment to nurturing daily healthy habits, you can actually rewire your brain to start to feel better and to achieve good health and body rejuvenation. This is the initial stage to start to rebuild a strong Inner Foundation. If you’d like to initiate this powerful process of personal transformation, we invite to join module 1 for free, upon completion you will have a free 1-1 counseling and coaching call with Luke and Susana.