If you ask around, most adults feel they didn’t get the parents they deserved; many still deal with the repercussions of childhood wounds and trauma. After so many years of research it is safe to say problems experienced during childhood leave emotional wounds which will affect the quality of life the child will have when he/she becomes an adult. Childhood traumas can significantly influence how our children today will act tomorrow and how they will react when faced with adversities.
There are 5 types of behavior parents/caregivers can exposed their children to which has the most long term damaging consequences. Being exposed to any of these 5 key negative behaviors, will in one way or another shape the personalities our children will have and the way they will come to see the world.
The top 5 wounds a person carries from childhood are:
Fear Of Abandonment…Loneliness can be the worst enemy during childhood.
A lonely child usually grows up to become a vigilant adult. The more neglected the child was, the more vigilant he or she will become; unable to relax or trust anyone. When people have suffered several abandonments during their formative years, they tend to have very low self esteem. Sometimes their self esteem issues are hidden behind a mask of self confidence which leans more towards “too cool”, “too important”. They tend to become the ones who end relationships, living under the motto “I will leave you before you leave me” due to fear of getting hurt again.
Victims of emotional neglect and abandonment see themselves as unworthy of love because the wounded child inside of them still feels he/she did something wrong, and that’s why the abandonment occurred. Considering how important it is for a child to feel protected by his parents, it’s no surprise why the wound of abandonment would have shaken the very foundation upon where the child’s self esteem is supposed to be built.
Children in their beautiful but also self sacrificing nature, tend to blame themselves even in situations where no fault is theirs. It’s their innate desire for their parents to be their safe harbor which leads them to this type of behavior (self blame). To children, parents are larger than life, therefore if a parent behaves in uncaring ways or hurts the child, the child will internalize the pain and undeservingly shelter the responsibility of the negative event.
People who have suffered many episodes of abandonment live by the mentality “If you leave, don’t come back”. When a person who has been a victim of abandonment says this, what he is really saying is: “Please don’t hurt me anymore. I have gone through this so many times and it was too painful to bear. I still have open wounds and I can’t handle any more, so if you are going to leave I appreciate it if you don’t come back. It makes it easier to bear, less painful”. Those who suffered severe neglect and abandonment are not trying to be “tough”, they are simply trying to protect themselves the only way they know how.
As a child with no one to protect him, he learned to defend himself by putting up a wall and pushing everyone away. As adults these people don’t want to push people away, they don’t want to be lonely but having been hurt one too many times, they may feel getting attached to someone is dangerous, painful… their leaving unbearable; so they push and push before their heart gets broken.
People who have wounds of emotional neglect will have to work their fear of abandonment and loneliness in order to have a more fulfilling life. In extreme cases where abuse was so ingrained (physical and mental) the adult may have come to value and cherish his solitude to the point where he no longer has the slightest idea of how to let someone in. Society labels people like these as narcissistic and/or sociopathic…they are wrong. A Narcissist or a Sociopath behave in very different ways, so let’s not be too quick on using those terms without knowing what they actually imply. People who have been abandoned time and time again, simply have learned to rely on themselves and no one else. They will need a stable environment, where things are consistent and calm, where they are capable of feeling safe, loved, and where the anxiety of abandonment is relieved little by little by the actions of those who surround them. They will need to face the wounds which they were exposed to by their caregivers and other people of importance within their lives.
People who suffer fear of abandonment also need to learn to drop the invisible walls which surround their tender yet strong hearts. Wounds caused by neglect; specially severe neglect; are not easy to heal, therefore it is important for anyone who wants to get close to a victim of severe neglect to keep in mind the importance of consistency and keeping one’s word. The road will not be easy; knowing your limits is very important, as the damage which can be cause by reopening wounds and then leaving the person behind to deal with it, can create a more chronic situation.
If you have been a victim of neglect/abandonment please know “There is nothing wrong with you, it was not your fault”–I know its hard, it has taken me many years of hard work and set backs for that motto to be imprinted in my mind; I still wrestle with it but I am also not the same person I was many years ago. Little by little I am letting go and you can to. You yourself will know if you are healing when the moments of fear towards abandonment start to disappear and you start feeling more hopeful.
It is important you know your limits and not to feel ashamed if others don’t get it. Little by little try to step out of your comfort zone, this will build confidence in the world around you; however be sure it is done at your tempo. No one has the right to push you further than you can give but you also don’t want to get stuck in the “fear zone”. When you do things because you want to ( you want to get better, you want to stop being afraid) healing will happen. If on the other hand you do things in order to please those around you; those who want you to “snap out of it”; resentment will be the most likely result.
Fear Of Rejection… Fear of rejection can be one of our deepest wounds as it involves the rejection of our inner self which encompasses our experiences, our thoughts and feelings. Fear of rejection usually is developed due to the feeling of not being accepted by the child’s caregivers, family, friends, crushes, etc. These thoughts of rejection–of not being good enough, of not being desired–can deeply wound a child, contributing to feelings of loneliness and low self worth.
As an adult, the person who suffers of fear of rejection does not feel deserving of affection, understanding or acceptance; isolating himself in his inner emptiness. Children who have been exposed to rejection as the norm within their lives tend to grow into “fugitives”. A fugitive of rejection is someone who detaches himself from “feeling” out of fear of getting hurt; by doing this he hopes to avoid pain while also robbing himself of the opportunity to truly experience joy–such a state of living is no living at all.
If this is your case, you must work on yourself by addressing/facing your concerns, fears and any situation which may cause panic within you. The best way to start is by learning to take care of your place (it is less personal than confronting your inner fears but a great strategy to develop self assurance as it helps you learn to make decisions). As you learn to make decisions for your house, let it extend to yourself, and then to your surroundings; baby steps but they add up. As you develop certainty within your decision making, your fear of what others may do or say will start to dissipate. Over time you will come to feel less uncomfortable or hurt when people walk away, as you will no longer take it personally.
Humiliation….This injury is generated when a child feels he is constantly disapproved of or criticized. Parents can exposed their child to humiliation by name calling (bad, awkward, fat, weird, etc.) or by airing the child’s problems in front of everyone; this action can easily destroy the child’s self esteem. The emotional wounds of humiliation can generate two types of personality: Dependent or Hostile, Tyrant and Selfish; going around humiliating others in order to feel superior.
To overcome the traumas of humiliation requires to work on one’s self esteem by focusing on our independence and freedom, as well as the understanding of our priorities, our needs and fears.
Betrayal And Fear Of Trust… Fear to trust or fear of betrayal arise mainly when a child has been betrayed by one or both of his parents. This can be the result of something simple or complex as not keeping a promise. It can also occur when the child was exposed to other types of trauma yet his parents ignored the event in order to protect an image. This generates a distrust which can be transformed into more complex negative feelings of self and others. Feelings of unworthiness can easily arise when a promise made is not kept.
Suffering betrayal as a child can generate a controlling adult (this is not to be confused with the adult who is controlling as a result of having been spoiled or made to feel better than everyone else). Control resulting from having been spoiled is different in the sense that the person seeks to always feel superior “the boss”, the center of attention, etc. People like this can act in very likable ways in order to obtain what they want and can be very vindictive if their decision is contradicted.
Control resulting from betrayal is based on fear of being hurt. The person seeks not to control others (although this may be an extension to their fear) but rather to have some type of control of his/her life. Unlike their counter path, they are not concerned with being likable but rather expose a very strong character. This strong demeanor is a shell to mask the fear to being betrayed once more.
People who have suffered betrayal have a deep need for others to maintain their word and to stand up to injustices. They need consistency and to have things explained in detailed. If you have been exposed to betrayal during childhood, you probably have the need to exercise control over various aspects of your life and portray a strong character. Healing the emotional wounds of betrayal require working on patience; with yourself above all and then with others. You need to learn to understand and how to live under unexpected circumstances. It also requires learning to be alone and to delegate responsibilities, as well as allowing changes within your own life style.
Injustice… Injustice as an emotional wound originates due to an environment in which the caregivers are cold and authoritarian. The child is expose to demands which far exceeds his limits, resulting on feelings of never being capable or feeling useless; these feelings will extend into adulthood. A child exposed to injustice gets used to being blamed for things which are not his fault; as a result when the child becomes an adult there is a severe dislike for people who like to victimize themselves. People who have been exposed to injustices as children acquire a fanaticism for perfectionism and order as well as the inability to make decisions with confidence. At times when a decision is made which may not be the best decision (as it may be pushing others away), rather than second taking a second look at the decision being made, they will keep moving forward and avoid any type of looking back.
People who have been exposed to injustice tend to be very rigid and hard with themselves; to overcome this one must work on issues of distrust and learning to be more gentle with one self. Learning to be more flexible and allowing self to make mistakes without self punishment.
Most of us have been exposed to one or more of these serious emotional wounds. Most parents in their own way did the best they could with the knowledge they had; however this is not to excuse abusive parents or caregivers who constantly tore at the child’s foundation. Children who have been exposed constantly to most of the above wounds tend to develop disorders which can deeply affect their lives; for those reasons it is important to remember not to expose our children to the above behavior.
No one is born knowing how to be a parent nor can it be taught via textbook; however learning communication skills, working on one’s own wounds before having children or even after, educating self on various subjects about human nature, meditation and learning to be honest with self is a great way to prevent us from hurting our children deeply.
Every day before you get up try practicing gratefulness, focus on all the good things you, your partner, your children have and repeat the following to yourself….
“I don’t need to be a perfect parent, there is not such a thing. I give myself permission to not compete with anyone. As along as I try my best each day and as long I am honest with myself and my children, I will be giving my children the best gift one can ever give: The gift of self acceptance”</a