Healing and moving past childhood trauma may feel like an uphill battle. My purpose for hosting the What I Wish My Mother Taught Me Podcast is to build a community of men and women willing to speak transparently about their life experiences and how those experiences shape them as adults and parents. My guest this week, Karen, was transparent about childhood abandonment, the effects of divorce on children, and the importance of seeking help in the form of therapy to heal childhood trauma and abandonment.
This episode is an excellent reminder that you are not alone and so many people are on a path to healing from some form of trauma. Dealing with and resolving childhood trauma may directly impact our ability to live a healthy lifestyle. Gabor Maté, M.D., speaks and has written many articles referencing the impact of childhood trauma on mental and physical health. Dr. Maté provides tips on how we can begin healing from trauma and improve our mental and physical health.
1. Understand multigenerational trauma.
Taking steps to identify our issues can help us to heal from multi-generational trauma. Multi-generational trauma is a byproduct of our parent’s or grandparent’s experiences that was not resolved before we were born.
Looking inward can help us understand our trauma and, in turn provide the necessary context to make sense of the multi-generational trauma we are carrying and how to deal with it.
Dr. Maté will often ask people about the last time they were upset with somebody. “Most of the time, people are upset; it’s about something else,” he says. “It’s easy for me to tell about somebody’s childhood trauma if they tell me the last time they were really angry with somebody in their lives. Usually, it’s about old stuff.”
2. Lean on your relationships.
I treasure my relationships; I adore the women who afford me the space and time to vent, laugh, and lean on them at my weakest points. The women in my life have been instrumental in supporting me through the healing of my traumas.
Maintaining healthy relationships has a direct correlation with our health and mortality. Loneliness and isolation can lead to serious health conditions. Growth requires that we surround ourselves with people who will be honest with us, act as a mirror when we cannot see ourselves, and at the same time embrace us, flaws and all. This mix of tough and gentle love will create safe spaces to help us work through and let go of some of our traumatic experiences.
3. Learn how to say no.
My life changed when I learned to set boundaries and learned the power of no. Most people have trouble saying no. Understanding our values and what makes up our belief system helps us to develop healthy boundaries and live according to how we see the world.
Most people have trouble saying no, says Maté—which is intriguing, considering “no” is often a baby’s first word. “Nature’s agenda is that we should all develop into independent human beings with our own sense of what we want and don’t want, our own sense of values, our own sense of perspective on the world, our own desires,” he shares. “In other words: Nature wants to set a boundary between our will and other people’s will.”
This is problematic because if you don’t know how to say no, “your yeses don’t mean a thing,” says Maté. If you begrudgingly say yes to a task, you can also grow resentful, which can have physiological impacts on your body. “Furthermore, you’ll be tired afterward because you’re already tired to start with,” says Maté. “So, not saying no has impacts on you.” Consider it your sign to set reasonable, healthy boundaries.
Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Childhood experiences may be traumatic, but healing from them takes work and self-love.
thanks for exploring this topic with me