"Creating a new path forward of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-worth is possible. And this will ultimately create a more positive and empowered adult identity."
This picture of me was taken on the 4th of July, 2023. The life I have now is so different than my childhood and young adult years. With the help of family, friends and expert mental health professionals I have developed more self-acceptance and self-worth than I ever thought possible. Yes, I have had help along the way, but I am the one that did the work. Never doubt that you can do it too. I believe in you!!
Untangling the beliefs we were taught about ourselves because of childhood trauma is a difficult and often long road. Childhood trauma shapes our psychological development. This includes our sense of self and personal identity. As adults, we carry the messages given to us in childhood.
Childhood trauma takes on many forms. These include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction. Such experiences can have profound effects on a child's sense of safety, trust, and emotional well-being. As these children grow into adulthood, the scars of their past can influence how they view themselves and interact with the world around them.
Childhood is a carefree time in a person’s life. During this time, a fundamental belief that develops is that the child’s caregivers and the world are safe. If the child does not feel safe in their home and with their caregivers, it will be difficult to feel safe anywhere else. Not being able to feel safe and trust the world also shapes how they feel about themselves. The absence of a nurturing and secure childhood environment may hinder the development of a strong and positive self-concept. Self-perception plays a pivotal role in shaping identity, relationships, and overall mental health. For people who have experienced childhood trauma, self-perception can be significantly affected. Feelings of unworthiness, shame, or a distorted self-image are common for those who have experienced childhood trauma.
When a child’s world does not feel safe, they will develop coping strategies to find some sense of safety in their life. While these strategies work for them in childhood, they are often harmful as adults. To numb the pain of their past, the individual may turn to unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse, disordered eating, or self-harm. These behaviors can further erode self-esteem and perpetuate negative self-perceptions. This can create a cycle that is difficult to break without proper intervention.
The impact of childhood trauma on self-perception can extend to interpersonal relationships. The inability to trust, manage fear, and setting healthy boundaries can inhibit the formation of meaningful connections. Because there is a lack of feeling worthy of love and respect, maintaining healthy relationships may be a challenge.
However, resilience and growth are possible even in the face of adversity. Many have found the strength to overcome and reconstruct their self-perception. Therapy, support groups, and self-care practices are just a few of the ways to reframe negative self-beliefs. With the help of a mental health professional, past traumas can be revisited and a deeper understanding of how these experiences have shaped their self-image can be gained. This can lead the way to transformation and self-healing.
The link between childhood trauma and self-perception plays a big role in shaping adult life and personality. The scars of past adversity can shape how one sees themselves, their worth, and their place in the world. Negative self-perceptions can have far-reaching consequences, affecting relationships, mental health, and overall well-being. However, the potential for healing and growth is real, and with the right support and interventions. Creating a new path forward of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-worth is possible. And this will ultimately create a more positive and empowered adult identity.
If you are struggling with past traumas and poor self-acceptance, coaching can help. Reach out to me at katherinebwiens.com. Together, we can envision a path forward. Recovering from past trauma is possible. This is something I have experienced in my life and I’m here to help other women on their transformative journey.