Q: How can I unlearn the ways of my upbringing and acknowledge my childhood trauma?
I want to assure you that it is possible to unlearn the ways of your upbringing. However, it requires you to acknowledge your childhood trauma with a psychotherapist. I see the word trauma frequently used as a marketing buzzword — self-study trauma courses, etc. It is hazardous to your mental and emotional wellbeing to work through childhood wounds and inner trauma alone. This work requires a safe and therapeutic space.
I’d ask you in what ways do you think your trauma is being brought up at the moment? I often speak about impairing. Our body holds unconscious memories of being the age that our child are. Say you were bullied at age eight. Your body will likely be reliving those memories when your child becomes eight.
As for unlearning the ways of your upbringing, I don’t know if we unlearn them or if we integrate them so that they don’t run the show. The most helpful way to overcome this is to bring understanding into our lives. Compassion sometimes gets bad press as being weak, hippy-dippy, airy-fairy and a bit mythical, but it offers us the skills, strength and commitment to work through the pain. These are precisely what we need to successfully overcome any childhood trauma.
I love a website called Compassionate Mind Foundation. It offers loads of resources to help people carve out space for themselves. I think developing the skills and qualities of compassion helps everybody to carve out an inner ally. We want that trauma to be acknowledged, understood, cared for and cared about by a part of you. I suppose that when you say you want to unlearn the ways of your upbringing, it’s the parts that you don’t like about yourself, parts that perhaps you are repeating within your parenting. The most powerful way to overcome this is to bring in a voice that understands, an agent that’s committed to helping you work through this pain, and one who knows that you can be the person you want to be.
I think for acknowledging childhood trauma, there are so many different therapies that can offer you support. There’s yoga, energy work and many more, but no matter your choice, working through your trauma in a therapeutic context is a powerful way of healing what feels broken inside. I often use art therapy with parents. I bring out art materials when meeting clients to help them express those unconscious memories and help make sense of it all.
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