Is Your Childhood Hijacking Your Life?

Everybody adult on the planet has one thing in common – they had a childhood. That’s where the similarities end, however. Siblings growing up in the same household have different childhoods, even if nothing else changes. They can share the same parents, the same room, the same history, and yet their experiences will be completely different.

Because we are individuals, the experiences we have are never going to be exactly like someone else’s, even if they are right there with us going through the same things we do.

Many years ago I did accident reports for a major insurance company. I was regularly amazed at how many different stories were reported about the same accident. Confused, I would check to see if I had gotten the dictation cassettes mixed up, but I hadn’t. The memories of the experience were that different for each witness.

As adults, we are the sum total of our experiences. Everything we have gone through in life is stored in our memories, and even in our DNA. Unfortunately, nobody makes it through childhood without some physical and emotional scars. Occasionally, we won’t consciously remember where a particular scar came from, but that information is stored in our amazing body, which records everything that ever happens to us.

Unfortunately, nobody makes it through childhood without some physical and emotional scars.

Emotions are chemicals, and we feel them in different parts of our bodies. The terms such as “gut feeling,” “heartache,” and “sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach” came from literal feelings in those locations. If we process the emotions in a healthy manner, we feel the emotion, then the chemical cycles through our liver and out of our body. If we DON’T process the emotion, or if it is ignored or not validated, the chemical cycles around and around until it gets lodged in the weakest part of our body, causing health issues. The memory of the event often sneaks into our everyday waking life and takes over, without us ever being the wiser.

If you were to cut your finger while cooking dinner, you would immediately stop what you were doing, clean the wound and put some antiseptic and a bandage on it, if needed. You wouldn’t just look at it, shrug, and say, “Eh, time heals all wounds, it will be OK,” and ignore it. Logic and experience tells us that the wound will probably get infected if we don’t do something for it.

Yet we often ignore our emotions, hoping they’ll go away. Strong emotions, in particular, are uncomfortable and often humiliating, so we stuff them, deny their existence, and pretend the experience never happened. But when you stuff them, they cause havoc with your health, your relationships, and your life in general. Healing from emotional traumas requires an active participation on your part.

Healing from emotional traumas requires an active participation on your part.

Your mind is created to protect you, and keep you safe. That’s why new experiences are scary – your mind doesn’t know if you will be safe or not. If the experience turns out to be traumatic for you, your mind determines that it will never let you do anything like that again. If you were humiliated as a child when the teacher asked you to solve a math problem on the board, your mind will cause resistance or discomfort to prevent that ever happening again – so as an adult, you may be terrified to speak in front of a group, or make a presentation at work. If you were abused as a child, your mind will always be on hyper-drive in an attempt to protect you, seeing everything through the eyes of “I’m not safe, the world is a dangerous place,” which makes risky behavior, such as applying for a new job, leaving a job for the world of an entrepreneur, or entering into a new relationship extremely difficult, if not impossible for you.

The good news is that it is possible to reprogram your brain so that you look at everything in your life in a different light. Triggers that were debilitating can be processed so that they no longer have any effect on you. You will most likely still remember the incident, but it won’t have any power to trigger your fight-or-flight response.

That’s what’s so cool about being a human. We have the power to choose how we feel about anything, how we respond, and ultimately how our experiences will shape us.

That’s what’s so cool about being a human. We have the power to choose how we feel about anything, how we respond, and ultimately how our experiences will shape us.

What kind of a life do you want to have? Do you want to go through your days reacting from your childhood self, or do you want to respond and choose what kind of life you would like to live?

The amazing thing is whatever your mind can think about, you can achieve. You can have the life of your dreams.

About the Author

Michelle Nagel

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Michelle Nagel is the founder and president of Soul Shift, Inc and the author of Out of the Darkness, Into the Light. Michelle travels widely, sharing her profound insights about moving beyond the invisible thoughts that keep us stuck.