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“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional,” is a Buddhist proverb. Everyone has had pain in their childhood. The pain can be as diminutive as finding out that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are a sham, or it can be as immense as being abandoned and abused by someone. Trauma can leave mental, physical, and emotional scars that last a life time. As you transition from childhood to adulthood, letting your past skeletons haunt you will hold back and keep you in self pity.

Adults suffering from childhood traumas tend to self destruct themselves, but here are a few stages you can utilize to help overcome your childhood traumas to lead a healthy and happy life. First of all, you must gain self-awareness. Self-awareness allows you to understand yourself and re-evaluate your life. Before you reached this point, you were lost walking blindly with a “woe is me” attitude down a pothole infested road intertwined with cracks. You’re not the person that you want to be and your life is not going in the direction you want it to. Due to the trauma you’ve endured, you wear a mask that hides your true self.

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During your journey to find self-awareness, make a list of the major negative events, people, and influences that steer you down the wrong path. When making the negative list, start with the childhood event that was traumatic. That event is the beginning of the destructive snowball effect of the other events. With this list, you should consider cutting the negative people and activities you’re involved with out your life, or start limiting the contact you have with them. Next, make a positive list of healthy goals, places you want to go, and things you want achieve.

A few examples of healthy goals include attending college, playing sports, and traveling. Put down things that are positive and will keep you out of trouble. Then implement what you put down in your life. For instance, if you want to go to college enroll in a community college near your home. During your self-awareness journey, seek counseling. Counseling will give you guidance, advice, and support. You can talk to someone you know and trust, but I don’t recommend that because when you confide with people you know, they tend to tell you what you want to hear not what you need to hear.

It is better to find a professional such as a psychologist, a counselor, or join a support group that can help give you tools to keep your constructive progress going. Talking with an outer support groups such as AA meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous meetings) will help you release the burden you’ve been holding onto and help you come to terms with what actually happened to you. Support groups are good outlets because you can meet people that are going through similar problems. Those people are trying to better themselves and get their life on track.

Attending groups can help develop positive friendships that could last for a lifetime. It does take time, but once you’re done, you’ll feel like a caged bird set free to fly. The next step is medication. This step is optional because you may feel happy just going to counseling, or you may not need it at all. A lot of adults that have traumatic childhood suffer from depression. According to WebMD, a few symptoms include difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, loss of interest, and irritability.

There are many types of depression that can affect people. Even though counseling is another way of treating depression it may not be enough. To determine whether you need medication, make an appointment with your doctor to get diagnosed and prescribed anti-depressants. Anti-depressants are divided into different classes. Each class affects your level of neurotransmitters. According to Bobby Hasselbring article entitled “How do anti-depressants work? ” depression is said to be caused by low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.

Not all anti-depressants work the same; some affect the brain chemistry a little differently. For example, the anti-depressant called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Zoloft and Prozac, work by slowing or blocking the neuron that takes back released serotonin. If your depression isn’t dealt with you will not be able to improve and it can lead to suicide. Finally, the last step is self-interest. Self-interest is doing things that interest you. The positive list you made in the beginning comes back into play. There are a lot of different activities you can do that are productive.

Playing sports is a great way to release aggression. Think of doing contact sports like football, rugby, or even working out by yourself. Sometimes being able to hit people and get knocked around is the perfect remedy. If being physical isn’t something you like doing take a more spiritual and emotional route such as music, poetry, or writing. Start writing and using your word to express yourself. Since your trauma happened while you were a child you really couldn’t voice yourself because you fear and lack understanding of the event.

Now you’re grown and have come to terms with everything that has happened. You’re able to do things that make you happy and introduce you to a new life and a new you. These steps can lead you to happiness. It’s up to you to actually follow them because you are the only one that can help yourself. Even though your childhood trauma had a negative impact on your life, you now have the tools to transform. These steps will give you empowerment and a new outlook on life. Don’t dwell on something you can’t go back in time to change. Just keep moving forward and aim for greatness.

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