Anxiety affects many people from all walks of life. Being anxious has become commonplace and anyone you talk to can probably tell you about a time in their lives that they have experienced anxiety. A common misconception that most people have about anxiety is that it is caused by current experiences, such as a stressful job, money issues, or illness. However, when anxiety hits, it’s most likely caused by a traumatic experience in childhood that has caused your mind to react in a fight or flight way when you experience certain stressors. Discovering and treating the root cause of anxiety can easily free you from a lifetime of emotional and mental anguish.
Jennifer tapped the keys on her laptop to begin the presentation. She saw the tremor begin in her little finger and slowly work its way across her entire hand. She knew that the board of executives was counting on her to convince these clients to sign. Suddenly, she was back in middle school, shifting in her hard, cold desk chair as her sweaty fingers created silvery grey smears out of the meticulously written notes on her card. She swallowed hard as she heard her name called and inched slowly out of her seat and took shaky steps toward the front of the classroom. She could feel the eyes of her peers burning into the back of her. Her breath hitched in her throat as she reached the podium. She turned to face the class and began her speech when her mind went blank and panic set in at the discovery that her notecards were smeared beyond recognition. Jennifer’s mind and body seemed frozen to the spot. Unable to speak or move, she stood there for what seemed like an eternity. The weight of her classmates’ giggles turned to laughter crushing her chest. Snapping back to the present moment, Jennifer took a deep breath and steeled herself against the anxiety that was quickly building inside of her. “Here we go again,” she thought.
Jennifer has anxiety and it rears its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. She has had enough of trying to tame the same reaction time and time again but doesn’t know how to stop it. This is a common situation and most people do not realize that the anxiety they feel has come from a negative experience from childhood.
Many things happen to us in our childhoods that have had a profound effect on our reactions to situations today. We call it stress and manage it by medications, alcohol, food, or any other thing that soothes our nerves. This has come to be the norm for adults as stress and anxiety are synonymous with work.
It doesn’t have to be this way and your inner child is begging you to release this mindset. You can start by acknowledging your painful childhood experiences and then decide if you will hold on to them or release them. Remember, childhood trauma is something that happened to you, it does not need to be something that defines you. You have the power to release that trauma and heal your inner child.
Jayden watched the puff of dirt that his converse stirred up under the hot afternoon sun at the neighborhood ballfield. He hoped this would be the day that he would be chosen by a captain— any captain—it didn’t matter to him. He just didn’t want to be last…again. His head dropped with every name called, until finally, shoulders slumped, toes kicking dirt, he shuffled over to his teammates knowing that he wasn’t chosen and feeling like a burden because he joined their team by default.
Jayden’s experience may seem like nothing serious, but the emotional scars are very real and have wreaked havoc on his self-confidence. Real childhood trauma can happen with any type of experience, and can even occur based on how the experience is remembered by the person who went through it.
It doesn’t matter if you are 100% correct in your memory of the incident or not. What matters is how you have reacted to your memory of it. That is the trauma that must be released. You may be dismissing your traumatic childhood experience because, from an adult perspective, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. However, to your eight-year-old self, it was the biggest deal in the entire world. You were probably told that you were overreacting, or you did not have your feelings validated at that moment. Instead, they were dismissed, leaving you to deal with the pain of the situation by yourself.
Other people’s opinions do not negate the trauma you feel. Let go of the belief that you need to reach a certain level of childhood trauma to be worthy of inner child work. You are worthy right now, no matter how insignificant others think your experiences were. If it’s holding you back, it’s not insignificant.
As a society, we have been taught to define ourselves. We proudly wear our warning labels for the world to see. We put on our best face for the world to see, and in our minds, label that face as damaged, incompetent, or worse, because that’s what we’ve been taught to do. What we need to do is release the trauma, not embrace it.
Healing your inner child heals all parts of your current life that are affected by that experience. Think about your reactions to certain situations. Some people may be able to handle something well, like public speaking, while you may have a negative reaction that creates high anxiety when faced with the same experience. This does not make you any less of an adult nor does it mean that you have a new label to add to your persona. This means that it’s time for you to embrace your inner child and start healing from the legitimate, real trauma that you have experienced.
Childhood trauma doesn’t have to be extreme to make it worthy enough to be worked on. Childhood trauma can be something as simple as being silenced when you wanted to say something, having your excitement squelched when you wanted to express your joy, or always being picked last in a friendly neighborhood ballgame. Whatever it is, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others, it has affected you to this day and is worthy of inner child work.
Every single experience no matter how tiny is enough. It’s time to release those wounds. You are enough. The choice is yours. You get to decide if you will define yourself by your childhood traumas and allow your light to dim or you can allow yourself to create the life you’ve always wanted by releasing these trauma bonds and embracing the beautiful soul that you are and have always been.