How Childhood Trauma Affects Your Life NOW
Whether it’s anxiety, anger, addictive behaviour or any other malady you face, by learning how childhood trauma affects your life, you can begin to understand the processes that underpin the dysfunction within and begin the process of freeing your soul.
Carl Jung once said: “In every adult, there lurks a child—an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed and calls for unceasing care, attention and education.
“That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.”
Whether we acknowledge it or not, this part of us is so fundamental that it impacts our quirks of behaviour, thinking patterns and personality to this day.
Recent research clearly shows the link between negative experiences in childhood and the impact in dictating how we craft the personalities we embody in the world.
Now, when I say ‘negative experiences’, this doesn’t necessarily mean chronic abuse, the truth is that we all face some form of trauma to a degree by virtue of facing the realities and challenges of life.
How Childhood Trauma Affects Your Life: Spiritual/Emotional Trauma
Granted, some of us have faced far more extreme situations than others, meaning a greater wealth of identity around pain in later life, yet at some point, each one of us realises that there is danger in the world.
Once we have such an experience, we’re forced to protect ourselves by building up walls to defend ourselves from external threats – be they actual or perceived.
The nature of these constructions depends upon our temperament – we may build humorous, irreverent personas that brush off insults (or engage in pre-emptive strikes) or tough guy, aggressive personalities in an attempt to keep danger at bay.
While this process is somewhat natural, what isn’t natural is that we stay with these identities – as well as the dysfunctions they breed in later life – forever.
The Victim Identity
Today, we see many folks basing their whole identities on anxiety, depression or an addiction struggle.
Rather than seeing these things as ephemeral issues, it seems we seek identity in pain in order to acquire empathy rather than risk the challenge of transcending our limitations.
Note that transcending an issue doesn’t mean it magically disappears, it means that it no longer defines who you are and frees you to become an integrated and more spacious person.
However, without the knowledge of how to do this, and with the perceived ‘safety’ an identity built in pain offers (many folks cling to an identity of pain as it gives them an excuse to not engage with the world, or as to why they’re not hitting the goals they think they should) people get trapped in this cycle for a lifetime.
But How Do You Transcend Trauma?
Regular readers will know that the core aim of Recovering Man is to restore the inner balance within men via reawakening the links with what I term the earthly, cultural and universal ‘Father’.
This is because in our modern efforts to rid the world of the stultifying effects of traditional masculinity, we’ve overshot as a culture, thereby removing the process by which young men transcend inner disharmony.
This isn’t to say fathers are any better or worse than mothers, but to be mindful that both offer different archetypal forms of provision.
Where the mother offers unconditional, all-accepting love, the father brings forth challenge, discipline and guidance.
Of course both of these have their darksides too, we hear a great deal today about overbearing fathers and toxic masculinity, but much less about overbearing mothers and toxic femininity.
In an ideal world, these darksides are negated when the masculine and feminine poles harmonize, and when this happens, life always blossoms.
Yet at present, we are moving further and further away from that balance.
How Childhood Trauma Affects Your Life: Walking with the Three Fathers
We see this as represented by the present lack of fathers in the home, and if even if fathers are present, there’s an increasing confusion around what a man’s role in the world should be anyway.
This confusion is rooted in the breakdown of the cultural father – the guiding wisdom that men have passed down for centuries in aiding younger males.
Finally, we also see the breakdown of the universal father, which is exemplified by a heavily materialistic culture in which the spirit has no place, leading to a crisis in self-understanding, confidence and clear purpose in the world.
This breakdown of the different forms of the father means we’re left with only the unconditional love of the mother, which while sounding innocuous, deprives men of the challenge, guidance and direction we need to grow and strengthen.
How Childhood Trauma Affects Your Life: Restoring the Balance
Again, regular readers will know that I witnessed my elder brother fall deeply into drug addiction, and during this time I saw him and many other young men without firm guidance in their lives.
Even the state, in its empathetic effort to give these young men unconditional help, provided plenty of benefits which in essence just subsidised a drug habit.
Yet, this approach didn’t heal anyone but actively maintained the cycle of addiction, and most importantly, it deprived these men of experiencing the consequences of their actions that might have woken them up to the changes they urgently needed to make in their lives.
And where are these men now? In jail, homeless, deceased?
Now, none of this is intended to demonise the motherly, feminine approach, which is a vital and healthy approach as long as it is combined with the approach of the fatherly discipline and guidance.
This is why I’ve always based Recovering Man and The Path of Initiation between the poles of empathy and action.
After years struggling with my own inner issues with no idea regarding how childhood trauma affects your life, I found that the way to truly transform and transcend is in the pure acceptance of yourself along with a process of challenge to overcome your present limitations.
How Childhood Trauma Affects Your Life: The Path of Initiation
This is why in the Path of Initiation we must first find the experiences that wounded us and led to the formation of our present identities.
Next we must open the door to forgiveness, especially towards parents, as too often we’ve fallen into a trap of resentment that we feel will give us some form of justice but only makes us more lost and confused as time goes on.
There’s a school of thought that states that in childhood we view our parents as Gods, and when we become resentful towards them in later life, we only reaffirm that confusion by maintaining the anger and pain of the inner child, giving it subconscious supremacy in how we see the world.
By removing this anger and forgiving, we remove the foundation that underpins dysfunctions within, and for the first time, we begin to live in freedom, having taken the most important step a man can take.
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