Taking Our Childhood Experiences into Adulthood With Negative Effects

Childhood Experiences Into AdulthoodOur negative childhood experiences shape who we are: But you can fix it now! 

Some people are fortunate to have parents that are active, caring, and supportive. Perhaps they also demonstrate they believe in their kids to move forward in life, thriving. However, some parents did not know how to guide their children because they had no guidance in their childhood. 

Those children who were supported, valued, and felt loved by their parents find it easier to move forward in life because they likely believe in themselves. With their parent’s love and support, these individuals believe they deserve to be happy and are more likely to succeed in life.

However, there are those children who are not so lucky and take their adverse childhood experiences into adulthood. These children and young adults often feel they’re more on their own to move forward in life and struggle to do so because they never learned to believe in themselves. 

Therefore, they often can’t see how things will be better in adulthood. Their messages from parents were negative, and the support was absent. It’s easy to do this when you lacked support in your childhood. How can you pass along something you never had to your children?

Negative Effects of an Inaccurate View of Self In Our Childhood Experiences

It’s prevalent for young adults to carry with them the view of Self they learned from their childhood that was negative. In other words, the little boy or girl inside somehow was not shown their true worth in life.

Many of these young adults continue in life with an inaccurate picture of who they are and what they’re capable of doing. These folks don’t realize that their view of Self came from early childhood experiences from parents, teachers, and kids around them who didn’t know the negative impact their words and actions could have on these young people. 

It’s challenging to know the difference between what parents and teachers told children in childhood versus the actual abilities and values we hold inside, unknown. 

When we don’t examine why some things don’t work for us in our life, we’re losing an opportunity to learn from that experience. By not knowing what works and what doesn’t work, we have less chance to move forward in our life successfully.  

Some people hang on to a belief that they “know better” than other people, so they believe they don’t need to change their ways. That belief is often a child’s way of trusting that what they know must be correct and that they’ll be OK. This is true even when it is an inaccurate view of the actual circumstances.

 Some adults never move past this place of “comfort.”  Those people struggle when things aren’t working the way they wanted.

Sometimes this lack of moving forward in adulthood involves a fear of not succeeding with the unknown. How does the person know they will be ok in the end?

Examples of Not Moving Forward into Adulthood

These examples are not complete but may help you recognize some of the behavioral patterns that don’t work for you:

  1. Finding fault in others rather than examining one’s own actions
  2. Not following through with things in general.
  3. Avoiding challenges in life for fear of failing
  4. Accepting jobs that are not fulfilling for you
  5. Feeling stuck and dissatisfied in life, but doing nothing to remedy those feelings.
  6. Rather than accepting the feedback from others, making excuses of why the feedback is most often inaccurate for you
  7. Moving from one path to another, or from job to job with no movement forward
  8. Not learning from your mistakes.
  9. Continuing to blame parents for your unhappy life

If any of these examples sound familiar, maybe it’s time to rethink what you want to do about not fully moving forward in life.

Sometimes Negative Childhood Experiences Move Us Forward in Life 

These people believe they can thrive in life, even if those individuals were never taught life skills in childhood. Some aren’t sure they have that ability but are unwilling to accept a gloomy life in adulthood in the future, so they push themselves to move forward, with or without guidance.

Those people may not see what’s ahead of them, but what they do know is that they must at least try to move forward in life. They realize that what they’ve experienced so far has not fulfilled them, but they may still believe something inside them will somehow move them forward.

Catching Up To a More Accurate View of Adulthood: The How-To

  1. Take an honest look at what’s worked in your life and what hasn’t.
  2. Identify those things that most negatively affect you.
  3. Figure out what you do want in your life that you don’t yet have. 
  4. Prioritize those things you most want to work on sooner than others.
  5. Take each item individually so you can fully focus on one plan at a time.
  6. Allow your plan to be worked on “over time” and not rushed.
  7. Suppose you don’t know those things that need changing, or don’t know how to fix them, no worries. You may want to get a coach or psychotherapist to help you.
  8. Try not to obsess on those things that are not working. Instead, rethink what you want and make sure you are still on your desired path or plan. 
  9. What do you need to do differently? What’s already working for you that you want to keep?
  10.   Don’t be afraid to ask your friends what has worked for them on their path.

Keeping The Child In Us (that is healthy)

Even though we may not think about it, there are things in your life that you value which have come out of your childhood. What are those early childhood experiences that made you feel free, valued, happy, etc.?

Just because you are in adulthood doesn’t mean there isn’t a little boy or girl inside that would still enjoy some of those experiences in adulthood.

For example, I remember swinging in my backyard for hours. I found it to be relaxing and soothing. I will still do that these days because it feels so good. So for you, find those things you may have forgotten that are soothing or joyful for you and do them now.

Laughter is nourishing and heals us inside. Humor leads to good energy, which is healthy.

Ensure you have enough nourishing things you truly enjoy, whether it’s hobbies, TV, books, music, friends, etc. Make time for healthy things that feel great.

These are some of the gifts childhood brings out in us. Adult life needs to be nourishing, so find what that is for you!

Final Thoughts

If you choose to examine some of these behaviors and patterns, you will likely find new and healthy options in moving forward from here. If something doesn’t work for you, try something else!

Negative experiences in childhood and adulthood can be redefined in terms of moving forward in positive ways. Negative experiences are actually opportunities to grow, learn and make peace with one’s past.

The choice is yours. You can live with negative experiences from your past, or learn from your past and move forward to find things that nourish you. You deserve to be happy.

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on YourTango.com and on MSN.com.

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