Hi, Derek Clark here. If you have watched my YouTube Channel, you may already know about my terrible childhood past as well as how I ended up in the California foster care system. In short, I lived in constant trauma most of my childhood. Being neglected and abandoned is something that I will never forget.
However, it’s all past. I have overcome some dark parts of my life, taken responsibility for the direction of my life, and today, I have become one of the most influential and inspiring childhood trauma keynote speakers. In this article, I am going to share with you some of the tips on how I overcame my childhood trauma. I may share more tips later but these 7 keys are a great starting place for you. They are all actionable since it comes from my very own experience. Also, having a great therapist will help you have a new perspective and integrate in the present moment. Here we go!
From Traumatic Childhood to Triumph
When what limits us today is because of a traumatic moment of our past, we need to recognize and transform it. You may have heard “What happens in your childhood marks the rest of your life.” It is true but we must make a conscious effort to not let our past infect our future. A problematic childhood can be caused by severe situations, such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, economical impoverishment or sexual abuse. It can also be caused by parents who are addicted to drugs, pills, alcohol or may have mental health issues.
Childhood trauma doesn’t just end at 18 years old. Many people have emotional problems in their adulthood as a result of the abusive situations they’ve experienced as children. The lack of affection and family attachment, even if it does not reach an abusive situation, is very hard for a child. The feeling of not being loved and accepted as a child can create many behavioral loops as an adult and can affect relationships in a negative way.
The good thing is that those remnants of childhood do not have to stay there forever. There are ways to heal, and here I recommend 7 steps to achieve it. (In spite of this, do not deny the idea of going to therapy if you feel that you just cannot. For me, EMDR therapy worked wonders with my PTSD)
1. Identify the way you talk to yourself
Many times people who feel bad or have low self-esteem repeat negative things about themselves all the time.
Most of the time, they are negative ways in which their parents referred to them. If you want to improve your self-esteem and overcome your traumas, the first thing you should identify is: How do you talk to yourself?
If you discover that when you are alone with your mind, you only repeat negative phrases such as “you are a failure,” “you’re a loser,” “you always ruin it,” etc… then that’s where you have to start to work.
Try to discover those phrases and write them down in a notebook and write positive things about yourself. Try repeating a three-word inspiring phrase like, “I am strong. I am creative. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am loved. I am talented. I am a child of God.” Try to find the phrase that you most likely will connect with and repeat it during your day for 21 days and see the positive that comes from it. How you think, you can attract into your life. In other words, what you visualize, you can materialize.
2. Replace those negative concepts
Now that you have discovered the way you treat yourself, you should try to change it to a more positive one.
With each of the negative beliefs you have, try to contradict it with a positive phrase. The best thing you can do at this point is to try to sustain positive statements with facts because it gives them more strength.
In the notebook where you wrote all the bad things that you say, next to the phrase “I am a failure,” write: “I am a person who has achieved great achievements, like …” and write your most significant achievements.
As you write each one, it can be difficult at first because you have old ideas of yourself deeply rooted, but it will flow as you continue to write.
3. Build a new set of beliefs
Now that you have eliminated and changed your negative beliefs while diving into the positive things about yourself that you have written…
Make a list of your talents and qualities. Write what you are good at. Discover what makes you feel proud of yourself. What talents make your heart sing?
4. Forget about guilt
One of the worst consequences for people who have suffered a difficult childhood is guilt. Adults who have had difficulties as children often live with shame, self-blame guilt, fear and survival is a must. Become aware of your feelings. Think about what you are thinking about.
When making decisions, or when you feel bad and do not understand why… take a moment to reflect on your feelings. Many times the residual effects of a traumatic childhood are too close to the heart to feel. I used to think that crying was a weakness and that I didn’t want to feel. But the truth is crying cleanses you and helps brings clarity and…you must feel to heal…Deal, Feel and Heal! You must learn to be at peace with your feelings if you intend to overcome your problems. Run towards your destiny and not your history. I have found that after a real ugly cry in desperation comes the inspiration and motivation to change my situation. (that rhymed. Haha)
5. Let yourself be pampered
Admittedly, for those negative beliefs that you brought from childhood, it has been difficult for you to feel that you deserve what is right for you…to take good care of yourself.
Specifically, you may feel guilty for doing things that you like. Now that you are trying to banish the guilt of your mind, it is an excellent time to take advantage of doing things that you want…healthy minded things.
Those things that make you and nobody else happy. What makes your heart sing? Or what makes your soul feel free? Maybe it’s a creative outlet. Everyone should have a creative outlet. Or maybe it’s going out for a walk once a day, going to the theatre, dancing, painting, creating music or creative writing. Whatever it is, do it! It’s good for your soul and de-stresses you…which is great for your immune system as stress can ruin it.
6. Set personal goals
It does not work to be just “ a good husband,” ” a good wife,” or ” a good friend.” Set goals that involve yourself and only you. Don’t get lost in others or a title. Basically, don’t lose yourself. Be you and work on your own personal growth everyday.
Find the purpose in your life that makes you feel satisfied on a personal level. I love the quote “The meaning of life is to give your life meaning.” I try to live that everyday.
Maybe your difficult childhood has led you to a point where you put others always ahead of yourself and you feel guilty if you think about yourself. Take a moment to decide for yourself what makes you feel fulfilled. Make your life a priority as well. Make your mental health a priority too. If you take care of the inside stuff, your outside world will be much better. Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. If your inside world is chaotic then your outside world might be chaos as well.
7. Evaluate your relationships
Is it possible that the environment in which you grew up is conditioning how you relate to the present moment? Yes! So many people unpack in the past and wonder why there present moment is full of despair, anger and bitterness. We have to learn to let go and grow and be in the present moment.
Are old patterns repeated in it? If you feel that you surround yourself with people who do not accept you as you are, who permanently demand more of what you can give or increase your guilt and make you doubt your self-esteem, you may be repeating the traumatic patterns of your childhood. Start making yourself a priority and be choosy who you let in your life. No more toxic relationships. It’s not worth your mental health. When you’re ready, be open for healthy relationships. Make a commitment to yourself that you will not allow any more drama.
When you discover people around you that lead you to repeat patterns like that, try to take a break from them. You should have people in your life that help elevate you. It’s time to level up!
Derek Clark is an inspiring conference keynote speaker on surviving childhood trauma, child abuse prevention, aces – adverse childhood experiences, early childhood development, foster care, social emotional learning and child welfare. You can find out more at www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com Reserve Derek now to make your next conference or event the best one yet!