Hi, Derek Clark here. If you’ve watched my videos, you may already know about my terrible past and how I ended up in the California foster care system. In short, I lived in constant trauma for many years of my childhood. Being neglected and abandoned is something that I will never forget.
However, it’s all past. I have overcame some dark parts of my life, taken responsibility for the direction of my life, and today, I have become one of the most influential trauma informed keynote speakers. In this article, I am going to share with you some of the tips on how I overcame my childhood trauma. These tips are all actionable since it comes from my very own experience. 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, economical impoverishment or sexual abuse. It can also be caused by parents who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or may have mental health issues.
Many people have emotional problems in their adulthood as a result of the situations they 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 can have many consequences and create more serious situations in your relationships.
The good thing is that those remnants of childhood do not have to stay there forever. There are ways to heal, and here we 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. Therapy helped me a lot. 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. It’s a behavior loop that a lot of people can’t get out of.
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? Self talk is so important. As you think you shall become…what you visualize, you materialize.
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”, “nobody loves you”, “I’m not good enough”, 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. Remember, you’re only one thought away from a positive thought.
Try each one of the negative beliefs about yourself that 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, that 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 deeply rooted, but it will flow as you continue to write.
Watch Derek’s latest video about how he triumphed over trauma. Motivational speaker Derek Clark delivers a powerful keynote on childhood trauma and on never giving up despite the many hardships he had to overcome. As a child, he was dropped off at a psychiatric hospital and then abandoned into the San Francisco bay area foster care system for 13 years. Derek shares how he discovered the power of persistent determination and turned struggles into solutions and then into success.
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, go ahead and make a list of your talents and qualities. Find out what you are good at. Discover what makes you feel proud of yourself.
4. Let go of guilt and shame
One of the worst consequences for people who have suffered a difficult childhood is guilt and shame. Adults who have had difficulties as children often live in fear and survival. Become aware of your feelings.
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.
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.
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.
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!
6. Set personal goals
It does not work “to be a good husband,” “good wife,” “good friend.” Set goals that involve yourself and only you. Don’t get lost in others or a title. Be you and work on your own personal growth.
Find the purpose in your life that makes you feel satisfied on a personal level.
Maybe your difficult childhood has led you to always put others ahead of yourself and you start to feel guilty because you are thinking about yourself. Take a moment to decide for yourself what it is that will make you feel fulfilled. Make your life a priority as well.
7. Evaluate your relationships
It is possible that the environment in which you grew up is conditioning how you relate to 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, increase your guilt and make you doubt your self-esteem, you may be repeating the traumatic patterns of your childhood.
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!
***If you’re a non profit organization, company, school district or a conference planner that is looking for an inspiring keynote speaker on childhood trauma, trauma informed, SEL Social Emotional Learning, ACE’s Adverse Childhood Experiences, foster care inspiration, please consider reserving Derek Clark for your next event. His experiential knowledge is priceless which makes him a top motivational keynote speaker and trainer on trauma. Google has listed him #1 for keynote speaker on trauma.