I had a dear colleague once say to me “We didn’t know what we didn’t know. When we know, we do better”. I hear myself repeating this phrase often, because blame and shame are not healthy, period. Yet, if we don’t look back to reflect on the need for change and growth, then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I have written reflections in the past on the research around the impact of adverse childhood events (ACEs) on the individual and today I want to share the research that shows the impact of such events doesn’t stop with the individual!
Both of my own parents experienced childhood trauma and stressors, which thwarted their emotional growth trajectories, yet they didn’t know that about themselves and neither did society. However, I definitely sensed that something was off and, as little ones will naturally do, I attempted to fill in the gaps. Impossible, I know now, but I didn’t know then. How ironic.
With this new research from UCLA reflecting a strong association between children’s behavioral health problems and their parents’ adversity histories, we now know better. When our awareness grows around our past, it brings a deeper understanding of our experiences and our normal, natural adaptive responses. With that deeper understanding, our hearts can begin to heal from events that our conscious minds were not even present to directly witness, yet stuck in our bodies instead. We can create opportunities for ourselves to challenge those strongly guarded, unspeakable beliefs that there must be something wrong with us or that we are not worthy of acceptance and love, which keep us from a meaningful connection with ourselves and to others.
So, if you currently suffer from symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety and/or depression, and are not aware of experiencing any adverse childhood events yourself, perhaps consider exploring any that your parents might have been subjected to as they grew up. Please remember that this exploration and what it might uncover is not meant to blame your parents. It is meant to shine a light on the blame and shame that you might be carrying and that is feeding the self-judgment that is holding you back from a life full of connection, meaning and health.
To read more on this research, click on the button below: