Presented by BetterHelp.
Though our success and happiness are ultimately up to our willpower and drive to create a good life, our childhood can have a huge impact too. In general, children who grow up in joyful, loving, and financially stable homes are happier, physically and mentally healthy, and more successful.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to such wonderful homes and instead experiences adverse childhoods. Here are five ways that your childhood may be impacting your adult life.
Self-esteem is critical for success and a happy life. Adults with healthy self-esteem typically had loving families, many friends, and a vast support network. They were encouraged to do their best and loved even if they failed or made mistakes. They grew up knowing that they have intrinsic value no matter what happens and are always worthy of love, happiness, and success.
People who don’t have these childhoods enter adulthood with a significant disadvantage. Without love and support from family and friends, they may struggle to feel any self-worth. Their self-worth further deteriorates if their family was abusive or overly critical. As a result, these adults may spend the rest of their lives believing they aren’t worthy of love because their parents harmed or mistreated them.
Many mental illnesses have roots in genetics or childhood upbringing. For many, their symptoms begin in youth, though not everyone receives treatment early on. However, receiving treatment, support, and coping mechanisms as soon as possible can help ease the symptoms and make the condition easier to manage in adulthood.
Therefore, those who experience untreated mental health conditions may struggle with them more later on in life. Without treatment or care, symptoms can worsen over time, causing great distress and pain. Even if the condition cannot be cured, receiving treatment in childhood can make life easier and more manageable later on.
Success is far easier to attain if you had a happy and fulfilling childhood. Children who are loved, experience joy, and live in financial stability tend to be much happier and are more prepared to follow their dreams and create their dream life. In addition, they have access to more resources and connections that can help them in their career and are emotionally supported by their parents even if they fail.
Though financial and career success is not impossible if you do not have these advantages, it will be much harder to achieve them. For example, you won’t have the same access to the resources needed for success (such as college), and it may be harder to achieve specific goals without emotional support and unconditional love.
Furthermore, a child who was abused or experienced an adverse childhood will struggle with their mental health and the lack of a support network to fall back on. That means when times are tough, they may receive little help and will struggle to stay resilient and mentally healthy throughout the challenging period.
**If you currently experience domestic violence or have in the past, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for help and resources.**
A child’s connection with their parents and caregivers can determine how they connect and attach to others throughout the rest of their lives. Those who develop a secure attachment with their parents often have no problem developing healthy friendships and relationships later.
However, if the parents or caregivers neglected or abused the child, or at the very least could not care for their needs, then the child may develop an insecure attachment. This can have devastating consequences for future relationships. In adulthood, they may become anxious and clingy, avoidant and detached, or a mix of both. This can make it far more challenging to create healthy relationships and secure attachments, leading to isolation and loneliness.
Experiencing abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events can stick with a person for a very long time. When post-traumatic stress disorder develops, part of the brain remains frozen in the moment of the trauma, making it difficult for the person to move forward. Therefore they may be in a constant state of fight or flight until they find a successful treatment.
Since trauma leads to increased anxiety, isolation, and hypervigilance, it can affect every area of life, including relationships and careers. A person struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder never feels a reprieve and constantly feels in danger no matter where they are or what they are experiencing.
Experiencing trauma in childhood can be even more difficult since the brain is still developing when the traumatic memory occurs. Treatment is not impossible but very difficult to achieve.
If you experienced a difficult childhood or any adverse events, then know that you are not doomed to an unhappy life. Though adulthood may be more difficult, you can still heal and live a joyful and satisfying life. With therapy, mindfulness, and a good support network, you can heal yourself from your childhood experiences. To learn more about how your childhood impacts your adult life, you can find more resources and information at the link below: