The Effects of a Difficult Childhood

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A difficult childhood can be defined as one where one or both parents may have been in addiction, have had a difficult childhood themselves that they never dealt with, they may have had anger issues and therefore were frightening, or they may have been cold and critical and perhaps unloving. One or both parents may have been controlling and not accepting of their child’s wishes and/or character.

This can be a stressful and unsupportive environment for a child to grow up in and can lead to all kinds of insecurities such as feelings of not being good enough, feelings of being unsure of who they are, what they really want in life or a feeling that something is wrong but they are not sure what it is.

Commonly, in adulthood, people who have come from difficult backgrounds may:

have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep

often feel emotionally overwhelmed

have nightmares or flashbacks

feel a lot of shame or worthlessness

be chronic people pleasers

be codependent

have panic attacks

may worry excessively and usually expect the worst to happen

have addictive behaviours

have an eating disorder

have chronic pain

have feelings of anxiety, be irritable, often feel stressed, be depressed at times, have frequent feelings of anger or a feeling that they have anger below the surface that they try not to express or feel.

Many of these are coping mechanisms or can be issues that we don’t want to face ‘leaking through’ into our consciousness. 

Talking through these painful issues can be cathartic and there are also practical steps that can be taken to overcome and resolve the side effects of coming from a difficult background.

This can help people to feel lighter, unburdened and no longer as anxious.

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Sarah Graham

Sarah Graham

I am a Counsellor, based in Bournemouth in the UK, with specialist knowledge of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am trained in treating Complex Trauma. I work online and am insured to work in most places in the world.

Link to My Website - Children of Narcissists