People who haven’t let go of their childhood wounds usually display these 9 behaviors

It’s no secret that our past can shape our present and future.

Childhood, especially, is a critical period that can leave lasting impacts, both good and bad. Sometimes, these impacts come in the form of wounds that we carry far into adulthood.

These wounds can subtly influence our behaviors, often without us even realizing it.

If you’ve ever wondered why someone behaves a certain way, their childhood experiences could be a big part of the answer.

In this article, we’ll be exploring some common behaviors displayed by those who haven’t quite let go of their childhood wounds. 

1) Overly defensive

People often say that defense is the first form of attack. This couldn’t ring truer for those carrying lingering childhood wounds.

This behavior usually manifests itself as an overreaction to criticism or perceived threats. It’s almost as if they’re still fighting those old battles, long after they’ve ended.

These individuals can be quick to defend themselves, even when it’s not necessary. In their minds, they’re protecting themselves from further hurt—a survival mechanism from their past.

Understanding this can help us better interact with such individuals, and possibly aid them in healing these old wounds.

But remember, change comes from within, and it’s not our job to fix others; we can only offer support.

2) Difficulty trusting others

Trust is a tricky thing, especially for those of us who’ve been hurt in the past.

I remember this from a friend of mine who had a tough childhood.

She’d been let down by important people in her life, over and over again. As an adult, she found it incredibly hard to trust anyone, even in the simplest of situations.

For example, if we made plans to meet up, she’d always have a backup plan, just in case I didn’t show up. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust me specifically; she just found it hard to rely on anyone.

This is not an uncommon behavior for those still holding on to childhood wounds. It’s their way of ensuring they won’t be let down again. 

3) Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a double-edged sword. While it drives some individuals to achieve great things, it can also be a symptom of unresolved childhood wounds.

Studies have found that children who grew up in chaotic or unpredictable environments often develop perfectionist tendencies. The thinking is that if they can just get everything right, they can prevent bad things from happening.

As adults, this can translate into an unhealthy obsession with perfection, leading to high-stress levels and even burnout.

4) Fear of abandonment

Childhood is a crucial time for bonding and forming secure attachments.

When this process is disrupted or damaged, it can leave deep-seated fears that persist into adulthood.

One of the most common fears for those who carry childhood wounds is the fear of abandonment.

This fear can affect relationships, causing individuals to cling too tightly or push others away to avoid the pain of potential rejection.

5) Emotional volatility

pic2091 People who haven’t let go of their childhood wounds usually display these 9 behaviors

Emotions are a normal part of the human experience.

But for those with unresolved childhood wounds, emotions can be particularly hard to handle.

They may have difficulty regulating their emotions due to past traumas. As a result, they may swing from one emotional extreme to another rapidly and without apparent cause.

This emotional volatility can be confusing and exhausting, both for them and the people around them. 

6) Difficulty expressing needs

Sometimes, the hardest thing in the world is to ask for what we need—and this is especially true for those who carry childhood wounds.

Many of these people may have grown up in environments where expressing their needs was frowned upon or even punished. So, they learned to suppress their needs and emotions to avoid further pain.

As adults, this can leave them feeling voiceless, unable to articulate their needs in relationships or situations.

It’s a heartbreaking reality to know that they are often just yearning to be heard.

7) Struggle with self-esteem

Self-esteem is like a plant—when it’s nurtured, it flourishes, but when it’s neglected, it withers.

I know, because I was that neglected kid, once. Growing up, I was always the shy kid in the corner, the one who never believed in herself.

I didn’t realize then how much my childhood experiences had chipped away at my self-esteem. It felt like a constant battle to believe I was good enough, capable enough.

This struggle is common for those who carry childhood wounds. They may constantly question their worth and abilities, often leading to a harsh inner critic that is difficult to silence.

Spotting this behavior can be a wake-up call, reminding us to be kinder to ourselves and others. After all, we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

8) Avoidance of intimacy

Intimacy can be a beautiful thing. But for those with unresolved childhood wounds, it can also be incredibly scary.

Intimacy requires vulnerability, and for those who’ve been hurt in the past, vulnerability might feel like a risk they’re not willing to take.

This can result in the avoidance of close relationships or emotional walls that keep others at a safe distance.

9) The mask of strength

One of the most profound behaviors shown by those carrying childhood wounds is their remarkable strength. Often, they’ve had to be resilient from a young age, developing a tough exterior to protect themselves.

However, this mask of strength can also hide their true feelings, making it difficult for them to seek help when they need it.

It’s a paradox: their strength becomes both their shield and their prison.

Remember, it’s okay to admit vulnerability and seek help. Real strength lies in acknowledging our pain and working through it, not in hiding it.

Unmasking the past

Human behavior is complex and often deeply intertwined with our past experiences. Childhood wounds, in particular, can leave indelible marks that shape the way we interact with the world.

Understanding these behaviors is not just about identifying patterns. It’s about acknowledging the profound impact of these past experiences and recognizing the resilience of those who carry these wounds.

As Carl Jung once said, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

This sentiment rings true for those grappling with childhood wounds. The journey towards healing may be arduous, but it is also a testament to the human spirit’s ability to adapt and grow.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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