Adverse Childhood Experiences And It’s Impact

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Adverse childhood experiences we more often identify with physical abuse, death of a loved one or the experience of war. Something tragic that has happened in our lives. In reality, traumatic experiences can be much simpler and can happen to all of us on a daily basis.

Barriers Imposed By Adverse Childhood Experiences

In my previous article, How We Create Patterns Of Self-Sabotage, I explained how easily we can create self-destructive patterns. I recommend reading this article first to better understand the topic at hand.

Now we will delve into our feelings and try to identify and break down the barriers we have imposed. We can touch on painful and traumatic experiences from the past.

You may feel resistance thinking about it, and a little uncomfortable. That’s because your subconscious mind may want to push you away from it as some feelings may still not be healed.

Just remember that this is not intended to shoot you down, but to pick you up. We want to bring to light your negative feelings, thoughts and experiences. Write them down, and give you the tools to identify and solve your self-destructive patterns.

Self-sabotage is awaken by your subconscious mind, but it’s not you who create it. It was created out of an experience or event in your life that had a significant impact on you.

Turning Everything I Do Into A Joke

In the previous article, we covered a very simple case where John gives a presentation in front of a class. Then he is bullied by his schoolmates.

I’m sure most of us can easily relate to this situation. Either, experience this personally or as a witness when we were younger.

We already know that this is a traumatic experience that can dramatically affect our adult life.

I can give you another example from my own life. As a child, I was often sick. My mom always tried home remedies first, and if that didn’t work, she took me to the doctor. She cared for me a lot and continues to do so.

But my entire childhood I heard from my mum that I must be a good student, because I am not physically healthy. And will never be able to work physically.

She always writes a note to my PE teacher. Saying that I am not feeling well, and cannot participate with other children’s in physical activities this week.

As a result, I was poor in physical exercise, which made other children bullying me. As a self-defense mechanism, I was always joking with what I was doing. Turning everything I do into a joke becomes my unhealthy habit.

I subconsciously carried this into all aspects of my life. Creating a pattern of self-sabotage that resulted in a lack of confidence and perseverance as an adult.

RELATED: Toxic Friends That Hold You Back

Chris And Emma

Chris, as a kid, learned to catastrophize everything in his life and always plan for the worst. That was the only way he knew how to deal with his alcoholic and abusive father.

Emma’s, parents always saw her as a lazy kid. She grew up feeling useless and ineffective. As an adult, Emma gets involving in self-sabotaging thoughts to not even try to do something. Why bother, she will not succeed anyway.

Understanding The Thoughts And Emotions That Lead To Self-Sabotage

I mentioned in my previous article that self-sabotage patterns often make sense. We learned from the examples of John, Chris, Emma, and my own.

These behaviours help us adapt to a particularly traumatic experience or toxic relationship. It helps us survive the challenge we face, but these coping methods can create difficulties when our situation changes.

Patterns set in our earliest relationships, we repeat often in relationships throughout our lives. We have an attachment to these patterns. They mean something to us and it’s hard to give them up.

Your current situation is different from the past, but breaking out of the same destructive patterns can be difficult.

The first step in breaking the self-sabotage cycle is to become aware of these behaviours. It is very helpful if you find the root cause when it started. Being trauma aware and trauma-informed is in everyone’s interest.

Definition Of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)

The term Adverse Childhood Experiences we use to describe a wide range of stressful or traumatic experiences that babies, children and young people (under 18) are expose to whilst growing up.

As the number of adverse childhood experiences increased for an individual child, so did their risk of experiencing a range of physical and mental health conditions during their lifetime.

‘Chronic toxic stress’ can have a lasting effect on physical and mental health and well-being from birth to the older years. These effects we can pass on to further generations, which can cause inter-generational harm.

In practice, to be trauma-informed requires a cultural shift from ‘What’s wrong with you? to ‘What happened to you?’’ and to follow through with ‘How has this affected your life?’ and ‘Who is there for you?’

Most Common Adverse Childhood Experiences

Below you can find the ACE impact statistics. But first, I invite you to calculate how many ACEs you have been affected by.

Count your score and review all the statistics below to understand the impact of ACE on our adulthood.

There are 10 types of childhood trauma in the ACE Study. Each type of trauma counts as one. Person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

Five types of childhood trauma are personal:

  • verbal abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse
  • emotional neglect
  • and physical neglect

Five are related to other family members:

  • a family member diagnosed with a mental illness
  • a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence
  • a parent who’s an alcoholic
  • the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment
  • and a family member in jail

Other Types Of Childhood Trauma

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma. Racism, bullying, watching a sibling abusing, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc).

As well as homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident. Witnessing a father being bullied by a mother. Witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc.

The ACE Study include only the first 10 childhood traumas because those are the most common. The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline.

If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of mental or physical health consequences.

Healing Traumatic Experiences

From my journey to healing childhood traumatic experiences, I know it won’t happen overnight. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it yet, that’s the process.

Recognizing, challenging, forgiving yourself, and healing your subconscious sabotage behaviour takes time, and don’t expect to resolve these issues immediately.

The most important thing is to be aware of it, commit to change, trust the process and focus on building your future.

The great news is that once you know what’s stopping you from succeeding, you can take proactive steps to overcome these obstacles. And guess what, I’m in perfect physical health. In 2019 and 2020, I faced two ultra-running challenges. Taking five million steps in 101 days and running 7,000 miles unsuported through Asia.

When I say ‘You can have it’ I’m speaking from experience, not only repeating fancy catchphrases.

RELATED: Fatherhood Challenges – Why Did I Run 7,000 Miles

70/30 Campaign By Trust Wave

I want to draw your attention to the Wave Trust charity, which I support as its ambassador, and to our 70/30 campaign.

We are the UK-wide network of individuals, organizations and elected representatives working together to reduce child abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) by at least 70% by the year 2030. We call this goal the 70/30 Campaign.

This ambitious, but feasible goal is necessary because at least half of children in the UK will suffer ACEs during their childhood.

The trauma caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is at the heart of many problems in our society today. This is a national health crisis and it’s time we tackle ACEs effectively.

With your help, we could see the 70/30 goal become a reality. Together with masses of local activists, practitioners, charities and politicians, we can make the years between now and 2030 a decade of social transformation.

The Impact Of Wave Trust

Wave’s Trust work is used internationally by UNICEF in Asia and Europe and by healthcare experts in Italy, Australia, Iceland, and many other countries.

Wave Trust has been praised by the World Health Organisation and translated into multiple languages (including Icelandic), and was described as a ‘manifesto for the world’ by a senior United Nations official.

WAVE is an active member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Violence Prevention Alliance and is coordinating the British group of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network for Trauma-Informed Prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

A WAVE-led coalition of early years experts was responsible for the inclusion of prevention in the Scottish Children & Young People Act 2014.

We brought preventive programmes (Family-Nurse Partnership and Roots of Empathy) to the UK, which have benefitted over 80,000 children and families.

We have established multi-nation, cross-sector workshops for senior decision-makers across the UK and Republic of Ireland, training them on child development and trauma, and solutions for prevention of ACE’s.

Click on the picture below to Sign Up Now for a FREE COURSE: “Learn How To Practice MINDFUL RUNNING On Your Daily Runs.”


About Post Author

Tomasz Drybala

Tomasz Drybala is an ultra-endurance athlete and explorer, life coach, motivational speaker and ambassador. His most significant ultra-running challenges are taking five million steps in 101 days and running 7,000 miles unsupported through Asia. Tom's corporate and university coaching programmes and workshops attracted thousands of people; gaining great feedback from professors, university chancellors, students, employees and business leaders. Through his ambassadorship for the charity Wave Trust in the years 2020 to 2024, Tom collaborates with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, schools, colleges, universities and multi-country local and national governments. Bring together towns, cities and counties that are dedicated to preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences and setting up Trauma-Informed Communities. His ultra-endurance challenges and the practice of running mindfulness and active meditation are the subjects of scientific research by one of London's leading universities. Tom works with people from all walks of life to help them break the habit of self-doubt, build resilience and confidence, and create the lifestyle they want and deserve.
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