Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

How your childhood affects you as an adult


How your childhood affects you forever

Our childhoods leave us with a lasting impression, one that affects us throughout our lives. As infants, we are a ‘blank slate’ upon which early experiences make their mark. If our parents are kind, consistent and loving we learn that the world is a safe place to be in. If our parents are neglectful, cruel or unpredictable in their love and care, we generalise this experience and see the world as an unsafe place where others can’t be trusted. (If you want to know more about this – look up “Attachment Theory by John Bowlby).

Part of what makes us who we are is genetically determined, such as whether we are shy or outgoing but many of our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and the world come from how our parents treated us and what we observed as children. Our childhoods leave us with a ‘story’ that colours the way we see the world. Sometimes, we deny the story exists or we see it through rose-tinted glasses but our story will begin to show us its influence through our behaviour, thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms. Sometimes, when we find ourselves acting in ways we never thought we would, it might just be your background story trying to tell you something.

If you find yourself acting out of character, looking for ways to escape your reality, there might just be an underlying issue that needs addressing.

Possible signs that show you haven’t dealt with your past adequately:

  • You regularly look for ways to escape your life – through drugs, alcohol or unhealthy excessive behaviours.
  • You have uncontrollable rage or anger that seems hard to manage.
  • You have had a pattern of unhappy/unhealthy relationships.
  • You have many secrets in your life, possibly a double life that no one knows about.
  • There is a lack of open and honest communication between family members.
  • You see the world as unsafe where others can never be trusted.

There are many possible signs that you may not have dealt with issues from your past. More often than not, residual damage will continue to influence you in later life. If you feel that you have become stuck in a cycle of self sabotage it may be time to seek the help of a professional – a counsellor or psychologist.

Getting the most out of life means taking control of past demons and laying them to rest. Dealing with the negative emotions such as guilt or resentment can take a huge weight off our shoulders and let you live a life free of unnecessary emotional baggage.

Mandy X