The Hurt Child: When the Past Invades the Present

Have you ever had a strong emotional reaction that felt like a younger you?

A swift, angry response, a tantrum, or an "It's not fair!" Perhaps you have felt small and disempowered, insecure, unsafe, and unsure of yourself and, therefore, put up an armoured front. You may not even realise you are doing it.

This is where we time-flip, and it isn't sci-fi! The younger part of you still exists, and events filed in long-term memory are on a constant replay, the moment when you went into flight or flight, enough to "glitch the system", as it were. So we may no longer be a child, and yet the smallest aspect in our environment can trigger a response from that long-held memory, sometimes so deeply buried we don't recall it at the moment at all. An estimated half to two thirds of young people have been exposed to at least one traumatic event by the time they turn 16.

When something traumatic happens or when a child feels threatened, their brain pays extra attention to that event. It's like the brain takes a snapshot of the moment because it thinks, "This is important; I need to remember this so I can avoid or deal with similar situations in the future." This snapshot includes all the details around the event—what was seen, heard, felt, and even the emotions and thoughts at that time.

Then, instead of storing it in the part of the brain where everyday memories go, the brain tucks it away in long-term memory. This part of the brain keeps memories that are significant or have strong emotions attached to them. The idea is that by remembering these intense experiences, the person can recognise and react to similar threats in the future. However, because these memories are stored with so much emotion, recalling them can feel very intense and sometimes overwhelming, almost like reliving the experience.

When we experience self-sabotage or disconnection as adults, it can sometimes be a response triggered by those deeply stored childhood memories. Our brain has linked certain feelings, situations, or behaviours from the past with danger or discomfort. Even though we might not consciously remember the original event, our subconscious mind remembers the emotional imprint.

So, when something in our current environment resembles or evokes the emotions of the original experience, our brain reacts almost automatically. It's trying to protect us from what it perceives as a threat based on the associations formed in childhood. This protection might manifest as self-sabotage—where we unconsciously derail our success or happiness because part of us feels it's safer to fail—or as disconnection, where we withdraw emotionally from situations or people to avoid potential pain or vulnerability.

This process isn't usually within our conscious awareness, making it challenging to understand why we react in these ways. Recognising these patterns requires reflection and guidance from therapy or other forms of support to uncover and address these deeply rooted memories and reactions. However in the following Case Study I would like to illustrate to you the methodology of TRTP as a the prime resource for recovery.

Case Study:

Imagine a bright and bold nine-year-old, brimming with that special kind of cheekiness that lights up a room, suddenly facing a storm of verbal abuse from a male family friend. This isn't just any adult, but one he admires, a figure of success in the eyes of many. For fifteen harrowing minutes, this child endures name-calling, degradation, and a kind of humiliation that seeks to erase the very essence of who he is. In a moment that feels like an eternity, his world shifts as he's thrust into a state of physical shock, only to be rescued by a protective parent.

As this child navigates his journey into adulthood, he finds that his once unbridled spirit only finds expression in the most private settings, among the few he trusts deeply. Success seems always just out of reach, slipping through his fingers as he retreats into solitude rather than reaching out for help. It's through The Richards Trauma Process (TRTP) that we uncover the deeply embedded truth: he has never again felt safe to be seen, to be truly accepted, to belong. That moment of vulnerability, unable to defend himself, created a loop of fear and anger that played on repeat.

But here's where the story transforms. Through TRTP, we don't just revisit that loop; we dismantle it in a way that's as innovative as it is gentle, a method one client described as akin to a 'brain hack.' Three months post-treatment, this wonderful individual stands in his authentic self—confident, safe, and alive with vibrancy, regardless of his surroundings.

The journey of self-discovery is ongoing, each realisation a significant moment of growth. Alongside, we navigated through a handful of other moments that, though smaller, were no less impactful, addressing them with TRTP to foster a profound change in his life. This is more than healing; it's a rebirth into the fullest expression of oneself.

"I didn't know I could feel this good," says it all.

Understanding how childhood trauma shapes our adult behaviours, especially emotional reactions like self-sabotage or disconnection, is crucial. The transformation story highlighted through The Richards Trauma Process (TRTP) demonstrates that it's possible to address and move past these deeply ingrained patterns. TRTP has helped individuals not just revisit but significantly change the way they respond to past stressful events, enabling them to live as their true selves. Some people don't even realise it was that one "thing" that happened when they were nine that changed the course of their future choices.

If you find yourself facing similar challenges, know that it's never too late to seek change. TRTP is a method that offers a chance for profound personal development. To live without the constraints of the past is true freedom. Book a call with us today and take the first step towards a life where you feel confident and at peace. Let us help you transform your life.


About Sally

As a former international opera singer, Sally Wilson knows a thing or two about being at the top of your field. And she’s discovered first-hand what it feels like to step away from the spotlight and lose your identity.

Through coaching, Sally helps her clients let go of their self-sabotaging beliefs and discover freedom, joy and fulfillment. As an accredited TRTP™ practitioner, Sally uses evidence-based practices to create changes that are quick, safe and lasting.

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