Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults

Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults

We need to dive deep into the Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults that you may not have even recognized as childhood trauma. You probably have things you do or ways you treat yourself and react to others that you have decided are part of your personality.

That is where I am hoping to show you some signs of childhood trauma that should show you the truth of why you are the way you are. The “bad” traits that you have and the ways you view yourself, have nothing to do with your true soul identity.

Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults

Not only that, but they are actually trauma responses that have been with you for the majority of your life. Now, I want to go even deeper and tell you that the parts of yourself that you hate are also not part of your personality.

It took the majority of my life before I understood the signs of childhood trauma for myself. I just thought that my personality was explosive, “in your face,” and I pretended that I didn’t care what others thought about me.

Throughout my teen years and almost all of my twenties, I was replaying my childhood trauma in every aspect of my life. I struggled with friendships, romantic relationships, family relationships, work, and self-image.

If you were to ask somebody who knew me in my teen years or my twenties, they would describe as a person who nobody would want to be around. Hell, I didn’t even want to be around myself.

Excuse my language, but they would tell you that I was a bitch and don’t ever make me mad. I was difficult to be around.

One minute I would be laughing and appearing to have fun. The next, I would be angry and completely losing it by going off on somebody.

You are NOT Your Trauma

If you had told me that I had any of the signs of childhood trauma in adults, I would’ve looked at you like you were crazy. Again, I just thought that was my personality.

As a psychotherapist, I am often discussing the signs of childhood trauma in adults with my patients. Typically, it will take several sessions before they are at a place to be able to acknowledge their signs of childhood trauma in adults.

The reason for that is that usually they think whatever brought them to therapy is because of something currently going on in their lives that is causing mental health issues. Please listen to me when I say that it is incredibly rare that whatever is going on in your life is just situational.

What is probably going on is that you have pushed down so much childhood trauma that you haven’t acknowledged or even knew to recognize as trauma. So, it has blown up with one or a few “situations.”

That’s what happened to me. I went through one friendship or relationship after another. They almost all ended badly. I would get hurt because things happened that mimicked my childhood trauma.

When we don’t know the signs of childhood trauma in adults, we just continue playing out that trauma. Also, we respond in ways that appear very unhealthy, but the truth is that we are just trying to protect ourselves or to get the love we needed as a child. If that is triggering something in you, read my post 5 Signs You Were Lacking Love As A Child.

Childhood Trauma Quiz
Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults 6

Healing to Identify Your True Soul Identity

For many years, I have said that if we knew what others have been through, it would be hard to hate them. We typically don’t show what we have been through to others because it’s hard to be vulnerable. Also, because we don’t recognize the signs of childhood trauma in adults.

Instead, we show the effects of childhood trauma. That plays out in destructive ways until we can recognize where our behaviors are coming from and allow ourselves to return to our true soul identities.

It’s okay if you don’t know who you truly are and have identified yourself based on how you respond to life. Most people die without knowing who they truly are and that’s sad. If you don’t want to be one of those people, read my post 2 Answers, “Who Am I.”

Now, as I mentioned, most people don’t recognize their childhood trauma as childhood trauma. So, I created a Childhood Trauma Quiz for you to be able to recognize the Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults. My hope is that you are able to see that your childhood trauma and the results of it are not your personality and never were.

Childhood Trauma Quiz to Recognize the Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults:

  1. When you were a child did people say you were “growing up too fast?
  2. Have you always been ultra independent and feel like you don’t need anybody for anything?
  3. Do you blame yourself when you’re not at fault or did nothing wrong?
  4. Do you get so angry that you cry, but you don’t know why you’re crying because you’re angry and not sad?
  5. Are you always worrying about the needs of others before your own?

If you answered yes to two or more of the Childhood Trauma Quiz, you probably had emotional and/or physical childhood trauma. If that is the case, I recommend you read my post 5 Steps for Finding a Good Therapist to help you identify and process your childhood trauma.

Now, let’s look at each of these questions in the Childhood Trauma Quiz so that you can have some awareness. If you did answer “yes” to two or more, I want you to be able to recognize these signs because it is affecting your life and probably on a daily basis.

Growing Up Too Fast

hyper independence trauma
Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults 7

Growing up too fast is one of the biggest indicators that a child is enduring trauma. There are many different ways this can happen.

A child should never have to grow up quickly. Children deserve to experience their entire childhood as an innocent child. Unfortunately, many children don’t get what they deserve in that regard.

I was one of those children. The first time we had to leave our home due to violence, I was only eight years old. I can still hear the screaming and furniture being destroyed. That night resulted in my growing up too fast and only progressed throughout the rest of my childhood.

If people said you were “growing up too fast” when you were a child, that means that you probably experienced things a child shouldn’t have had to experience. Like me, that unhealed trauma will follow you throughout your life as Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults. You don’t just grow out of it if you never work to heal.

Hyper Independence Trauma

The topic of growing up too fast leads right to the next question in the Childhood Trauma Quiz. If you answered “yes” to always being ultra independent and feeling like you don’t need anybody for anything, you are displaying hyper-independence trauma.

Children are supposed to be dependent upon adults for most things. Yes, we want children to learn how to be independent, but not to the point of it resulting in hyper independence-trauma.

So, what is hyper-independence trauma? It comes from a childhood in which our emotional and/or physical needs weren’t met.

Hyper-independence trauma is the response you have from being forced to meet your own needs as a child. You learned that you don’t need anybody for anything because you had to meet your own needs that should’ve been met by your parents or caregivers.

For many children who experience hyper-independence trauma, there are probably times where they ask for help and are berated or humiliated for asking for the help that they truly need. Those children grow up thinking it’s wrong to need help from others.

Rejecting Help When You Need It

Often, they will get to the point that even when help is offered, they’ll reject it because their brains got wired to believe that they shouldn’t need help from others. Then, those children grow into adults who carry that hyper-independence trauma with them.

That is one of the signs that causes difficulties in every aspect of life. It leads to exhaustion, depression, and anxiety because they never ask for or allow others to help them.

Those adults spend so much time and energy doing everything for themselves, even when help is offered and is what they need. For me, that led to major struggles in my professional and personal life for many years.

If you relate to what I’m explaining about hyper-independence trauma, I want you to understand that it is okay to allow others to help you. It shows strength to ask for help when you need it. Not only that, but if hyper-independence trauma is left unhealed, it leads to a very lonely life. I knew all too well for many years.

growing up too fast
Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults 8
Blaming Yourself When You Did Nothing Wrong

The third question in the Childhood Trauma Quiz is a trauma response that is pervasive amongst many of my psychotherapy patients. Many times, they will tell me that they are responsible for what somebody did to them when that is far from the truth. They are blaming themselves

The reason that is one of the signs is that as a child, they were blamed for things they didn’t do or that weren’t their fault. When that happens to children, they learn that blaming yourself is normal.

That results in them apologizing when somebody is not happy with them for a reason that has nothing to do with them and even when somebody else wronged THEM. Again, blaming yourself when you did nothing wrong is a huge sign of childhood trauma.

When I was in elementary school, I had a friend who did this numerous times whenever we played. She had a lot of childhood trauma, but of course I didn’t understand that or even know what it was when we were children. So many times I wanted to ask her, “Why are you blaming yourself when you did nothing wrong?”

There were several times that she would get a nosebleed when she was spending the night at my house. It was not her fault that she had nosebleeds. Yet, every single time, she would apologize profusely because she was a victim of the “blaming yourself” for everything. I remember being confused as to why she was apologizing for something that wasn’t her fault.

Apologizing Profusely is a Trauma Response

As an adult and a therapist, I can now see it was a trauma response for her. I think that is the case for all of my patients who also are victims of blaming yourself for everything, even when they’ve done nothing wrong.

Moving on to the fourth sign. Think about all of the times that you have cried because you believed you were angry? I’m not going to go into detail much on this one because I have an entire post about it.

I just want you to understand how that is usually a sign of childhood trauma. You had feelings of sadness that were repressed for so long. Also, you weren’t allowed to cry. So, anger was more acceptable and probably what you saw from your parents/caregivers.

If you are recognizing this as one of your Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults, please know that you are far from alone. Reading this post should give you more insight and guidance into healing from repressed sadness that has turned into anger.

Do Unto Others as You Do Unto Yourself

The last of the Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults is always putting the needs of others before your own. This is incredibly pervasive in our society and my hope is for that to begin shifting for so many reasons, but mainly because your needs matter.

Also, if you are not taking care of your own needs, you aren’t truly able to give what others need. Taking care of yourself first leaves you with more energy and space for others. That’s not a new concept. It’s just one that’s hardly followed.

I know you’ve heard that Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Like many things that society taught us, I vehemently disagree with this.

If I were able to pull the Golden Rule out of everybody’s mind, I would change it to this. “Do unto others as you do unto yourself.” Think about that for a minute though.

In order for that to work, you would have to treat yourself well first. For now, just think about it this way when your negative self-talk pops up.

If you were acting from your true soul identity, would you say or treat others in the same way your negative self-talk causes you to treat yourself? Absolutely, not! That’s not who you are.

Imagine yourself saying those Not Good Enough Stuff things to someone you love. That hurts to think about. My goal for you is to have that same hurt when you do it to yourself to allow yourself to see that you don’t deserve it.

Blaming Yourself
Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults 9
Putting Others’ Needs First

Now, back from my little tangent. Why is worrying about the needs of others before your own one of the Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults?

Well, your parents or caregivers sadly required you to take care of their emotional needs because they didn’t know how to do it for themselves. What you learn as a child is what you continue as an adult.

Think about the ways you put your needs last and probably never even get around to meeting your own needs. The result is ALWAYS exhaustion, loneliness, depression and/or anxiety.

Changing that is hard but can bring you deep healing if you’re willing to do it. I promise you are worth it and deserve it.

I really hope these signs help you to recognize and name your “negative traits” as childhood trauma. They should give you some insight into acknowledging that your behaviors and the ways you view yourself just might not be a part of your personality. Remember, they are trauma responses from childhood, and they can be changed and healed if you do the work.

If you recognize these signs in friends or family members, I encourage you to send this post to them if it is helpful to you. Also, if you choose to do this work, allow others to know you are working to heal this. Let them know how you will be showing up differently.

Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about this post or if you relate to it. Leave a comment below. It could help somebody else in the Not Good Enough Stuff Community by you showing vulnerability.


This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.

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