What You Learned About PAIN in Childhood Shows Up in Your Body and Relationships as an Adult

What you learned about pain in childhood is likely showing up in your body and relationships as an adult. 

For example: my mom became terrified any time I wanted to explore the edge of a cliff or run into the ocean as a child; I learned that my adventurous nature could be deadly and she would prefer that we avoid anything bad happening. Polarizing her, my dad’s idea of teaching me to swim was literally to throw me into the deep end of our pool when I was 7, yelling “Your options are: learn to swim, or drown!” I immediately became an expert doggie paddler. 

(Before you go thinking my dad was heartless and cruel, I’m actually grateful for this side of him! It taught me to be resourceful, and it created a middle ground where my mom was concerned, because he seemed to have no fear at all of me getting hurt while doing something brave or adventurous). 

My mom got so freaked out when I injured my arm in gymnastics at age 7 (I fell off the balance beam and slightly sprained my arm) that she took me out of the sport and I had to beg her to let me go back at age 10. 

The first lesson (my mom’s reaction to me falling off the beam) was: pain is to be avoided; it’s better to shrink your world and avoid potential pain than to risk injury by engaging in sports. 

The second lesson: I have to really, really want something bad enough to override the installed belief that pain should be avoided. (I think I’m still working this one out believe it or not! For example, the only sports or activities I engage in are ones I can’t imagine living without, and I haven’t allowed myself to pursue new sports or injury prone ones like skiing. I avoid sports that could hurt me if they’re new to me and the risk is higher than sports that are more familiar). 

I hope my examples are helping make sense of this for you! 

Our orientation to pain as adults was first ingrained or “installed” in us like a program when we were little.

Our response to those experiences, the meaning we gave to each powerful experience, shape how we respond to pain now as adults. 

In order to FREE yourself from the patterns that your family, friends or teachers imprinted on you when you were a child, you have to first become aware of them. Then, you have to create your own beliefs about pain. And, give yourself permission to continue evolving those beliefs. 

The video contains more concrete examples and questions I ask to get you in touch with the patterns that were imprinted on you in childhood. I hope you enjoy this one and find it useful! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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  • Ann Danvers says:

    Your videos are so thought provoking and flrefreshing.
    Personally I feel like my emotions are pretty numb most of the time kind of like I’m only half living! I’m sure going back through my life would lead to clues as to why but do you have any tips to kind of wake up my counciousness?
    Looking back to childhood I don’t really have a lot of memories could this be because I have subconsciously locked them away? I didn’t have a bad childhood but struggle to remember much really.
    I just watched your other video about things leading us to listening more to our bodies for example after you suffered with mercury toxicity. I’ve had a mouth full of amalgams for the best part of 40 years so believe I’m likely pretty toxic myself. Could this be why I feel so numb?

  • You bring up a very interesting aspect which I have pondered upon many times. My Father suffered a broken back at the young age of 28 and carried complications from his injury all his life, not only directly from his back pain, but additional issues in nerve pain affecting mostly in his left leg.
    My Mother suffered an injury from a vehicle accident which appeared to affect her back as well, placing her on crutches for 10 years until my Sister started working for a Chiropractor that took x-rays with Mom standing so he could see what her body did with weight bearing on her hips, the main cause of her pain. He determined that her hip was out of place and had worn an additional “socket” to ride in which caused her pain, so he did manipulation to place her hip back into the proper socket and gave her exercises to strengthen the muscles that held her hip in that socket, eventually removing her need for crutches. All she really needed to do to maintain proper placement following the painful manipulations was mainly to walk often.
    Each of my parents handled their pain differently; my Father basically hid his pain as much as possible, where my Mother was a little more vocal, yet pain was taught more as something to endure.
    How this affected me personally, was to learn to endure pain to the extent that I actually worked for an additional week doing full duties as a construction laborer with a broken back.
    Additionally, I was misdiagnosed by doctors as having advanced arthritis instead of a broken back and was given incredibly painful physical therapy exercises on weight machines to strengthen my back muscles, despite my protests the exercises hurt, which caused substantial increase to my injury once I received proper diagnosis through a second opinion over six months later.
    During the six week period of this massively painful physical therapy, I instinctively swam and practiced walking in the available swimming pool to relax the muscles, plus received additional massage from a masseuse friend, which I believe allowed me to endure that extremely painful time of my life.
    Aside from the physical pain was the emotional pain of being shunned by my coworkers (which I had known for many years) and especially doctors, friends and family.
    On top of my injury I was going through divorce so I became a hermit and extremely bitter, pushing away even the people who came forward to offer love and support during my most difficult of life trials.
    Before getting the second opinion I contemplated suicide for a few weeks having lost my career, health and wife of 25 years all in a period of a month.
    There were gifts which came of the situation however, one came of my secondary hobby career of airbrush illustration, winning a local poster contest, my art piece sold at auction for the first time and this lead to a t-shirt/ hoodie design promoting the local Nutcracker Ballet.
    It brought me a new relationship for 10 weeks which helped heal me inside and restore my confidence as a person, plus I received the most interesting anomalies, including a fairy ring of mushrooms in the shape of a 12 foot question mark (I have a photo to prove it) which kept me going during this arduous time.
    Thinking of how pain reacts in my mind and body has been a 20 year search, as well as restoring body functions from vitamin / mineral depletion from the pain medications too.
    Life is a daily experience, yet learning that we can control our memories of the past and how they apply to the present by how we label them in our minds, has helped sort life tremendously, eventually changing my bitterness as well as many beliefs in life into assets.
    I may have physical limitations yet I can still accomplish things healthy people cannot do through willpower and have influenced how many people see their disabilities.

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