How Hidden Trauma Sets the Stage for Failure

A young girl hides her face in shame.

The weight of childhood shame has the potential to undermine all future efforts to achieve success.

Identifying patterns of self-sabotage can only happen when we take the time to NOTICE those patterns.

A horrible event experienced when I was a child drilled the belief into my bones of being unworthy and ashamed for my efforts to start my own business.

I had an exciting idea around the age of 9 or 10. I noticed how beautiful the fall foliage was when dried. Thistles, grasses, wheat, and other plants begged to become beautiful fall bouquets. Surely, they would sell like hotcakes!

I spent several hours in the hot sun looking for the best plants I could find. I cut them and arranged them into what I thought were lovely arrangements. Then I went door-to-door to ask the people if they would like to buy a beautiful fall bouquet for their table. To the people, I was just a cute kid with a handful of weeds. To me, I was a brilliant entrepreneur with a much-desired decorative element for any house on the block. Who could resist? They’d ask, “How much?” (I hadn’t thought of how much!) “How much do you think they are worth?” 

Some gave me 5 cents, some a quarter, some a dollar. I was so excited! (this would have been in the late 1960’s) I ran home after selling the last one and dumped my change on the table in front of my Mother.

I knew she’d be proud of me because I was doing something useful and brought money home. She looked at me confused and said, “Where did you get all this money?” I told her proudly what I had done and expecting high praise from her, was shocked when she bolted up from the table and stood over me.

She shouted “HOW DARE YOU!” “How dare you SHAME THIS FAMILY BY BEGGING!!” She was livid. I was … in … deep shock. My heart dropped to the floor and I could hardly breathe.

“You go give this money back! Right now!” “You apologize for what you did and ask them to forgive you!”

I felt like an elephant of shame just sat down on my shoulders. I still have some of that sitting there. The shadow of that elephant of shame is heavier than one would think!
I scooped up the money in my small hands and walked out the door.

My feet were heavy and i could hardly move. I was so embarrassed and ashamed and I didn’t know why. It was all so confusing. I went to the first house and weakly knocked on the door. No one came. I put some coins on the window sill. I didn’t know how much they had given me. I went to the next house.

The weight of my guilt and shame was so heavy I could hard walk and my eyes were starting to burn with tears. I gave up.

I poured all of my hard-earned money on the porch of the second house and ran back home. I dove into bed and cried myself to sleep that day.

Little did I know that this one event would setup several belief systems that would completely block my efforts in achieving goals, or doing anything creative that might improve my life.

it wasn’t until I started noticing how I was working very hard and doing “all” that I was learning I needed to do to build a business but getting nowhere. As I sat in frustration, I started looking back at my life objectively now that I had separated myself from toxic situations and people. (All a part of programming that comes from abuse that is associated with normal behaviors in most families.)

Since I have worked a great deal with entrepreneurs, speakers, writers, and ministers, I’ve enjoyed a bird’s eye view of common belief systems that are found in people who are very courageous and determined to make a difference in the world.

A sad little girl clutches her teddy bear close.


  1.  Giving away work for free.
  2. Feeling guilty for charging what your work is worth.
  3. Feeling like an imposter and certain you’ll be ‘found out’.
  4. Being afraid to “push the envelope”, take action, or make decisions for fear of punishment or judgments by others.
  5. Fear of thinking outside the box or going against what is familiar.
  6. Feeling that you have to justify every thought you’ve ever had.
  7. Having a compulsion to tell your “victim story” to excuse details you might have missed. It goes like this:
    “I’ve just been so busy”
    “I’m overwhelmed and have so many things to do.”
    “I’ve been sick” (when you haven’t)
    “I never got your email.” (when you did, but forgot it)
  8. Constantly apologizing for things you didn’t do. Saying “I’m sorry has become a reflex as common as breathing!”
  9. Feeling that everything that goes wrong is your fault.
  10. Procrastinating by putting off important work just so that you know there’s still work to do, (which might be a fear of never getting work again.)
  11. Paralysis of moving forward and not knowing what is causing this.
  12. Over-explaining what and why you do things to prevent misunderstandings or false accusations.
  13. Taking things personally.
  14. Not feeling good enough or important enough to do what you desire to do.
  15. Being afraid of confrontation and not speaking up for yourself.

How to reverse the behaviors associated with childhood trauma

To reverse the behaviors associated with childhood trauma and the resulting belief systems, here are some solutions:

  1. Recognize and Acknowledge: Acknowledge the impact of past trauma and the belief systems it has created in your life.

  2. Seek Professional Help: Consider working with a therapist or counselor who specializes in trauma to help you process and heal from past experiences.

  3. Set Boundaries: Learn to set boundaries with others to protect your well-being and prevent further harm.

  4. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind and gentle with yourself as you navigate through healing and growth.

  5. Challenge Negative Beliefs: Challenge and reframe negative self-beliefs that stem from childhood trauma.

  6. Develop Self-Awareness: Cultivate self-awareness to recognize triggers and patterns of behavior linked to past trauma.

  7. Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with supportive and understanding individuals who can provide encouragement and guidance.

  8. Practice Mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness practices to stay present and grounded in the moment.

  9. Focus on Personal Growth: Invest time and effort in personal development activities that promote self-confidence and empowerment.

  10. Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate small victories along the way to building a healthier mindset.

By implementing these strategies consistently, you can begin to reverse the negative behaviors and belief systems rooted in childhood trauma, paving the way for personal growth and a more fulfilling life.

partial view of a woman holding the hands of another woman in support.

I have walked the path of healing from childhood trauma and offer invaluable support and guidance to individuals seeking to break free from the grip of past experiences.

Drawing from personal experience and professional expertise, I can provide empathetic understanding, practical tools, and tailored strategies to empower you in overcoming limiting beliefs, fostering self-compassion, setting healthy boundaries, and helping you chart a path toward personal growth and fulfillment.

With a unique perspective shaped by my journey of resilience and transformation, I can give you encouragement, hope, and inspiration, to guide you on your own journey of healing and self-discovery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.