11 Signs You Might Be Repressing Negative Childhood Memories

Ad failed to load

If something traumatic happened to you as a kid — like some form of abuse — it's possible your brain may have repressed the negative memories, leading to all sorts of issues as an adult. You might experience anxiety, have a fear of abandonment, or feel really strange in certain situations. It can be frustrating, especially if you don't know why you're feeling this way.  

That's why it's good to know the signs you might be repressing negative childhood memories, mostly so you can get yourself to a therapist ASAP. "These unresolved memories can stifle [your] growth and development [and lead] to a 'stunted' adulthood in terms of self-esteem and personal identity," says licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist Bruce W. Cameron, in an email to Bustle. "It is very important to go to therapy to unlock the memories and likely trauma."

It is important to know, however, that many of the symptoms below are signs of other things. You can, for example, have abandonment issues without having suffered something traumatizing as a kid. With that in mind, read on for some signs you might be repressing memories, and see if any of them seem like a fit.

Ad failed to load

1. You Have Strong Reactions To Certain People

If you have a repressed childhood memory, you may find yourself feeling "triggered" or having strong emotional reactions to people who remind you of previous negative experiences, therapist Jordan Johnson, LMFT, of Wasatch Family Therapy tells me. "It's the body's 'alarm system' or way of warning [you] that this type of person is not safe." While it's obviously good to be wary of strangers and whatnot, this response can get out of control. That's when a therapist can be a big help.  

Ad failed to load

2. Specific Places Or Situations Freak You Out

In the same vein, you might notice that random situations or places totally freak you out. "When someone experiences a negative or traumatic event in childhood, their brain records the specific sensations (sights, sounds, smells etc.) and brings that negative experience to memory when similar stimuli is encountered in the future," Johnson says. When that's the case, you may catch yourself in fight-or-flight mode and not know why.

Ad failed to load

3. It's Difficult For You To Control Your Emotions  

Do you get super mad, or super anxious? "People who have unaddressed negative or traumatic events from childhood often struggle with mood regulation and managing strong emotions," Johnson says. If this tendency to overreact sounds familiar, it may be an issue worth looking into.

Ad failed to load

4. Keeping A Job Has Always Been Difficult

If your childhood trauma was particularly severe, you might notice an ongoing problem maintaining healthy relationships as an adult. It might impact your connection with family and friends, but can also show up at work. Since bosses tend to be a little less understanding than family, it might explain why you've always had a problem keeping a job.  

Ad failed to load

5. You've Always Struggled With Fears Of Abandonment

Fear of abandonment can be a symptom childhood development disruptions, marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar, LMFT, LPCC tells me. "[My] clients will have a strong emotional reaction to someone leaving and feel emotionally dysregulated that is disproportionate to the event itself." It's not a fun feeling, so definitely talk with a therapist if this is something you struggle with.

Ad failed to load

6. Friends Often Say You're "Acting Like A Child"

If you act a little immature when truly upset, that's totally understandable. But take note if it happens all the time, especially if tons of people call you out of on it. "Many times what occurs is the individual 'recapitulates' the child experience by regressing into child like behaviors," Bahar says. "Some may regress into a child-like voice or demeanor that is unconscious."

Ad failed to load

7. You Have A Tendency To Self-Sabotage

Whenever anything good happens, do you almost always sabotage yourself? This is a trait common in people who have experienced trauma, psychologist Mark Derian tells me. "Dysregulated emotion is fertile soil for shame to grow," he says. It may explain why you've always gotten in your own way at work and in your relationships.

Ad failed to load

8. Friends Have Called You "Impulsive" On More Than One Occassion

If you're suppressing negative childhood emotions, you may find yourself turning to compulsions, addictions, and/or impulsiveness as a way to deal with the pain. "Anything to distract [yourself] from latent emotions," Derian says.

Ad failed to load

9. You Often Feel Emotionally Exhausted

If most of your mental energy goes to suppressing your past, it makes sense why you might feel emotionally exhausted. As Cameron tells me, it may even cause you to be stifled in your relationships. And that's definitely something you want to prevent.  

Ad failed to load

10. You Always Feel Anxious

If something traumatic happened in your past, Cameron tells me it can definitely lead to anxiety as an adult. Keep in mind, however, that anxiety has roots in all sorts of things. Just because you feel anxious doesn't necessarily mean you experienced trauma as a child.

Ad failed to load

11. You Seem To Have Issues With Anger Management

It's never fun to feel irrationally angry, much less regular old angry. So definitely speak with a therapist if you consistently struggle with controlling your anger. As Cameron tells me, it may be a sign of repressed memories and trauma.

Ad failed to load

Do any of these signs and symptoms sound familiar? Then definitely make an appointment to talk with a therapist. While the things on this list may point to something else, like an anxiety disorder or depression, they may also be a sign of a repressed childhood trauma. And that's an issue definitely worth working on.  

Images: Pexels (12)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Bustle's Editors On K-Beauty + McDonald's

If you're a glass-half-full kind of person, you're probably rejoicing over the fact that the week's more than halfway over. And if not, keep your chin up. I've got some insane Fashion Week and McDonald's news to hold you over. So, without further ado…
By Melissa Mills

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper