A considerable amount of people come into our office and have a preconceived idea of what they DO NOT want in therapy. A common thing that clients will say when they come is, “I don’t want dig up my childhood trauma – I want to work on the present and the future.”

A lot of individuals feel there is no point to bring up the past.

They may feel it is not necessary and doesn’t affect their life; not helping with the ‘here and now’.

As a psychologist, I beg to differ. We need to talk about the things that get in the way and we need to remove the ‘root’ of our suffering, that can often unknowingly stem from childhood traumas.

A root canal for mental health is the analogy that instead of repairing and saving a tooth that is decayed or infected, we must remove our roots and clean things up to save ourselves.

This is essential to finally live our life in excellence.

If we don’t do the ‘root canal’ we too will just become more infected, and our struggles will spread and affect more areas of life.

Part of this concept aligns with one of research professor Brené Brown’s chapters in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. If you have not yet heard of Brené Brown or read any of her books, visit Amazon or Chapters to purchase this book. This also relates to closely to what we do at Shift.

Another common mindset that people seem to have is that they want to press the fast-forward button to a time where life will be ‘better’. Often people think that by coming to counselling some sort of magic wand is waved for them to be ‘cured’ in just one session. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and it does take some hard work.

Why would any of us want to relive the childhood trauma that has happened in our lives?

Opening the flood gates and having a roller-coaster of emotions sounds exhausting and painful, especially if there was a way we could pass it all by and feel better. Trust me, I too am still looking for the magic wand to ‘fix’ life’s problems, but there simply isn’t one.

Let’s be honest, there are times in life where we feel like we are in quick sand.

We can be fully aware of our destructive behaviours – like drinking a whole bottle of wine on a Tuesday night, stuffing our faces with anything we see in sight, or by pressing “continue watching” on Netflix up until the wee hours of the night.

We cognitively know this isn’t what we want for our reality, but emotionally we find ourselves going back to the same patterns repeatedly.

Childhood Trauma

Why can’t we break the cycle?

Why can’t we help ourselves do something different when we know what we are doing isn’t helping us?

The more we avoid what is getting in the way the more…

The more we will continue to engage in these similar or more destructive patterns and behaviours. In turn, this causes us to feel like we are sinking into the quicksand at a drastic rate – with feelings of shame, guilt, regret, anxiety and sadness.

Yet at the same time our inner critic keeps telling us we should keep going at this rate, although we wish we could just shout out “MERCY” and give up.

Once we feel that our whole body is underneath the sand and only our head is above the surface, it is a good indication for us that we need to take charge and get to the root of our behaviours, feelings and thoughts.

Meditations, breathing exercises, long walks, etc. can be helpful in the moment, however these techniques are only a ‘band-aid’ to the underlying cause of our behaviours. Therefore, it is crucial to explore what’s getting in the way from a deeper perspective.

Whether the quicksand envelopes us from being overworked, high expectations of ourselves, always needing reassurance, feeling wanted or giving our all to everyone else – it is always draining, exhausting and depleting. This can lead to procrastinating, withdrawing, avoiding or more maladaptive coping behaviours.

And we think to ourselves, this can’t be true happiness… can it? Is this all that life has to offer?

So, let’s remove the root, let’s do the root canal – not only to break these cycles but to no longer have these patterns be the driving force of our existence. It’s time to have more balance, self-care, and fulfillment so we can be living our life in excellence.