The Founding Fathers believed everyone was “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
But, while every citizen in our country may have been “endowed” with these rights at birth, in reality, not everyone has the capacity to fully take advantage of them. Some are prevented from fully enjoying these rights because of the significant impact of their childhood home and upbringing.
Why? The research is clear: facing adversity in one’s childhood home has a profound impact on one’s life.
How Adversity Negatively Wires a Developing Brain
How does this happen? If someone grows up facing adversity in their childhood home, the experience negatively wires a developing brain, encoding a set of negative beliefs — LIES — into their developing brain that they take at face value and assume are true. Then the brain, doing its job, consistently seeks to find evidence of what it believes to be true as they grow into adulthood, whether true or not. So, if not unlearned early on, these beliefs will hold them back from fully taking advantage of the rights and liberties that are deservingly theirs.
If a person grows up in home with Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) and because of it they feel, for instance, that they are GUILTY or “worth less” than other kids, then, as they grow older, their brain finds more evidence to validate these beliefs…and continues to find this evidence into adulthood. If someone believes they are GUILTY – the opposite of FREE – this false belief holds them hostage and keeps them from pursuing their goals, the things they want for themselves and deserve. If they believe they’re “worth less” or WORTHLESS – if they believe they are not worthy of happiness – then how can they pursue it?
Believing one is GUILTY or WORTHLESS are just two of the many LIES that can negatively define a young person’s life and prevent them from fully take advantage of the endowed rights they’re born with and granted by law. A leading researcher who wrote the book “How the Brain Learns” once said the Association’s founder that “one of the greatest weaknesses of our species is that we decide who we believe we are before we have a fully developed brain to actually consciously choose for ourselves.” Legally, human beings reach adulthood at age 18, but neurologically, people aren’t adults until their adult brains or neo-cortex is fully formed. And that isn’t until they’re in their 20s and 30s. So, if a person’s early childhood encodes these beliefs, prior to them even having an adult brain to consciously choose what they should be, how can they be able to fully take advantage of the rights they have been granted by law?
Unlearning the LIES
Being conscious of this can help turn the tide. But the problem is that many people don’t even link the adversity they faced in childhood to the struggles they face in their lives today, even though they are very much connected. Once people begin to connect the dots, they can start to unlearn the LIES and replace them with the TRUTHS that are just below the surface and unleash the gifts earned from that home they may not be tapping into.
The Path Is thought THE ONE
The natural question then becomes, how does one unlearn the LIES? Certainly there are some people who grew up with major adversity in childhood, but despite this, today are fully pursuing life, liberty and happiness?
The research is clear on this. Most frequently, someone – THE ONE – stepped into their lives in a critical way to help them unlearn the LIES and see the TRUTHS that they couldn’t see for themselves.
But THE ONE Doesn’t Always Come
But this doesn’t happen frequently, as evidenced by the dire statistics associated with growing up with adversity in childhood. Frequently, the negative beliefs trigger significant damage to their health, relationships, and emotions, as well as destructive behaviors. Hence they are 6x more likely to commit suicide, 50% more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, and 74% more likely to commit a violent crime. Growing up with CDV is also the single best predictor of being a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence later in life.
So What Can Be Done?
It is critical that we remedy the pervasive lack of awareness of CDV as a major childhood adversity with a defining impact on a life. And there is no place better than this country, which has historically been a beacon for the basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to take the lead in addressing this issue, which is holding back so many from truly enjoying these rights and liberties.
Take the First Step
Perhaps, after taking the time to appreciate the significance of this day, you can ask yourself or someone you care about, “Did you grow up facing adversity in childhood?” You can then share this article and use it as a starting point to help you or someone you care for to start unlearning the LIES learned in your or their childhood home. And in doing so, you can take a meaningful step towards truly pursuing or helping another pursue the rights to liberty and happiness — to live a life that allows you to feel free to reach your full potential and have your thoughts indeed be pleasant and happy most of the time.
To learn more about the impact of Childhood Domestic Violence on your life, and be guides step by step, with unprecedented resources and tools, towards transforming your life or the life of another you care about, start by visiting cdv.org.