Adverse Childhood Experiences are experiences that expose a child to some form of trauma that can later impact their health and well-being.
ACEs can have a lasting impact on what a person believes about themselves.
If you had a parent that was depressed and couldn't regulate her own emotions, the child may end up believing that the only way to receive love is to cater to her mother's emotions.
The child grows up believing that her emotions do not matter, therefore she shuts down her feelings, wants, and needs and does what she can to keep her mother happy - her core belief?
I'm not worthy of love unless the other person is happy.
Adverse Childhood Experiences answer questions such as:
Did you lose a parent through divorce, abandonment, death, or any other reason?
Did you live with anyone who was depressed, mentally ill, or attempted suicide?
Did you live with anyone who had a problem with drinking or using drugs, including prescription drugs?
Did a parent or adult in your home ever swear at you, insult you, or put you down?
Did you feel that no one in your family loved you or thought you were special?
1 in 6 adults indicates that they have experienced four or more ACEs.
What researchers are discovering is that women and other racial/ethnic minorities are more likely to experience 4 or more ACEs.
ACE research shows that with any "Yes" discovered, a person's risk of developing various conditions increases. These conditions include but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, or Hashimoto's, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heart disease, overweight and obesity.
And with each increasing score on the ACE questionnaire, the risk of a woman being hospitalized by an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's, Lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, rose by 20%.
That means that a woman with an ACE score of 4, would have an 80% greater chance of being hospitalized due to an autoimmune condition.
What's more, research is coming out showing that higher ACE scores correlate with greater symptom severity in patients struggling with IBS.
Now that you know that your experiences in childhood may influence your future health, what can you do?
1. The first recommendation would be to understand your ACE score. Use this link to take your ACE questionnaire.
2. It's always recommended to work with a licensed therapist to help you understand how your past experiences are influencing your present-day patterns. You will learn valuable skills that help you break old behavior patterns.
3. Practice self-compassion. This can be easier said than done but you can start with something small. Perhaps, you bombed a presentation you were supposed to give and would normally beat yourself up by belittling yourself. Instead, you can take this opportunity to talk to yourself as you would a friend - "Hey, its ok, it didn't go as expected but now you know what didn't work and you can learn from it and do better next time!"