At the beginning of Wrestling Ghosts, Kim admits she never plays with her kids and doesn’t enjoy their company. Most of us see our shortcomings or difficulties as the result of laziness, a lack of discipline, or even poor character. Whether it’s drinking too much, yelling at our kids, staying in a job we hate, or neglecting to take care of ourselves--most of us blame ourselves. Kim does too. She blames herself and feels hopeless about changing things.
We’re here to shatter the belief that we are to blame. Why? Because research has found that the behavior we chalk up to incompetence is actually the unequivocal result of what happened in our childhood. We know that Toxic Stress experienced during childhood actually physically alters a person’s brain and body. Toxic stress affects the expression of genes, hormonal balance, and brain development. We end up with poor physical and mental health, which results in many of the adverse circumstances in our present lives. This makes us unhappy with ourselves and the people around us, including our families.
It’s hard to believe, but concrete proof from the MRI scans of the brains of people who have experienced toxic stress during childhood show that an altered flow of stress hormones do in fact change the brain: The hippocampus (a small section of the brain) is up to 7% smaller and atrophied. This is significant because the hippocampus is associated with the functions of feeling and reaction. Together with the hypothalamus and the amygdala, the hippocampus helps control different bodily functions, such as the endocrine system, as well as our “fight or flight,” or stress response. The damage to our brains leaves us both over and under reacting to outside stimulus. The result of your childhood experiences causes a kind of a neurological straightjacket that all the willpower and self-flagellation in the world simply can’t undo.
These changes to the brain are NOT irrevocable. We will show you how to repair them! But before we can move to healing, we have to understand why the damage happened.