Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How to Create a Beautiful Adulthood for Yourself

This is both the end goal and culmination of relational trauma recovery work.

Key points

  • Successful recovery from childhood trauma is possible, while it is subjective in nature.
  • Part of this recovery work entails acknowledging the psychological and physiological trauma impacts that may still be playing out in one's life.
  • Another key aspect of recovery involves matching your "insides" to your "outsides."
Yakov Knyazev/Stocksy
Source: Yakov Knyazev/Stocksy

Building a beautiful adulthood is both the end goal and culmination of relational trauma recovery work, but it doesn’t begin when the “healing work” is done.

It literally happens as we’re doing the healing work to face and grieve the past, throughout our attempts to develop the skills to meet any developmental gaps we missed, and integrally connected to our attempts to seek out and be influenced by reparative relational experiences, and so forth.

Building a beautiful adulthood is not the last step; it’s woven into every step along the way.

Building a beautiful adulthood for yourself is the second chance you give yourself after a less-than-ideal and powerless childhood. But what does it mean to give yourself the best adulthood possible? In my personal and professional experience, this means, as much as possible, matching your insides to the outside world.

Giving yourself a beautiful adulthood also means, in my personal and professional experience, not only identifying what you hunger for on the inside but also working through psychological and physiological trauma impacts that may—consciously or unconsciously—still be ruling you and leading to a disconnect between what you hunger for on the inside and what exists on the outside.

Such trauma impacts may include maladaptive beliefs and behaviors (addictions, compulsions, chronic self- and other-criticism), a dysregulated nervous system (hyper- or hypo-aroused), attachment wounds (disorganized, anxious, or avoidant attachment patterning), and so much more.

So as you move through relational trauma recovery work, the task is to help better understand what you long for and hunger for and also to help you cultivate more choice and develop more agency so that you can be responsive rather than reactive in your life.

For example, this might look like:

  • Helping a woman who experienced poverty in her childhood recognize that she’s logistically and financially safe now and helping her nervous system understand that she doesn’t have to work 80-plus-hour workweeks to feel safe at the cost of driving her autoimmune system into the ground. Helping her see that she has a choice and that the past is past now.
  • Helping a young man who grew up in a family and church community that decries homosexuality to feel psychologically and logistically empowered enough to own his own sexuality and to actively seek out a community that can validate and honor who he truly is. Helping him understand, assert, and live out who he truly is despite the introjects he may have absorbed.
  • Helping a young person understand that, unlike what their family modeled for them, healthy, functional relationships are possible and helping them develop more rooted-in-reality beliefs about dating, conflict resolution, and intimacy. Helping re-educate and re-learn foundational relationship principles.

And these are just four of four thousand examples I could list about what it might look like to match your insides to your outsides to give yourself a beautiful adulthood so that you can be responsive versus reactive in life. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that being able to design a life that matches on the outside what you feel on the inside is a huge privilege that not everyone has. I’m specifically thinking about those who still live inside family, social, or cultural systems that deny the full spectrum of their humanity and who may still be financially, logistically, or even physically dependent on these people and communities for survival.

If you find yourself in a family, community, or culture in which your survival still hinges on fitting in with that system, know that I see you and understand that the prompts I list below may not feel fully possible for you to consider—yet.

Prompts to consider as you work to create a beautiful adulthood for yourself:

  • Do you feel like you have a life that, on the outside, mostly matches your insides?
  • If not, in what ways is that disconnect still showing up?
    • Where (home, community, place): In what ways might there possibly be disconnects?
    • What (career, hobbies, life endeavors): Is there any aspect that feels incongruous here?
    • Who (relationships with ourselves and others): Is there any way with anyone (including yourself) you can feel the impacts of your past possibly getting in your way?
    • How (money, time): What stories, introjects, or maladaptive beliefs might you still be holding onto that don’t match what you would like to see in this area?
  • How, if at all, are you possibly recreating your past in your present?
  • Where do you feel like you don’t have a choice?

I hope these prompts feel helpful to you. Sit with them, but know that there are dozens of other questions to consider as you do this work.

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

More from Annie Wright LMFT
More from Psychology Today
More from Annie Wright LMFT
More from Psychology Today