Growing up, we all had our fair share of bumps and scrapes.But for some, those ‘bumps’ were a lot deeper than a skinned knee.People who experienced unhappy childhoods often carry certain behaviors into adulthood.These aren’t just habits, they’re deeply ingrained patterns that can affect every aspect of their lives.From my experience and observation, these behaviors are almost universal among those with troubled pasts.They’re not always easy to spot, but once you know what to look for, you’ll see them everywhere.

In this article, Can-Am has outlined nine behaviors that people with unhappy childhoods almost always carry into adulthood:

1) Difficulty in forming relationships

One of the most common behaviors that those with unhappy childhoods carry into adulthood is a struggle with forming relationships.It’s not that they don’t want friends or partners.It’s just that they never learned how to build healthy relationships in their early years.Children who grow up in troubled homes often have to fend for themselves emotionally.They may have had to become self-reliant at a young age, which can make it challenging to let others in later in life.As adults, they may find it hard to trust people, and the fear of getting hurt can prevent them from forming deep connections.Recognizing this behavior is the first step towards healing.It’s about understanding that it’s okay to let people in, and that not everyone will cause harm.Dealing with these behaviors is a journey, not a destination.Healing takes time and patience, but it’s definitely possible.

2) Overthinking

Another behavior that often stems from an unhappy childhood is overthinking.I can personally attest to this one.Growing up, I was constantly on edge, always trying to predict what could go wrong next.It was my way of trying to stay one step ahead, to protect myself from any possible harm.This habit didn’t just disappear when I became an adult.In fact, it seemed to grow stronger, branching out into all areas of my life.I found myself over-analyzing every decision, every conversation, every look from a stranger.I realized this behavior was a result of my troubled past when I started therapy.Therapy helped me understand that my overthinking was a defense mechanism, a way to feel in control in an unpredictable world.Recognizing this has helped me work towards breaking this cycle of overthinking.It’s a work in progress, but each day I’m learning to live more in the moment and less in my head.

3) Fear of authority

This fear is rooted in past experiences with adults who were supposed to be trustworthy but instead caused harm.Children who experienced abuse or neglect were more likely to display fear and avoidance towards authority figures in adulthood.This fear can manifest in different ways, such as anxiety in the workplace or difficulty trusting people in positions of power.Overcoming this fear often involves understanding its origin and working through past traumas with a trusted therapist or counselor.It’s a challenging journey, but one that can lead to a healthier relationship with authority.

4) High levels of empathy

This might seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense.Growing up in a troubled environment often means having to read the room and understand others’ emotions for survival.Over time, this heightened awareness can develop into a deep sense of empathy for others.While this can be a powerful strength, it can also be exhausting.It’s important for empathetic individuals to set boundaries and take care of their own emotional health. 

5) Difficulty in expressing emotions

Often, those who had unhappy childhoods find it challenging to express their emotions.This is usually because they were punished or ridiculed for showing feelings in their early years.In an attempt to protect themselves, they may have learned to suppress their emotions.This coping mechanism can carry over into adulthood, leading to a tendency to bottle up feelings and avoid emotional confrontation.  However, suppressing emotions is not healthy in the long run and can lead to serious mental health issues.Seeking help from a mental health professional can be beneficial in learning how to express emotions in a safe and healthy way.

6) Need for control

Growing up in an unpredictable environment can leave a lasting impact.For many who had an unhappy childhood, this often translates into a deep-seated need for control.I’ve seen this time and again, both in others and in myself.There’s this desperate desire to control everything, to ensure that nothing ever catches you off guard again.But life is unpredictable, and that’s okay.It took me a long time to learn that not everything is within my control, and that’s not a bad thing.Allowing ourselves to let go of the need for control can be incredibly freeing.It’s a long journey filled with ups and downs, but every step towards letting go is a step towards healing.It’s okay to ask for help along the way.You’re not alone in this journey.

7) Perfectionism

Perfectionism is more than just wanting to do well.It’s a need to be flawless, a belief that anything less than perfect is unacceptable.It’s a behavior that I know all too well.Trying to create a picture-perfect life was my way of compensating for the chaos of my childhood.If I could just be perfect, then nothing could go wrong.But no matter how hard I tried, I could never reach this unrealistic standard I had set for myself.It took a lot of self-reflection and therapy to realize that perfectionism wasnot a solution, but a problem. It was not only unattainable but also exhausting.I’m still learning to let go of my need for perfection and embrace the beauty of imperfection. 

8) Self-isolation

Self-isolation can be a defense mechanism, a way of protecting oneself from potential harm.In their minds, withdrawing from others can feel safer than risking emotional hurt.They might keep people at arm’s length, fearing that getting too close will result in pain or rejection.However, isolating oneself can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.It’s crucial to remember that it’s okay to let people in, and it’s okay to ask for help.You’re not alone, and there are people who want to support you on your healing journey.

9) Resilience

Despite all the struggles and challenges, one of the most remarkable behaviors that people with unhappy childhoods exhibit is resilience.They’ve faced adversity and pain from a young age, yet they’ve continued to push forward.Resilience is not just about bouncing back, but about growing and thriving in spite of the odds.It’s about transforming pain into strength, turning hardship into motivation.This resilience is a testament to their strength and determination.It’s a beacon of hope that no matter where you come from, you have the power to create a better future for yourself.


These types of childhood issues are quite common. You may experience some or all of what has been discussed here today. Can-Am Interventions welcomes you to speak with us about any issues you may have regarding mental health, addiction and physical health. We have a vast experience working with individuals and their families to educate and bring understanding to these situations and to overcome these debilitatinglifestyles through treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with these behaviours, please call us today. We look forward to helping you.

For More Information:

E: patti.pike@canaminterventions.com

W: www.canaminterventions.com

1-800-638-1812 Toll Free Internationally

415-827-3725 Cell /Text

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