- Do you feel unresolved, pushed around, and burdened?
- Are you carrying and reliving painful memories from the past?
- Do you struggle to look normal when you feel that everything inside of you is chaotic?
Many people identify with these experiences because they share in common the ongoing effects of a troubled upbringing. I call this the 18-year Factor. The 18-Year Factor is a way of referring to the first 18 years of life — the most impressionable years.
Clear voices are making it known that “Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today” (Dr. Robert Block, the former President of the American Academy of Paediatrics).
Our 18-year Factor forms a kind of template for the way we think, how we feel, and how we act—especially in adult relationships. We all benefit from looking more closely at our upbringing —no matter what kind of home we experienced.
Perhaps you ask, “What good will it do to look back?” “If we can’t go back and change it, why bother thinking about it?” “Why get stuck in the past?” “Isn’t it better to forget it and move on?” These questions often serve as deflective clichés for denying the ongoing effects of a painful past. Yes. The only thing you can change about your past is how it affects you in your future. But a better understanding of our history will help us improve the way it affects our future.
A story behind your story
Most people recall positive and negative experiences from their upbringing. If you had an overall healthy 18-year factor, you are part of a rapidly diminishing number of people. But even if you fall in that category, it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from looking more closely at the influences that shaped the way you see yourself and relate to others.
For those who are married or planning to marry, this benefit is especially valid. Marriage is one of the primary contexts where 18-year-factor issues emerge. Differences in upbringings are a familiar source of marital disagreements. We are wise to engage in conversations about these differences before they become a source of conflict. I would argue that these conversations should be a required part of preparation for marriage.
The way we communicate, resolve conflict, process anger, and many other essential parts of life arise from our 18-year Factor, the most impressionable years of our lives.
Exploring the 18-year Factor takes us on a journey back to our childhood home. That journey allows us to look closely at how the people, circumstances, and experiences of the past continue to affect our lives and relationships.
After almost 20 years of speaking on this subject and 35 years of counseling experience, I finally wrote my book, “The 18-Year Factor – How our upbringing affects our lives & relationships.” The 18 Year Factor consists of 13 chapters, each with discussion points. For better application and discussion,
I’ve included many real-life stories in The 18 Year Factor. I hope that you could not get through two pages without wanting to highlight or underline something helpful and insightful (see key lines below).
I wrote the 18-year factor by applying my years of experience in counseling to the latest findings in the field of psychology. I did not, however, write it as an explicitly Christian book. I aim to reach the broadest possible audience and to influence public school teachers, counselors, and social workers who are required to understand the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences). Most states in the USA are also committing themselves to be trauma-informed states regarding adverse childhood experiences.
At the end of my book, I focus on restoring the whole person. This is where I address the spiritual dimension of restoration and explain why I chose Christianity as the most realistic and plausible understanding of spirituality.
Key lines from The 18-Year Factor
- Attachments to a painful past make it difficult to do well in the present.
- Yesterday’s loss doesn’t have to control the way you see your future.
- Don’t let the diagnosis define your destiny.
- Where you’ve been doesn’t have to define who you become.
- Include the past in who you become instead of letting it define who you are.
- Overcoming a problem involves understanding where and how it originated.
- The only thing you can change about the past is how it affects the future.
- What you focus on is what will become your reality.
- The only person you can change is you. Get started!
The 18 Year Factor is Available on AMAZON
Steve Cornell, President of 18 Year Factor (LLC) Box 118, Millersville, Pa. 17551