Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are frequently the root of why and how we continue to produce what we do not want: fear, anxiety, scarcity and lack, depression, addiction, PTSD, being overweight and out of shape, and everything else.


Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events, or aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding, that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example:

  • experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect

  • witnessing violence in the home or community

  • having a family member attempt or die by suicide

  • family substance misuse

  • family mental health problems

  • instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison

  • Or anything from which we began to believe we are unloved, imperfect, unworthy, not enough, have lack, must work hard at it, etc.


ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood and can also negatively impact education and job opportunities.

ACEs can have lasting, negative effects on health, well-being, and opportunity. These experiences can increase the risks of injury, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health problems, teen pregnancy, involvement in sex trafficking, and a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and suicide.

ACEs and associated conditions, such as living in under-resourced or racially segregated neighborhoods, frequently moving, and experiencing food insecurity, can cause toxic stress (extended or prolonged stress). Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect such things as attention, decision-making, learning, and response to stress.

Children growing up with toxic stress may have difficulty forming healthy and stable relationships. They may also have unstable work histories as adults and struggle with finances, jobs, and depression throughout life. These effects can also be passed on to their own children. Some children may face further exposure to toxic stress from historical and ongoing traumas due to systemic racism or the impacts of poverty resulting from limited educational and economic opportunities. (CDC)

Fortunately, modern neuroscience has unlocked the door to addressing  ACE memories so that we process them as we were designed to - learning what helps us to make positive future choices, keeping the wisdom while releasing the pain, and living out restored internal beliefs that we are worthy, acceptable, loved, and with abundant resources.