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  • Writer's pictureGary Katz

Unresolved Trauma Changes How You See Yourself

Trauma Shapes Us!

Unresolved trauma often leaves individuals feeling a profound sense of shame, guilt, or self-blame. This negative self-perception can erode one's self-esteem and self-worth, leading to a distorted self-identity. Individuals may struggle with feelings of unworthiness, believing they are undeserving of love, success, or happiness. Consequently, this can hinder personal growth, prevent individuals from pursuing their goals, and perpetuate a cycle of self-sabotage.

People often share during sessions stories that they have been carrying around with them for most of their lives. Stories about them being broken or “too much” or “bad” or not lovable. 99% of the time, these stories originated from relational trauma. 

Telling a client they aren’t those things isn’t enough to change these deep perceptions. Understanding their origin and healing that story is what will create a new relationship with oneself. 

Here's a closer look at how trauma can influence self-esteem and the way a person sees themselves:

1. Negative Self-Perception: Trauma can lead individuals to develop a negative view of themselves. They may internalize the negative beliefs and messages associated with the traumatic event, leading to feelings of shame, guilt, or self-blame. This negative self-perception can distort their sense of self-worth, making them believe they are fundamentally flawed or unworthy of love, success, or happiness.

2. Self-Blame and Guilt: Trauma survivors often blame themselves for the traumatic event, even when they were not at fault. They may carry a burden of guilt, feeling responsible for what happened or believing they could have prevented it. This self-blame and guilt can erode self-esteem and lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

3. Loss of Identity: Trauma can disrupt an individual's sense of identity. The traumatic experience may challenge their beliefs, values, and perceptions of themselves and the world. They may struggle to make sense of who they are in light of the trauma, leading to a loss of identity. This loss can contribute to a diminished sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

4. Lack of Trust in Self: Trauma can erode an individual's trust in their own judgment, decisions, and abilities. They may doubt their own capabilities and constantly second-guess themselves, fearing making mistakes or being vulnerable to further harm. This lack of self-trust can hinder personal growth, prevent them from taking risks, and perpetuate a negative cycle of self-sabotage.

5. Self-Protective Behaviors: In response to trauma, individuals may develop self-protective behaviors as a way to guard themselves from potential harm. These behaviors can include emotional withdrawal, avoidance of relationships, or maintaining emotional distance from others. While these behaviors may serve as temporary coping mechanisms, they can reinforce negative self-perceptions and limit opportunities for growth and connection.

6. Impact on Self-Esteem: Trauma can significantly impact self-esteem, which refers to an individual's overall evaluation of their worth and value. Unresolved trauma can undermine self-esteem, leading to feelings of worthlessness, low self-confidence, and a negative self-image. The emotional and psychological wounds from trauma can create a persistent inner critic, constantly undermining their self-esteem and reinforcing negative self-perceptions.

It's important to note that the effects of trauma on self-esteem and self-perception can vary from person to person. However, with the support of a trained therapist or counselor, individuals can work through unresolved trauma, challenge negative self-perceptions, and rebuild their self-esteem. Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for healing, promoting self-compassion, and fostering a positive sense of self.

If you or someone you know is struggling with negative self-belief or self esteem, reach out now to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists. 

You can feel better!


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