Low self-esteem and Trauma

Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves (Mind 2022). Self-esteem can sometimes feel like it’s very difficult to change.

Low self-esteem is when we minimise ourselves, feel deflated or negatively compare ourselves to others. This often goes hand-in-hand with feelings such as guilt and shame.

low self-esteem trauma

Trauma is one of the leading causes of low self-esteem. When we go through an experience we perceive as being painful, difficult or negative, we often create judgments about ourselves which negatively impact the view we hold of ourselves. Trauma often leads to three different types of judgement:


  1. Judgements about ourselves; I am bad, I am unworthy, I am not good enough.

  2. Judgements about others; people are dangerous, people cannot be trusted, people will hurt me.

  3. Judgements about the world; the world is unpredictable, the world is full of threats, the world is against me.


Relative to self-esteem, it is the judgements we make about ourselves which have the greatest impact. 


In low self-esteem, we are conscious and aware of all the things we dislike, resent and criticise about ourselves. We are simultaneously unconscious of the positive things we like about ourselves. This skewed awareness toward the things we dislike creates a low self-esteem.


Traumatic experiences that generate negative judgements about the self lower self-esteem and shrink our self-image. This movement towards focusing on our negatives then creates a positive feedback loop where we continue to look and find more things we dislike about ourselves. This vicious cycle can sometimes feel difficult to break and often people experience regular bouts of anxiety.


But all is not lost.


We can see right at the beginning that self-esteem is based on the opinions and beliefs we hold, which are a direct result of the judgments we make. When we learn how our minds work, we can release or remove the old, unhelpful judgements that no longer serve us and update them to create new, positive judgements.


This process leads to the consistent improvement of self-esteem, as you slowly but surely realise how capable you really are and how much potential you have. 


One key element that directly influences self-esteem is your life goals. From both a psychological and biochemical perspective, setting meaningful goals and making progress towards their achievement is crucial to high self-esteem. 


When you have goals that help you focus on the future, help you focus on solutions over problems and give you a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem increases. You get to experience the small wins and progress on the way which gives you a regular dose of dopamine and helps you to stay feeling good. The more progress you make, the more you positively reinforce your self-image and the more your self-esteem grows.

In order to transform low self-esteem, we first of all need to reduce and resolve the impact of previous traumas – setting you free from negative judgements. Combine this with meaningful goal setting and consistent progress and your self-esteem will expand exponentially.

To learn more about how trauma-induced low self-esteem can be resolved, download a free copy of ‘Accelerated Trauma Resolution’ by clicking the link below now.