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Self-Image: Can Childhood Trauma Define How Someone Sees Themselves?

By Oliver JR Cooper 

Although someone might not be aware of how they see themselves, it doesn't mean that this won't be something that will have a massive impact on every area of their life. They can be so caught up in their own self-image that they won't even realise that it is just an idea that they have of who they are.

Therefore, the idea that they have of themselves will have been created in their mind but its effects will appear in every area of their life. This is then a clear example of how what is held in someone's mind will end up defining how they experience life.

Walking Backwards

In order for one to see what is taking place, they would need to take a step back from their life and to look into what is taking place at a deeper level. Through doing this, they will be able to see what is behind what is taking place in their life.

By looking at the foundations, they will be able to find out about what is keeping the house in place, so to speak. If these foundations were not in place, the house would either fall down or it would change shape.

A Closer Look

If they were to take a step back and to think about how they see themselves, they could come out with some, if not all, of the following:

• That they are someone who is worthless

• That they are someone who is a burden

• That they are someone who is not wanted

• That they are someone who has no control

• That they are someone who is powerless

• That they are someone who is incapable

A Disempowering View

Now, even though each of these points, along with others, will just be things that their mind has identified with and are, thus, not a reflection of who they truly are, they will be seen as the absolute truth. The level of belief that they have in each of these points will be what enables each of these things to shape their life.

What this illustrates is the power of belief and how once something is believed with complete certainty, different consequences will have to arise. It won't matter whether this belief has any basis in reality.

The Evidence Is There

For them to accept that how they see themselves is not who they truly are is likely to take time. The reason for this is that the self-image that they have in place will be what is normal and it will be incredibly powerful.

However, regardless of how long this self-image has been in place, it still doesn't change the fact that it is false. Moreover, no matter what feelings and thoughts emanate from this image or what is taking place externally that validates it, it doesn't make it any more real.

One Big Illusion

What this shows is that it can be easy for one to be deceived by what is going on internally and what is going on externally due to how real it seems. To not get caught up in this, they will need to keep in mind that these two worlds, the inner and the outer, are not mirroring back what is true; they are simply mirroring back what they believe to be true.

Naturally, this understanding is not going to fall into place overnight; it could be something that will take a number of years. Also, while certain parts of their self-image might fall away after a while, other parts might stay in place for longer.

One Way

When it comes to changing how they see themselves, one option would be for them to change what is going on up to. So, by changing what is taking place in their mind, their life will gradually change.

This approach may work or it might not be very effective. If it is not very effective, it could show that their self-image is being kept in place by what is taking place in their mind and what is taking place in their body.

Two Levels

What this may illustrate is that they are carrying a lot of emotional baggage in their body and this baggage is keeping their disempowering self-image alive. The emotional energy in their body will fuel the negativity that is taking place in their mind and it will sustain the negative scenarios they continually find themselves in externally.

The 'negative' creative energy that is held inside their body could be the result of what took place during their early years. This may have been a time in their life when they experienced a lot of trauma.

Back In Time

Perhaps this was a time when they were abused and/or neglected on a weekly, if not daily, basis. What happened would have caused them to experience a lot of pain and it would have shaped their view of themselves.

As they were egocentric at this stage of their life, what took place would have been personalised. For example, if was then not that they were being treated badly because their caregiver/s were in a bad way, it was because they themselves were bad.


The meaning that they made out of what took place as a child will now be defining their view of themselves as an adult. And, the emotional pain that they experienced will play a part in manifesting a reality that is in alignment with this image.

If one can relate to this, and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided by the assistance of a therapist or healer.

Author, transformational writer, teacher and consultant, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, and inner awareness. With over two thousand, five hundred in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice.

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Hi! I research topics such as self-development achievement and mental health. I have a passion to use my life experiences and research to help others reach their full potential.