The best books to heal childhood trauma and self-sabotage

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a home with severe emotional abuse and neglect. Scoring 6 on the ACEs (adverse childhood events) test became a wake-up call; according to the test, my life span had been shortened by 20 years and I was determined to get them back. I stopped protecting my abusive family and got honest about what I had been through. This drew an audience who said I helped them feel seen and heard (and they did the same for me). I’ve spent the last decade on a healing journey from addiction and self-sabotage, the culmination of which is my new book and trauma-informed coaching practice that transforms lives.


I wrote...

It's Not Your Fault: The Subconscious Reasons We Self-Sabotage and How to Stop

By Laura K. Connell,

Book cover of It's Not Your Fault: The Subconscious Reasons We Self-Sabotage and How to Stop

What is my book about?

It’s Not Your Fault helps readers uncover the subconscious reasons they hold themselves back. These blind spots were often created in childhood as coping mechanisms in response to trauma. Rather than teaching tactics that ignore or give surface attention to adverse childhood events, the book lovingly guides readers to explore the ways these events have impacted their lives and how this knowledge will help them access true transformation.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Laura K. Connell Why did I love this book?

This book helped me understand why I could never talk myself out of my self-sabotage, especially the inability to stand up for myself and set boundaries.

I learned that my trauma responses are stored in my body (the nervous system) and that’s why logic and reason don’t heal them. Positive self-talk and behavior modification are nothing in the face of an unhealed nervous system.

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der…


Book cover of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

Laura K. Connell Why did I love this book?

In this book, a medical doctor makes the connection between suppressed emotions, especially anger and rage, and disease in the body.

When we live inauthentic lives, our bodies manifest this self-abandonment through auto-immune issues (literally the body turning against itself). He notes that women especially have the tendency to abandon themselves to serve others which creates repressed resentments that come out as disease in the body. It helped explain my painful bout with shingles which became a turning point for me in committing to living for myself instead of others.

By Gabor Maté,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked When the Body Says No as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there a connection between the ability to express emotions and Alzheimer's disease? Is there such a thing as a 'cancer personality'?

Drawing on deep scientific research and Dr Gabor Mate's acclaimed clinical work, When the Body Says No provides the answers to critical questions about the mind-body link - and the role that stress and our emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

When the Body Says No:

- Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome…


Book cover of Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

Laura K. Connell Why did I love this book?

This book is essential reading for anyone recovering from complex trauma. C-PTSD is the outcome of growing up in a toxic home with years of physical or emotional abuse and neglect.

I felt less alone reading a book by a survivor instead of someone who only treats survivors. He makes you feel understood as he describes his own experiences as a child and how they impacted his self-worth. When your parents ignore you or only notice you to criticize, you develop a negative self-regard.

He shows you how to break free from the cycle of self-loathing brought on by unloving parents and to know you are not what they or anyone else says about you.

By Pete Walker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Complex PTSD as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A GUIDE AND MAP FOR RECOVERING FROM CHILDHOOD TRAUMA


Book cover of The Emotionally Absent Mother: How to Recognize and Heal the Invisible Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect

Laura K. Connell Why did I love this book?

Having grown up with a mentally ill and emotionally abusive mother, I had never considered emotional abuse a form of emotional neglect.

My mother used silent treatment and contempt to control me and forced me to tend to her emotional needs while ignoring mine. She shared inappropriate personal information and used me as her confidante while offering me no support or guidance. This book helps explain the deep hole left from the mother wound and how to heal from the lack of emotional support.

By Jasmin Lee Cori,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Emotionally Absent Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This speaks directly to adults who wish to overcome their 'mother gap' through reflections, exercises, and explanations. Many people feel something was missing from their childhood and wonder why their mother didn't seem there for them. Though she may have physically cared, for many, there remains a sense of having been a 'motherless child.' It is then difficult to maintain a relationship with her as an adult.The Emotionally Absent Mother helps readers understand why their mother was so unable to provide what many others were able to.This expanded edition will describe how to:*Identify the impacts of emotional neglect and abuse…


Book cover of Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

Laura K. Connell Why did I love this book?

This book helped me realize how emotional neglect in my childhood had contributed to my innate sense that something is wrong with me.

Since emotional neglect is more what your parents did not do than what they did, it’s hard to put into words why you feel the way you do. I blamed myself for my struggles and felt completely disconnected from others and the world. I had difficulty understanding and regulating my emotions, and often felt shut down and flat.

The only way to feel good and escape the pain was to drink too much, eat too much sugar, and take unhealthy risks, all of which negatively impacted my life outcomes. This book will help you know you’re not alone and that emotional neglect is a form of abuse.

By Jonice Webb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Running on Empty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This informative guide helps you identify and heal from childhood emotional neglect so you can be more connected and emotionally present in your life.

Do you sometimes feel like you're just going through the motions in life? Do you often act like you're fine when you secretly feel lonely and disconnected? Perhaps you have a good life and yet somehow it's not enough to make you happy. Or perhaps you drink too much, eat too much, or risk too much in an attempt to feel something good. If so, you are not alone-and you may be suffering from emotional neglect.…


You might also like...

Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

Book cover of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

Lisa McCourt Author Of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t always a joyful person. But today I’m freaking sunshine, and full-out committed to being an effective member of the team that’s elevating the level of love and joy in the world! My positions on that team have included writing dozens of mega-selling books (my own, and as a ghostwriter), founding my online Joy School at LisaMcCourt.com, hosting my Do Joy! podcast, and collaborating on projects with many other popular teachers of consciousness and joyful living. My books have sold over 9 million copies, earned 7 publishing industry awards, and garnered over 9,000 glowing Amazon reviews. Joy is my jam. I know a joyful book when I read one! 

Lisa's book list on igniting joy despite all the crap in your life

What is my book about?

We all want peace. We all want a life of joy and meaning. We want to feel blissfully comfortable in our own skin, moving through the world with grace and ease. But how many of us are actively taking the steps to create such a life? 

In Free Your Joy, millions-selling author and podcaster Lisa McCourt takes readers through the life-altering principles of vibration elevation that she has taught for 20 years through her online Joy School, sharing her unique formula for raising your “joy setpoint” to cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life. Joy is…

Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

What is this book about?

Bestselling author and creator of Joy School Lisa McCourt outlines her unique formula for sustainable happiness, offering a year's worth of activities, prompts, and techniques that raise your "joy setpoint" so you can cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life.

Unprecedented global events have left many of us feeling depleted, depressed, isolated, and disconnected from many of the things that made us happy. Lisa McCourt, host of the Do Joy! podcast and founder of Joy School, helps people raise their joy setpoints regardless of what is happening around them.

Learning about joy is one thing, but it's…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in PTSD, child abuse, and stress?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about PTSD, child abuse, and stress.

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