Article image

14 Quotes About Overcoming Trauma

Trauma, as a concept, is complicated. The word comes from the ancient Greek for “wound,” and was originally used only for physical injuries. Since the end of the 19th century, however, the term has also been applied psychologically, to refer to severe mental or emotional stress.

The recognition of emotional trauma has long been highlighted by war. During World War I, it was known as “shell shock,” and soldiers suffering from the condition were often ignored or berated. Later, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) came into use following numerous diagnoses of military veterans. Today, PTSD is diagnosed for a wide range of emotionally or physically traumatic events, from war to abuse to tragic accidents or loss.

Smaller and at times less obviously traumatic experiences can also be debilitating. For this reason, some medical experts divide trauma into “big-T” and “little-t” categories, with the “little-t” traumas covering events such as divorce, financial worries, and the loss of a job — none of which are likely to lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms, but can nonetheless be incredibly difficult and disruptive to daily life, challenging our ability to feel healthy and happy.

Many people experience trauma during their lives, be it “big-T” or “little-t” or both. The process of healing can be long, but overcoming trauma is certainly possible. The following quotes, from psychotherapists, famous authors, and others, shine a light on the road to recovery.

To survive trauma, one must be able to tell a story about it.
— Natasha Trethewey, poet

When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we’re not alone.
— Fred Rogers

We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.
— Gabor Maté, physician and author

As every therapist will tell you, healing involves discomfort — but so does refusing to heal. And, over time, refusing to heal is always more painful.
— Resmaa Menakem, author and psychotherapist

While trauma can be hell on earth, trauma resolved is a gift of the gods — a heroic journey that belongs to each of us.
— Peter A. Levine, author and psychotherapist

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
— Maya Angelou

Trauma is like grief. You can be fine for four or five years, then it comes back and hits you like it happened the day before. But then you can heal, you can find ways to love yourself, to be a valid member of society, to give back.
— Samantha Morton, actress

So many people with trauma feel like they’re failing because they have a bad day or a bad week or a bad year. And you know what? If you wake up, you’re not failing. If you brush your teeth, you’re not failing.
— Roxane Gay, author, professor, and social commentator

The traumas we inherit or experience firsthand can not only create a legacy of distress, but also forge a legacy of strength and resilience that can be felt for generations to come.
— Mark Wolynn, author and psychotherapist

Very often, “what happened” takes years to reveal itself. It takes courage to confront our actions, peel back the layers of trauma in our lives, and expose the raw truth of our past. But this is where healing begins.
— Oprah Winfrey

One of the hardest things was learning I was worth recovery.
— Demi Lovato

Healing is not a onetime event but rather a journey... As it relates to healing the wounds of trauma, it is a journey from helplessness (which is the essence of trauma) to mastery.
— Jasmin Lee Cori, author and psychotherapist

I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.
— Lady Gaga

Someone who has experienced trauma also has gifts to offer all of us — in their depth, their knowledge of our universal vulnerability, and their experience of the power of compassion.
— Sharon Salzberg

Photo credit: Dave Hoefler/ Unsplash

Author image
About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
Fill in the blank: "Let frustration fuel ___." - Sonia Boyce

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

Compassion is one of the purest springs of love.

separator icon
Anne Truitt
motivation theme icon

Not all those who wander are lost.

separator icon
J.R.R. Tolkien
hope theme icon

Exuberance is beauty.

separator icon
William Blake
love theme icon

Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.

separator icon
David Bowie
wisdom theme icon

All experience is great providing you live through it.

separator icon
Alice Neel
happiness theme icon

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

separator icon
Martin Luther King Jr.
motivation theme icon

Some things are best mended by a break.

separator icon
Edith Wharton
hope theme icon

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

separator icon
Kurt Vonnegut
love theme icon

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

separator icon
Anaïs Nin
wisdom theme icon

Do one thing every day that scares you.

separator icon
Mary Schmich
happiness theme icon

You just can’t live in that negative way... make way for the positive day.

separator icon
Bob Marley