group therapy session for trauma

5 Ways to Overcome Trauma

It’s easy to feel like our trauma limits us. But it’s time to look at mental health in a different way and to consider: Does trauma make you stronger? It may be hard to believe, but yes! While it’s true that untreated trauma can impact our mental health and our ability to live our best lives, with the right support you can use your past to build a better life. And you can start this process by exploring one, some, or all of the following five ways to overcome trauma.

1.  Acknowledge What You’ve Endured

When you’ve been living with trauma and its effects, you have strengths others do not. You may not want to be strong, and you certainly may not feel strong, but you’ve been pushed outside of what you can handle mentally and emotionally — yet you’re still here. To overcome trauma, consider just how much insight, energy, resilience, and emotional power you have already shown. Now consider how you could use these resources if they weren’t all spent on managing your trauma, if they were first redirected towards recovery and then towards creating a different, better future. These shifts can’t come overnight, but with the right professional support, you can begin to appreciate and use the strength that comes after trauma.

With the right support, you can use your past to build a better life.

2. Focus on Loved Ones

Another way to begin overcoming trauma is to think about others — your friends, your family, or the family you’d like to have in the future. In our Beyond Theory podcast, Erie Hebert, Director of Outpatient Services – Austin, shares the beginning of his own story of trauma, addiction, and recovery: “My mom grew up with a lot of physical abuse and was very physically abusive to myself and my sister.” When we aren’t overcoming childhood trauma, military trauma, or trauma stemming from other life experiences, we are much more likely to pass that trauma on to others.

The International Journal of Public Health found, “Parents exposed to trauma were more likely to abuse their children in all studies, and trauma severity, including a PTSD diagnosis in parents, was associated with perpetration of child abuse in most studies.” And it isn’t just parents who can transmit their trauma to their children. Scientific American reveals that 10-20% of people caring for others with PTSD begin to experience PTSD symptoms themselves.

So how does trauma make you stronger when it seems like it creates more problems? It’s only untreated trauma that can be so pervasive. Knowing this and knowing you want better for yourself and those around you, you gain extra motivation to find professional support and stick to your treatment plan.

3. Connect With Others

Social support is a key element of mental wellness and recovery. While trauma and its effects can leave you feeling isolated, the process of healing gives you a stronger support network than ever before. shares, “Many trauma survivors have found that bonds with family, romantic partners, and friends deepen as they begin the vulnerable process of recovery.” Through recovery, you strengthen existing relationships. You also find new sources of social support through group therapy and peer support groups. Trauma and recovery give you empathy, a means of connecting, and opportunities to help others in turn.

4. Ask for Help

Overcoming trauma involves asking for help. And this is a great thing. Because of misunderstandings and stigma, we often think of needing help as a flaw. As Hebert shares, “It was never a cultural norm or family norm to ask for help. I remember that was one of the biggest things, is you don’t put your hand out and ask for help. That’s a sign of weakness.” This message of self-sufficiency, of never speaking up, was reinforced during his time in the military. But only turning inward can leave you, as Hebert describes, “not really having a basis or a system or a person I can trust.” Self-sufficiency leaves us lonely, and if you’re struggling with overcoming trauma, you also know it doesn’t work. Needing help, asking for help, and getting that help is a powerful force for healing and for succeeding in all areas of life.

Needing help, asking for help, and getting that help is a powerful force for healing and for succeeding in all areas of life.

5. Learn What Doesn’t Work

Overcoming trauma and any co-occurring mental health or addiction issues includes learning what doesn’t work. As mentioned previously, you’re most likely here because you’ve already learned DIY doesn’t work. But having tried to manage things on your own isn’t failure. It shows that you want to do better and be better. Anything and everything you’ve tried in the past has brought you the knowledge that you need to do something differently in the future. And as you continue your recovery journey, you may again have minor stumbles or setbacks. Each of these presents an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your recovery, discuss new options with your treatment team, and have greater success in the future.

Start Overcoming Trauma Today

If trauma is impacting your life or the lives of those around you, you have to take steps to tackle trauma. When we don’t treat trauma, we risk never healing old wounds. And we risk creating new ones in ourselves and others. The easiest way to get started overcoming trauma is to reach out to professional resources like The Meadows Outpatient Center. We are here to offer support, information, and resources as you take the first steps towards healing.

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