What exactly is trauma? Well, trauma is the word we use to describe the emotional (and physical) response your body has to a terrible event. Immediately following the event, a person might also experience shock and denial.
However, longer-term reactions might include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, trouble with relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. Some of these trauma quotes offer some inspirational ideas for healing, while others explain what trauma feels like.
There are three types of trauma. The first is acute trauma which stems from a single event, like a terrible car accident or natural disaster. The second kind of trauma is called chronic trauma and results from repeated and prolonged traumatic events. This might be abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. The last kind of trauma is referred to as complex trauma. This type of trauma happens when someone is exposed to varied and multiple traumatic events.
These trauma quotes from books by Bessel A. van der Kolk and Peter Levine delve into the effects of trauma on your body and how to move forward toward healing.
Don’t forget to also check out these healing quotes honoring your struggles and strengths.
Healing from Trauma quotes from Peter Levine’s book
1. “Although humans rarely die from trauma, if we do not resolve it, our lives can be severely diminished by its effects. Some people have even described this situation as a “living death.”― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
2. “What I do know is that we become traumatized when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelmed. This inability to adequately respond can impact us in obvious ways, as well as ways that are subtle.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
3. “This difficulty in normalizing ourselves is very important. I believe that the ability to return to equilibrium and balance, after using the “immobility response,” is the primary factor in avoiding being traumatized.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
4. “For someone who’s been traumatized, that feeling of balance and wholeness is such a surprise, it can cause an “identity crisis.” We don’t recognize ourselves because we’re no longer filled with shame and fear and collapse.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
5. “I found that, if given appropriate guidance, human beings can and do shake off the effects of overwhelming events and return to their lives using exactly the same procedures that animals use.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
6. “Our sense of safety and stability in the world and our interpersonal relationships become undermined by childhood abuse because we carry these early thwarted—that is, deeply conflicted—survival patterns into adulthood.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
7. “Often, traumatized people either feel nothing or they feel rage, and often the rage is expressed in inappropriate ways. By beginning to get a sense of what healthy aggression feels like, the extremes of numbness and rage can begin to give way to a healthier middle ground.”― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
8. “The symptoms of trauma can be stable, that is, ever-present. They can also be unstable, meaning that they can come and go and be triggered by stress.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
9. “I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening—a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
10. “I have little doubt that as individuals, families, communities, and even nations, we have the capacity to learn how to heal and prevent much of the damage done by trauma. In so doing, we will significantly increase our ability to achieve both our individual and collective dreams.” ― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
Overcoming trauma quotes from The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk
11. “Trauma produces actual physiological changes, including a recalibration of the brain’s alarm system, an increase in stress hormone.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
12. “When you activate your gut feelings and listen to your heartbreak—when you follow the interoceptive pathways to your innermost recesses—things begin to change.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
13. “We deliberately tried to collect just isolated fragments of their experience—particular images, sounds, and feelings—rather than the entire story, because that is how trauma is experienced.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
14. “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
15. “However, traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become experts at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
16. “People can learn to control and change their behavior, but only if they feel safe enough to experiment with new solutions. The body keeps the score: If trauma is encoded in heartbreaking and gut-wrenching sensations, then our first priority is to help people move out of fight-or-flight states, reorganize their perception of danger, and manage relationships.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
17. “The great challenge is finding ways to reset their physiology, so that their survival mechanisms stop working against them.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
18. “Being traumatized is not just an issue of being stuck in the past; it is just as much a problem of not being fully alive in the present.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
19. “The greatest hope for traumatized, abused, and neglected children is to receive a good education in schools where they are seen and known, where they learn to regulate themselves, and where they can develop a sense of agency.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
20. “Feeling out of control, survivors of trauma often begin to fear that they are damaged to the core and beyond redemption.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Past Trauma quotes about childhood
21. “What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of her or his irrational parenting.” ― Virginia Satir
22. “I think it’s difficult to forget things that are unresolved.” ― Chris Van Allsburg
23. “The areas in which we felt most insecure, unsafe, unloved, uncomfortable, embarrassed, angry, and generally unresolved as a child are the areas that we will be most prone to self-deception as an adult.” ― Cortney S. Warren
24. “Unresolved issues from childhood revisit us in adulthood.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster
25. “Unresolved dissonances between the characters and dispositions of the parents continue to reverberate in the nature of the child and make up the history of its inner sufferings.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
26. “An immature parent with unresolved issues and repressed shame can also transfer his or her shame to us. This interpersonal transference of shame is referred to as induced shame.” ― John Bradshaw
27. “Unresolved emotional pain is the great contagion of our time―of all time.” ― Marc Ian Barasch
28. “It’s like that sometimes for people who have had traumatic experiences in their past life. It’s hard to move on, to belong, in one place when you have unresolved business in another.” ― Amanda Gray
29. “A number of neurotic ancestors, combined with persistent, unresolved terrors of childhood, had deprived me of the comfortable gift of natural courage.” ― Vera Brittain
30. “Your subconscious’s goal is to recreate unresolved childhood issues and then hopefully mend them.” ― Karen Salmansohn
Emotional trauma quotes for healing when the days are hard
31. “Healing is messy!” ― Sijdah Hussain
32. “I know it hurts. I know you feel like you weren’t good enough. But your breakthrough is coming. Don’t give up on yourself now. You came too far. Your value is still high and you’re still beautiful. You don’t need anyone to claim you to feel whole. Let it hurt and grow from it.” ― Keishorne Scott
33. “When we become an expert in our trauma history and know how we self-victimize and drop into denial, we have an opportunity to create a new reality with a new neural pathway in our brain.” ― Kenny Weiss, Your Journey To Success: How to Accept the Answers You Discover Along the Way
34. “You don’t have to preserve your pain in order to prove that it was real.” ― Brittany Burgunder
35. “It is so easy for us to want healing to pursue a more linear path: Something arises and it would be best if we could stay with that.” ― Bonnie Badenoch, The Heart of Trauma: Healing the Embodied Brain in the Context of Relationships
36. “Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.” ― Joubert Botha
37. “Hold yourself back, or heal yourself back together. You decide.” ― Brittany Burgunder
38. “Heartache purged layers of baggage I didn’t know I carried. Gifts hide under the layers of grief.” ― Shauna L Hoey
39. “I’m not crazy, I was abused. I’m not shy, I’m protecting myself. I’m not bitter, I’m speaking the truth. I’m not hanging onto the past, I’ve been damaged. I’m not delusional, I lived a nightmare. I’m not weak, I was trusting. I’m not giving up, I’m healing. I’m not incapable of love, I’m giving. I’m not alone. I see you all here. I’m fighting this.” ― Rene Smith
40. “The fear of what might happen stops people but the trauma process is so beautiful and transformational. There is nothing to fear in our emotions, they will not swallow you whole – they will speak to you in profound ways.” ― Adele Theron
Deep traumatic quotes that remind us of the important things to remember when healing
41. “Our brain and body become addicted to the feelings associated with our trauma and our worst day because they have been firing more than any other feeling.” ― Kenny Weiss, Your Journey To Success: How to Accept the Answers You Discover Along the Way
42. “We deny, suppress, repress, and minimize our trauma to preserve our self-concept. By doing so, we set ourselves up for repeating the cycle again.” ― Kenny Weiss, Your Journey To Success: How to Accept the Answers You Discover Along the Way
43. “One of the symptoms of trauma is feeling helpless. There are things outside our control, but there’s one thing we always do have the power to control, even if we’re not aware of it. It’s the power to respond intentionally using our choice. I call this our superpower.” ― Danielle Bernock, Because You Matter: How to Take Ownership of Your Life So You Can Really Live
44. “The reason why you need emotional support is because it’s important for survivors to be heard. To be understood. To be able to express yourself without fearing criticism or harsh judgement. To be validated for your pain, suffering, and loss. For others to be there for you to encourage you, especially if you’re having a bad day or feeling triggered.” ― Dana Arcuri, Soul Cry: Releasing & Healing the Wounds of Trauma
45. “Healing trauma involves tears. The tears release our pain. The tears are part of our recovery. My friend, please let your tears flow.” ― Dana Arcuri, Soul Cry: Releasing & Healing the Wounds of Trauma
46. “Your external world mirrors your internal state. Heal the parts of you that need your attention or you will forever live out your pain for all to see.” ― Dana Hall LCPC, MA, TF-CBT
47. “We deny, suppress, repress, and minimize our trauma to preserve our self-concept. By doing so, we set ourselves up for repeating the cycle again.” ― Kenny Weiss, Your Journey To Success: How to Accept the Answers You Discover Along the Way
48. “Interpersonal neurobiology asks us to place no boundaries on where and how it might illuminate our world. It is possible that every moment has the potential to be therapeutic in some way.” ― Bonnie Badenoch, The Heart of Trauma: Healing the Embodied Brain in the Context of Relationships
49. “There is no one way to recover and heal from any trauma. Each survivor chooses their own path or stumbles across it.” ― Laurie Matthew, Behind Enemy Lines
50. “Commit to the healing path and trust the process.” ― Rosenna Bakari
What did you learn from these trauma quotes?
Many of these trauma quotes and sayings are from people in the mental health field who have written books aimed at helping trauma survivors take back their lives and find peace and healing. This is often a long and challenging road, so do not be afraid to seek help if you feel like the weight is too much to carry alone.
Having a good therapist can do wonders for a person suffering from the aftermath of their trauma. As someone who had a traumatic childhood, I can attest to how therapy can help you change the course of your life.
It is important to know what therapy can do and what it can not. I think I spent the first year of therapy telling my therapist that I did not understand why she just couldn’t make it better. I felt like it should be the same as going to the doctor; like I came here, now I should get an answer and feel better.
It doesn’t work that way though. Therapy will give you the tools to change the way you behave in the present and reconcile the past. Therapy will also help you in your current relationships. If you are considering seeing a therapist, then check out these helpful tips for finding one in your area.