How to Get Past Trauma: Tips on Surviving

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to get past trauma? Do you struggle to live with unthinkable memories?

There is no right way when it comes to dealing with trauma. But if you can learn how to get past trauma, you will take back your power and know you can rely on your own strength to get you through the hard times.

Keep reading for advice on how to get past trauma from Rachel Hollis’s own, personal experiences.

How to Get Past Trauma

Many people have been through something traumatic — whether big, small, childhood or adult, they all are members of a club they never asked to join. People who have been through trauma find comfort and solidarity in knowing they aren’t alone and hearing others’ stories.

An important element of surviving trauma is looking for whatever good came out of it. Though difficult, looking for the good in a bad situation means the experience wasn’t wasted.

When you know how to get past trauma, you take back your power and know you can rely on your own strength. The path through hardship is difficult, but the only way to get to the other side is to fight through, even when you feel like you’re drowning.

Living, and even thriving, after experiencing something awful is possible. To illustrate this, the author of Girl, Wash Your Face shares what she went through when her older brother committed suicide.

Hollis was very close to her brother Ryan until she was about 12; then Ryan fell victim to mental illness — borderline schizophrenia, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. He shot himself, and she, at the age of 14, discovered his body. This trauma caused nightmares and crippling fears, leaving her carrying horrific images and guilt.

She didn’t know how to get past trauma, but she did, forging her way through the trauma because she decided to take her power back and draw strength from her tragedy. She looked for the good that came out of the bad and found a sense of strength that she used to get through other hardships in life. Hollis used that strength to get through some of her most challenging times — navigating life in LA at 17, making it through a difficult labor and birth, running marathons, and building companies. She knew she was capable of it all because she’d already lived through worse.

Embrace the good that comes from the pain because otherwise, the experience is wasted. Tony Robbins said: “If you’re going to blame your hard times for all the things that are wrong in your life, you better also blame them for the good stuff too.” 

The path through hardship is difficult, but the only way to get to the other side is to fight through, even when you feel like you’re drowning. While she doesn’t believe everything happens for a reason, she does believe it is possible to find purpose even if there is no explanation.

Tips on Surviving the Unthinkable

Here are some strategies on how to get past trauma:

  • Therapy. For the author, even though it was painful to relive the trauma, the hard work paid off because she is no longer haunted.
  • Talking about it. Find a person you trust who will listen to you, sharing the load..
  • Think about it. After her brother’s death, she struggled with nightmares and obsessing over the images in her head. A therapist had her set aside 5 minutes a day to remember every detail. Knowing she’d think about her pain later gave her some peace during the rest of the day and helped her feel more in control of her thoughts.

There is no one right way on how to get past trauma, but if you’re struggling with traumatic events from the past, try these using tips from Rachel Hollis.

How to Get Past Trauma: Tips on Surviving

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rachel Hollis's "Girl, Wash Your Face" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Girl, Wash Your Face summary :

  • Why you should accept that life can be messy
  • How seeing that you're in control of your life can help you live more joyfully
  • The 20 lies you might be telling yourself

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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