This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Gap and The Gain" by Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What are some practical ways to heal from the trauma you’ve experienced? How might you deal with your past in a way that gives you a brighter future?
In The Gap and the Gain, entrepreneurial coach Dan Sullivan and organizational psychologist Benjamin Hardy contend that Gap- and Gain-thinking affect your well-being. Gain-thinking, they argue, can lead to a happier life. If you’ve experienced trauma, though, a happy life might seem out of reach. The authors provide techniques that help you frame your past trauma in a way that promotes Gain-thinking and puts you on the path toward healing.
Read more to learn Sullivan and Hardy’s advice on how to overcome trauma.
If you want to learn how to overcome trauma, you must understand two ways of dealing with the memory. Here are the steps.
Step 1: Confront the Memory
The first step is to organize your thoughts and feelings regarding the traumatic event (in other words, to understand the impact the event has had on you) by actively thinking about it instead of avoiding it.
Step 2: Transform the Memory
The second step is to transform your memory by thinking about the positive impact the event has had on your life. Think about what you learned from the experience and what about the event you’re grateful for. (For a more detailed explanation of this thought exercise, refer to Chapter 6 of the book for Dan Sullivan’s The Experience Transformer® activity.)
(Shortform note: The Experience Transformer® is an example of a psychological practice known as cognitive reappraisal, or altering your perception of something by viewing it from a different perspective. Cognitive reappraisal is the core principle behind cognitive behavioral therapy, a popular subset of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse disorders, and other mental illnesses.)
Hardy and Sullivan believe a healthy outlook on the past will shape how you view the present. Transforming your negative, traumatic memories into positive learning experiences will lead to post-traumatic growth—you’ll not only be resilient to trauma, but you’ll also be better because of it.
(Shortform note: Psychologists measure the positive outcomes of trauma using a tool called the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. With this scale, researchers found that people who experienced traumatic events reported more positive changes in their lives than those who didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary. This reinforces the argument that trauma can strengthen and improve you.)
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Gap and The Gain summary :
- Why you must compare who you are now to who you used to be
- Why you should focus on your past rather than your future
- How Gain-Thinking can improve your happiness, self-esteem, and physical health