How to Overcome Old Wounds with Resilience

John ThurmanBy John Thurman12 Minutes

How Do You Deal with Old Wounds?

Everyone is talking about trauma, but very few are talking about how to be transformed by it rather than transfixed by it. All of us have been wounded at some point in our lives in this article I will show you how to overcome old wounds with resilience.

There appears to be an ever-increasing number of people reporting feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Many are anxious and depressed and have little or no confidence in their ability to solve their problems.

Trauma and abuse are debilitating, particularly if a childhood experience of abuse and trauma leaves them feeling helpless. If you have experienced anything like this, please consider getting the help you need.

As a mental health professional, I know trauma and abuse are destructive to the soul and can be challenging to overcome. But the good news is that humanity has been triumphing over personal trauma and abuse for millennia. In how to overcome old wounds with resilience we will review two key components to getting better along with four proven tips you can you to experience a more meaningful life.

If you are dealing with old wounds, I want to give you a sense of hope. You’re not alone. Traumatic events have been a part of human existence since creation. People have been working through traumatic events since the cave dwellers—and we’ve learned a few things since then.

My purpose in this article is to give you some proven tools and tips you can start using now to experience positive post-traumatic growth. (NOTE: If you need to see a mental health professional or a medical provider, please do!)

Dr. Ava Pommerenk’s article, “This Truth Shall Set Your Free: You Are Responsible for Your Triggers,” offers fascinating insight and hope for people feeling overwhelmed by triggers.

Do you hit replay every time you have a regret, an intrusive thought, make a mistake, or take a wrong step? You can do four simple, practical things to boost your resilience, enhance your self-esteem, deepen your spiritual life, and neutralize the poisoning impact of traumatic events. If you want to see a significant shift in your life, you can learn to change your thoughts and change your life. Give these tools a try.

Before I get into them, I want to mention two principles that should be operating in the background as you implement these new ways of thinking. The first is resistance.


Resistance is essentially stress inoculation. It refers to the ability of an individual, group, organization, or even an entire population to resist manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction associated with critical incidents, terrorism, and even mass disasters. Resistance is a form of psychological/behavioral immunity to distress and dysfunction.

Resistance helps you predict that sometimes you might not want to do the work you need to but you will do it anyway. You will learn to resist the temptation to return to your old ways of thinking and behaving. You will begin to see the positive impact of learning to change your thoughts and life in powerful and positive ways. Resistance means you are taking active measures to mitigate the trouble. Being able to resist tough times helps develop your resilience.


The second is resilience. According to Dr. George Bonanno, resilience is a naturally occurring tool most people have always had in their psychological lockers, which is enhanced or weakened by experience and circumstances. In a nutshell, resilience is the power to overcome adversity, trauma, and low self-esteem and to be strengthened. My friend, trauma survivor, and fellow author Danielle Bernock says, “To be resilient is the ability to thrive instead of being traumatized.”

Dr. George Everly defines resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, or rebound from extreme challenges or adversity.

Personal resilience is your ability to bounce back, pick yourself up, and try again (and again and again) until you either succeed or decide on a more productive direction. Dr. George Bonanno further defines it this way: Resilience is the ability of individuals exposed to a potentially highly disruptive event to maintain healthy psychological, spiritual, and physical functioning and the capacity for positive emotions.

Resilience is your ability to see yourself in the dark abyss of failure, humiliation, or depression and bounce back, not only to where you were before but to even greater heights of success, happiness, intentionality, and inner strength.

Resilience helps you withstand adversity. It gives you a form of immunity that enables you to make the right decisions under pressure, motivates you to move forward, and always allows you to bounce back quickly and effectively.

4 Tips for Dealing with Trauma

Here are the four tips that will help as you learn to change your thoughts and life.

Tip # 1 – Supervise your self-talk.

Whether you realize it or not, you converse with yourself constantly. Here is the question: Is it a productive conversation or an energy-stealing one? If the discussion is positive and hope-filled, you are creating and sustaining a favorable view of yourself. If you are negative, you undermine your self-worth. You diminish the fact that God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

In their book, The Answer, businessmen/authors John Assaraf and Murray Smith talk about the negative messages children receive growing up. They write, “By the time you’re 17 years old, you’ve heard ‘No, you can’t’ an average of 150,000 times. You’ve heard ‘Yes, you can’ 5,000 times. That’s 30 no’s for every yes, creating a powerful belief of ’I can’t, so why even try.”

Wow! That is a lot to overcome. If we want to change our lives, we must change how we think about ourselves. Ethel Waters, a famous jazz and gospel singer whose birth resulted from her mother’s rape, spoke for us all: “I know I’m somebody ’cause God don’t make no junk.”

It helps if you learn to become your own encourager, your cheerleader. Don’t just let it pass every time you do a good job; give yourself a compliment. Every time you choose discipline over overindulgence, recognize how much you are helping yourself. When you make a mistake, don’t bring up everything wrong with yourself; tell yourself you are paying the price for growth and will learn to do better next time. Every positive thing you can say to yourself will help.

Tip # 2 – Stop comparing yourself to others.

Comparing yourself to others is a needless time- and energy-sucking game that only makes you feel bad. Instead, your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday. You do that by focusing on what you can do today to improve and grow. Do that enough, and if you look back and compare the you of weeks, months, and years ago to the you of today, you should be greatly encouraged by your progress.

Tip#3 – Stretch your limiting beliefs.

Some of you might say, “When it comes to believing in myself, I am an agnostic.” Sadly, too many people think this way about themselves. As a result, they believe they need help to accomplish great things. But the most significant limitations people experience are those they impose on themselves. Businessman Charles Schwab said, “When a person has put limits on what they will do, they have put a limit on what they can do.”

Tip # 4 – Build up others.

People with low self-esteem often see themselves as inadequate or feel like victims (which usually starts because they actually have been victimized in their past), and they over-focus on themselves. As a result, they can become self-protective and selfish because they believe that’s what it takes to survive.

If this sounds a little close to home, one of the best ways to combat those feelings is by serving others and working on adding value to their lives. Making a difference — even a small one — in the lives of others lifts one’s self-esteem. It is hard to feel bad about yourself when doing something for someone else. Also, adding value to others makes them value you more. It creates a cycle of positive feelings from one person to another.

As you are learning more about how to overcome old wounds with resilience, I want to remind you that the Bible has some excellent, time-tested to help you along your journey.

Tip# 5 – Get help.

Find a competent therapist that can help you if you need it. Focus on the Family maintains a great list of Christian Therapist here is a link to the Christian Counselor Network

Ancient Wisdom

Take a few moments to read the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. It is a fascinating story of intrigue, neglect, abuse, false imprisonment, and overcoming adversity. Despite all the things he went through, Joseph maintained hope and ultimately rescued his people.

Here are some other biblical truths that can help you learn to manage your thoughts:

Philippians 4:6-9
I Peter 5:7-9

Hoping you choose today to have a great day!