February 7, 2022

Trauma-Informed Language: 5 Phrases we need to Change.

trauma-informed language

Words matter.

Your words, mine, and collectively.

Navigating and healing from life’s traumas can feel like climbing Everest only to be knocked to the bottom to start over, again and again. Society is proliferated with words about this process which are insensitive and actually cruel.

Mindful speech is about using words with awareness and intention.

Here is a short list of some powerful words that I believe should never be uttered to another human:

Get over it.

These words have yet to speed up any healing process. Even worse, they can keep us stuck.

Time heals.

Does it? Time heals bodies. Grief, emotional, and psychological pain are different. Grief has no timeline. No start. No finish.

God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.

This is a sucker punch to the heart. I don’t know about you, but my idea of God is love. I don’t believe our life traumas are scripts based upon our strength and tolerance. I don’t believe a loving God would want us to suffer. The whole idea that trauma is linked to spiritual growth is a trite statement of a strange and multifaceted connection.

They are in a better place.


Have you been there?

It is better to say nothing than utter this phrase to the bereaved. Grief is a difficult experience and trying to make someone feel better about loss is a losing game.

Just breathe.

Yes, breathwork helps, but it is never helpful to utter this phrase. People in distress find it minimizing and condescending.

Trauma wasn’t your fault, but healing is your responsibility.

Here’s the big whammy! This phrase, I believe, is the most insensitive thing we can ever say or offer to another human. Of course, healing is an individual process. But do we really need to say this to individuals who are often just getting by?

Instead, I offer this: Healing is a possibility, not a responsibility.

Healing is a life journey and every step you take is brave and beautiful.

Challenging and changing language takes time and effort. We can all use trauma-informed language and begin to challenge our own negative biases regarding trauma and mental wellness. We can use our words with intention.

There are so many other phrases we can change. Can you think of some?


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