70 Gabor Maté Quotes About Trauma, Healing, and More

In this post, we will delve into Gabor Maté quotes that inspire us to foster empathy, embrace our vulnerabilities, and embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Gabor Maté, a renowned Canadian physician, author, and speaker, has dedicated his life to exploring the complexities of human behavior and the impact of childhood experiences on physical and mental health. Through his work, he has offered profound insights on the reasons for traumas, addictions, parenting and gave us profound ideas on compassion, and understanding. 

Let’s read some of the best Gabor Maté quotes about the cause and nature of traumas, addiction, emotions, stress and more.

Table of Contents

  1. Gabor Mate Quotes 
  2. Gabor Mate Quotes On Trauma
  3. Gabor Mate Quotes On Addiction
  4. Gabor Mate Quotes On Self
  5. Gabor Mate Quotes On Stress
  6. Gabor Mate Quotes On Society
  7. Gabor Mate Quotes On Parenting
  8. Gabor Mate Quotes On Children
  9. Gabor Mate Quotes On Emotions
  10. Gabor Mate Quotes on Mind

Gabor Mate Quotes 

Gabor Mate Quotes
(Gabor Mate Quotes)
  • “The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain.”
  • “When I am sharply judgmental of any other person, it’s because I sense or see reflected in them some aspect of myself that I don’t want to acknowledge.”
  • We have seen in study after study that compulsive positive thinkers are more likely to develop disease and less likely to survive. Genuine positive thinking — or, more deeply, positive being — empowers us to know that we have nothing to fear from truth.
  • “Not every story has a happy ending, … but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists. How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Trauma

Gabor Mate Quotes On Trauma
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Trauma)
  • “Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experiences. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.”
  • “The greatest damage done by neglect, trauma or emotional loss is not the immediate pain they inflict but the long-term distortions they induce in the way a developing child will continue to interpret the world and her situation in it. All too often these ill-conditioned implicit beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies in our lives. We create meanings from our unconscious interpretation of early events, and then we forge our present experiences from the meaning we’ve created. Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past…Mindful awareness can bring into consciousness those hidden, past-based perspectives so that they no longer frame our worldview.’Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present…Until you reach that point, you are unconscious.’ …In present awareness we are liberated from the past.” 
  • “All of the diagnoses that you deal with – depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar illness, post traumatic stress disorder, even psychosis, are significantly rooted in trauma. They are manifestations of trauma. Therefore the diagnoses don’t explain anything. The problem in the medical world is that we diagnose somebody and we think that is the explanation. He’s behaving that way because he is psychotic. She’s behaving that way because she has ADHD. Nobody has ADHD, nobody has psychosis – these are processes within the individual. It’s not a thing that you have. This is a process that expresses your life experience. It has meaning in every single case.”
  • “From the Latin word vulnerare, “to wound,” vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped. The best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens to overwhelm our capacity to function. The automatic repression of painful emotion is a helpless child’s prime defense mechanism and can enable the child to endure trauma that would otherwise be catastrophic.”
  • “The essence of trauma is disconnection from ourselves. Trauma is not terrible things that happen from the other side—those are traumatic. But the trauma is that very separation from the body and emotions.”
  • “Trauma is not what happens to you, it’s what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you. ”
  • “Trauma is that scarring that makes you less flexible, more rigid, less feeling and more defended.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Addiction

Gabor Mate Quotes On Addiction
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Addiction)
  • “all addictions—whether to drugs or to non-drug behaviors—share the same brain circuits and brain chemicals. On the biochemical level the purpose of all addictions is to create an altered physiological state in the brain. This can be achieved in many ways, drug taking being the most direct. So an addiction is never purely “psychological”; all addictions have a biological dimension.”
  • “A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors.. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden — but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.”
  • “Addiction is not a choice that anybody makes; it’s not a moral failure. What it actually is: it’s a response to human suffering.”
  • “Not why the addiction but why the pain.”
  • “It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.”
  • “Addiction is always a poor substitute for love.”
  • “Passion creates, addiction consumes.”
  • “We see that substance addictions are only one specific form of blind attachment to harmful ways of being, yet we condemn the addict’s stubborn refusal to give up something deleterious to his life or to the life of others. Why do we despise, ostracize and punish the drug addict, when as a social collective, we share the same blindness and engage in the same rationalizations?”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Self

Gabor Mate Quotes On Self
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Self)
  • “Strong convictions do not necessarily signal a powerful sense of self: very often quite the opposite. Intensely held beliefs may be no more than a person’s unconscious effort to build a sense of self to fill what, underneath, is experienced as a vacuum.”
  • “Autonomy is impossible as long as one is driven by anything.”
  • “Knowing oneself comes from attending with compassionate curiosity to what is happening within.”
  • “Compassionate curiosity directed toward the self leads to the truth of things.”
  • “Do I live my life according to my own deepest truths, or in order to fulfill someone else’s expectations? How much of what I have believed and done is actually my own and how much has been in service to a self-image I originally created in the belief it was necessary to please my parents?”
  • “Boredom, rooted in a fundamental discomfort with the self, is one of the least tolerable mental states.”
  • “Being cut off from our own natural self-compassion is one of the greatest impairments we can suffer. Along with our ability to feel our own pain go our best hopes for healing, dignity and love. What seems nonadapative and self-harming in the present was, at some point in our lives, an adaptation to help us endure what we then had to go through. If people are addicted to self-soothing behaviours, it’s only because in their formative years they did not receive the soothing they needed. Such understanding helps delete toxic self-judgment on the past and supports responsibility for the now. Hence the need for compassionate self-inquiry.”
  • “I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.”
  • “What we call the personality is often a jumble of genuine traits and adopted coping styles that do not reflect our true self at all but the loss of it.”
  • “Much of what we call personality is not a fixed set of traits, only coping mechanisms a person acquired in childhood.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Stress

Gabor Mate Quotes On Stress
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Stress)
  • “The research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to stress: uncertainty, the lack of information and the loss of control.”
  • “Emotional competence requires the capacity to feel our emotions, so that we are aware when we are experiencing stress; the ability to express our emotions effectively and thereby to assert our needs and to maintain the integrity of our emotional boundaries; the facility to distinguish between psychological reactions that are pertinent to the present situation and those that represent residue from the past.
  • “While nervous tension may be a component of stress, one can be stressed without feeling tension.”
  • “Certainly, all traumatic events are stressful, but not all stressful events are traumatic.”
  • “In order to heal, it is essential to gather the strength to think negatively. Negative thinking is not a doleful, pessimistic view that masquerades as “realism.” Rather, it is a willingness to consider what is not working. What is not in balance? What have I ignored? What is my body saying no to? Without these questions, the stresses responsible for our lack of balance will remain hidden.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Society

Gabor Mate Quotes On Society
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Society)
  • “No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side.”
  • “The essence of capitalism is to separate the mind from the body. And, basically, people are all considered material goods. People matter only insofar as they produce, consume, or own matter. If you don’t produce, consume, or own matter, then you don’t matter in this society.”
  • “You need to look at what is it about our society that generates what we call abnormality?”
  •  “Whereas individual people can become dislocated by misfortunes in any society, only a free-market society produces mass dislocation as part of its normal functioning, even during periods of prosperity.”
  • “We keep trying to change people’s behaviours without a full understanding of how and why those behaviours arise.”
  • “Work pressures, multitasking, social media, news updates, multiplicities of entertainment sources—these all induce us to become lost in thoughts, frantic activities, gadgets, meaningless conversations. We are caught up in pursuits of all kinds that draw us on not because they are necessary or inspiring or uplifting, or because they enrich or add meaning to our lives, but simply because they obliterate the present.”
  • “We must all accept responsibility for our actions, else the world becomes unlivable. Yet it would be a tremendous social advance if we made some effort to understand what experiences turn people into flawed or irresponsible or even antisocial beings. We would then approach the issue of crime, for one example, in a very different manner.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Parenting

Gabor Mate Quotes On Parenting
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Parenting)
  •  “What if our intention, as parents, as educators, as a society, was to raise children in touch with their feelings, authentically empowered to express them, to think independently and be prepared to act on behalf of their principles?”
  • “It’s not an automatic outcome of living in the world that we should become disconnected. It’s a product of a certain way of life and a certain way of parenting and certain childhood experiences, where it becomes too painful to stay connected so disconnection becomes a defense.”
  • “We think that children act, whereas what they mostly do is react. Parents who realize this acquire a powerful tool. By noticing their own responses to the child, rather than fixating on the child’s responses to them, they free up tremendous energy for growth.”
  • “Whatever the hopes, wishes or intentions of the parent, the child does not experience the parent directly: the child experiences the parenting.”
  • “Many adults have not attained maturity — have not mastered being independent, self-motivated individuals capable of tending their own emotional needs and of respecting the needs of others. Among the several reasons why maturity is less and less prevalent today, peer orientation is probably the main culprit. Immaturity and peer orientation go hand in hand. The earlier the onset of peer orientation in a child’s life and the more intense the preoccupation with peers, the greater the likelihood of being destined to perpetual childishness.”
  •  “If a mother has eight children, there are eight mothers. This is not simply because of the fact that the mother was different in her attributes to each of the eight. If she could have been the same with each… each child would have had his or her own mother seen through individual eyes.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Children

Gabor Mate Quotes On Children
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Children)
  • In each of the individual histories of illness in this book, one or more aspect of emotional competence was significantly compromised, usually in ways entirely unknown to the person involved. Emotional competence is what we need to develop if we are to protect ourselves from the hidden stresses that create a risk to health, and it is what we need to regain if we are to heal. We need to foster emotional competence in our children, as the best preventive medicine.”
  • “Children are a great incentive and impetus for parents to learn about themselves, about each other and about life itself. Unfortunately, much of the learning may occur at their expense.”
  • “If our environment cannot support our gut feelings and our emotions, then the child, in order to ‘belong’ and ‘fit in’ will automatically, unwittingly and unconsciously, suppress their emotions and their connections to themselves, for the sake of staying connected to the nurturing environment, without which the child cannot survive. A lot of children are in this dilemma – Can I feel and express what I feel or do I have to suppress that in order to be acceptable, to be a good kid, to be a nice kid?”
  • “Love felt by the parent does not automatically translate into love experienced by the child.”
  • “We readily feel for the suffering child, but cannot see the child in the adult who, his soul fragmented and isolated, hustles for survival a few blocks away from where we shop or work.”
  • “Sensitive children come to be called “difficult” because adults have trouble understanding their temperament and because parenting methods that work with other children are frustratingly inadequate with this group.”

Gabor Mate Quotes On Emotions

Gabor Mate Quotes On Emotions
(Gabor Mate Quotes On Emotions)
  • “When people speak of feeling hurt or of having emotional pain, they are not being abstract or poetic, but scientifically quite precise.”
  • “What seems like a reaction to some present circumstance is, in fact, a reliving of past emotional experience.”
  • “Depending on circumstances, I may choose to manifest the anger in some way or to let go of it. The key is that I have not suppressed the experience of it.”
  • “The greatest damage done by neglect, trauma or emotional loss is not the immediate pain they inflict but the long-term distortions they induce in the way a developing child will continue to interpret the world and her situation in it. All too often these ill-conditioned implicit beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies in our lives.”
  • “Free choice only comes from thinking; it doesn’t come from emotions. It emerges from the capacity to think about your emotions.”
  • “Self-esteem is not what the individual consciously thinks about himself; it’s the quality of self-respect manifested in his emotional life and behaviors.”
  • “Many of us live, if not alone, then in emotionally inadequate relationships that do not recognize or honour our deepest needs. Isolation and stress affect many who may believe their lives are quite satisfactory. “
  • “Time after time it was the “nice” people, the ones who compulsively put other’s expectations and needs ahead of their own and who repressed their so-called negative emotions, who showed up with chronic illness in my family practice, or who came under my care at the hospital palliative ward I directed.”
  • “The same goes for us: no emotional vulnerability, no growth.”
  • “When we flee our vulnerability, we lose our full capacity for feeling emotion.”
  •  “The best attitude to adopt is one of compassionate patience, which has to include a tolerance for failure.”
  • “A therapist once said to me, “If you face the choice between feeling guilt and resentment, choose the guilt every time.” It is wisdom I have passed on to many others since. If a refusal saddles you with guilt, while consent leaves resentment in its wake, opt for the guilt. Resentment is soul suicide. Negative thinking allows us to gaze unflinchingly on our own behalf at what does not work.”
  • “Shame is the deepest of the “negative emotions,” a feeling we will do almost anything to avoid. Unfortunately, our abiding fear of shame impairs our ability to see reality.”

Gabor Mate Quotes on Mind

Gabor Maté Mind Quotes
(Gabor Maté Mind Quotes)
  • “We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.”
  • “Your worst enemy cannot hurt you as much as your own thoughts, when you haven’t mastered them,” said the Buddha. “But once mastered, no one can help you as much—not even your father and your mother.”
  • “Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past. Mindful awareness can bring into consciousness those hidden, past-based perspectives so that they no longer frame our worldview.”
  • “It’s a subtle thing, freedom. It takes effort; it takes attention and focus to not act something like an automaton. Although we do have freedom, we exercise it only when we strive for awareness, when we are conscious not just of the content of the mind but also of the mind itself as a process.”
  • “Not the world, not what’s outside of us, but what we hold inside traps us. We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.”

These Gabor Maté quotes offer profound insights into the human experience, and invite us to explore our vulnerabilities, embrace self-compassion, and cultivate empathy for others. 

Through his work, he illuminates the interconnectedness of our physical and emotional well-being and the impact of early experiences on our lives. As we reflect on his wisdom, may we embark on a journey of healing, understanding, and self-discovery, fostering compassion and connection in our relationships and communities.

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