VIDEO: Gabor Maté on Making Sense of Our Pain

Finding a Pathway to Compassion for Ourselves and Others

Right now, a lot of us are struggling: with fears around the pandemic, with grief and anger around racial injustice, with economic losses, with feelings of depression and isolation. 

What can we do to do to address the overwhelming anxiety in our lives? What can we do to be kinder to ourselves, to be in a better position to effect positive change, as therapists and as human beings?

Physician, trauma expert, and bestselling author Gabor Maté offers his take, and shares a personal story about understanding and working through emotional pain.

As Maté explains, anxiety and panic draw upon raw, early memories of suffering, so it’s understandable that the current crises we face hit us as hard as they do.

But there’s a silver lining, he adds: understanding the root of our pain helps us make sense of it, “get to know” it, and retake control of our lives. Even the darkest moments can be compassionate, he says, because they shed light on what’s not working.

Our work as therapists, Maté says in a recent Networker article, “is to help people see the connections among their existence, the nature of the culture we live in, and the functioning of all of humanity. It’s about challenging the idea that someone’s value is dependent on how well they fit into an abnormal, unhealthy culture.”

Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté, MD, a family practitioner for over three decades, is the author of four bestselling books, including When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. His upcoming books include The Myth of Normal: Illness and Health in an Insane Culture.