Trauma is epidemic in our day and time as we are now globally connected through technology. A 24-hour cable news cycle inundates us with disasters of every type. People suffer accidents, human-made and natural. Neighbors and family members treat each other outrageously. Tragedy seems to strike randomly and, too often, in everyday places.
Do you know survival, grief and the process of recovery all too well having been impacted directly or indirectly by trauma?
If so, how are you now? Have you been able to reconstruct the confusion of your life and identify what a traumatic experience forces you redefine?
No matter what, trauma changes you. Traumatic events profoundly impact our sense of safety. They have the devastating effects of a hurricane in our psyche. But what makes it possible to grow positively from such an experience rather than drown in it?
Researchers call such a capacity for resilience and transformation post-traumatic growth (PTG).
In essence, researchers suggest that the worst days of life after a traumatic event do not need to become a permanent reality, but they will be if left unprocessed. Research indicates that we can transform in a meaningful and beautiful way after a traumatic event becomes digested with the help of a skilled therapist. I have witnessed such miracles in my practice.
Let’s explore how PTG can transform your traumatized mind and inspire you to live well.
So, what is PTG exactly?
Richard Tedeschi, Ph.D. and Lawrence Calhoun, Ph.D. coined the term, “post-traumatic growth” in the mid-1990s. Over time, the concept came to embody ideas of growth, development, and resilience as a potential outcome of one or more traumatic experiences.
Generally, post-traumatic growth stems from actively attempting to deal with trauma. As you think about it, process it, and make as much sense of it as possible, your natural emotion-focused way of coping is engaged. You start to see your experience as meaningful. Rather than feeling defeated by the experience, you feel empowered.
Your mind begins a positive and powerful transformation.
Give in or Carry On? Why Mindset Matters
So how does this happens in your mind? When things go drastically wrong what inspires the desire to survive and thrive?
Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University, a trauma expert, believes that recovery and PTG come through the active restoration of choice and personal power. Then, opting for comforting, supportive relationships help nurture a sense of safety in which awareness and grief can be explored. Finally, these good experiences allow for productive engagement in everyday life and a hopeful desire to move forward and positively contribute to the world.
In other words, PTG is the ability to accept what is, the mental resilience to move forward with lessons learned, and the ability to seek out and recognize healthier relationships as well. You’re not anxiously ignoring your feelings, avoiding memories, or withdrawing from your future when PTG occurs. How many times have we seen a man or woman claim that their accomplishments and compassion stem from an abusive childhood, sexual assault, or losses incurred from a hurricane or tornado? The ability to acknowledge their pasts and see them as purposeful direction allows them to carry on.
If you close your mind to hope and help from others, growth is hard to fashion. The mental changes and sense of wellbeing people who experience PTG embrace are often referred to as blessings, life-lessons, wisdom, and transformative. PTG results when you let your experience shape a more open, willing, generous frame of mind.
Transformation through Post-traumatic Growth Happens in 5 Key Ways
According to experts, experiencing positive change as a result of and through your trauma generally occurs in the following five critical ways as you process your trauma:
1. You develop a sense of life’s potential. Possibilities and fresh starts seem to evolve from your struggles.
2. Your relationships with people are changed. You seek connection and closeness to certain people. An affinity and bond with other trauma sufferers may materialize.
3. You notice a rise in personal strength, resilience and the capacity to cope with uncertainty.
4. A general appreciation for life.
5. An increased interest in exploring your spirituality and sense of meaning in life. You may find that your belief systems deepen or shift significantly.
PTG and Professional Support
In essence, the growth you experience following some of your darkest days may be the stuff of a motivational speech, the genesis of a charity foundation, or an inspirational blog of your own. If so, fantastic! Keep thriving!
However, the ability to accept life’s hard hits, heal, and move forward doesn’t always come naturally or easily. To grow the way you want to may take guidance and support from a professional. There’s no shame in that. Please don’t wait to reach out.
Consider contacting me soon. Let’s work together to ensure your perspective on life, and those you share it with, blossom into the growth for which you long.