Post Traumatic Growth- Creating Positive Change in the Aftermath
By: Diane Lang
We will all go through a trauma or crisis in our lives at one time or another.
If you are like me, you will go through several and still have more to go.
That’s how life is. It’s filled with ups and downs and we can’t control everything that will happen to us, however, we do have control on how we respond and react to situations.
When we go through a crisis, we can let it take over our world or we can turn inward and figure out what we can learn from from the crisis. Also learning how we can take our pain and help others. This is called Post Traumatic Growth.
Post Traumatic Growth is a positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle and pain from a crisis or trauma. The term was coined in the 1990’s by Richard Tedeschi.
Suffering has its advantages. Let me remind you of them so when you find yourself in the middle of a crisis, you can use them and create Post Traumatic Growth.
1. When we hit rock bottom and we decide to truly accept our situation, we can release the resistance/struggle and stress that comes from a fight we can’t win. When we stay in the struggle, we are fighting against a circumstance we have no control over which causes stress, anger and frustration. When we truly accept a situation, we can breath again, release the stress and see our situation with clarity; not fear or anger.
2. After we go through the acceptance stage, we can take steps forward, take action and create momentum in a positive direction.
3. We can appreciate what we have – When we take the time to accept and move forward, we can start seeing the good in our lives. When the focus is taken away from the negative, we can see the small gifts that occur daily. Start adding gratitude checks into your nightly routine. Before you go to bed every night, ask yourself: What are 2-3 things I’m grateful for that happen today? Gratitude will help you to appreciate the little things while cultivating both happiness and mindfulness.
4. Rock bottom has the power to lead you in a new direction, to find a new purpose and goal in life, to create new passions and desires. I have many clients who have been through major illnesses and injuries that have shaped who they have become. It lead them in the direction of helping others by sharing their stories. How can you take your trauma/crisis story and help others with it? Remember that by sharing your story, you help people feel less alone.
5. Making in through a trauma/crisis creates strength and resiliency. When I became very sick about six years ago, I went into a very dark place. It took me about a year to work my way out of the darkness but when I did, I was so amazed at myself for surviving through a very tough time. I felt strong and brave. Look at your trauma/crisis and see what great traits it brought out. You are probably a lot braver, stronger and more resilient than ever before.
6. All trauma lead us to a new appreciation for life and everything in it. The small things like a sunset, reading a good book or taking a walk all have new meaning. The everyday becomes a miracle.
We all have the potential to grow from our experiences especially the negative ones. A lot of our circumstances are not in our control but how we respond and react always is.