Failures, challenges, and mistakes… they happen to the best of us. Here’s a new way of thinking about the bad things that happened to us. It is a concept called:
Post Traumatic Growth: (PTG) The positive mental shift experienced as a result of adversity.
We hear a lot about the devastating effects of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but researchers Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun uncovered a phenomenon that can happen after someone experiences trauma. They found that people often report ways in which their psychological functioning increases after they have experienced a challenge. In other words, in certain circumstances, our mind can grow from difficulty.
Tedeschi found that across a wide range of negative experiences, as many as 90% of survivors report at least one Post Traumatic Growth benefit.
From Trauma to Post Traumatic Growth
If you have experienced a trauma or major adversity (and who hasn’t), you can begin to move forward. Here are a few elements that can contribute to Post Traumatic Growth.
Step One: Feel Deep
Notice, without judgment your response to the adversity itself. You have to go through a difficult emotional processing period before bouncing forward. You can think of this like grief—you have to be able to mourn and feel before moving on. Explore the pain and sadness of your challenge as a natural part of adversity. This takes courage and grit all essential qualities of growth.
Step Two: Constructive Self-Disclosure
Researchers have found that we have to share and talk about our adversity to process it fully. They call this constructive self-disclosure. Bottling up any trauma often leads to a worsening of symptoms. Find a safe group or dependable confidant (and, yes, your pets, journaling or colorful finger painting all count) where you can share your story and the effects of your challenge. Verbalizing your thoughts help them move out of your headspace and into the ether where their energy can move along.
Step Three: Personal Strengths
Look at how your personal strengths got you through the trauma. How did you handle it and what have you learned from the experience? Consider this personal strength and how it will now propel you through whatever challenge you face now.
When the hard times are before you, remember that your resiliency is a strong and flexible muscle that will support you, no matter the circumstances. Remain focused on the possible positive outcomes instead of the imagined “worse case scenario.”