Resilience_yellow flower growing from a crack in a stone wall

Writing about the hero’s journey inspired me to continue with this positive theme and talk about Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG).

“Trauma creates a rupture in a person’s life story. Assumptions about ourselves, our place in world, and our expectations about the world are shaken, even shattered.”

… says Stephen Joseph, Ph.D. I think many of us would agree that he summed it up very well. It can be hard to believe that anything good can come of this, until you understand or experience PTG.

What is PTG? Post-traumatic growth happens when adversity leads us to a new and more meaningful life, one where we re-evaluate our priorities, deepen relationships, and come to a new understanding of who we are. Post-traumatic growth goes beyond coping. It’s about “changes that cut to the very core of our way of being in the world.”

You may feel at this point that your ordeal was too terrible to ever recover from, and that going even further to experience positive growth from it is out of the question. But it is possible. PTG does not suggest that you aren’t suffering as your wisdom grows. In fact, significant distress might be necessary for PTG to occur. Research shows a correlation between PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and PTG, “suggesting that the disruption caused by the trauma is significant enough to create psychiatric symptoms and “shattering” enough to  your “assumptive world view” to generate growth. (Melinda Moore, “Positive Changes in the Aftermath of Crisis”) <!– [if gte mso 9]>

Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says “Very often, extremely bad events lead to personal and moral dilemmas. And they’re existential crises in which you have to make decisions. We talk about it as a fork in the road. One of the most interesting things about depression, which is the big, big component of post traumatic stress disorder, it is an emotion that tells you to detach from goals you had. That they’re unreachable. And that creates a fork in the road. It makes you ask the question, what other things might I do? What doors might open for me?”

So what are the top things expressed by people who have experienced PTG? According to Jane McGonigal in her awesome TED talk, they say:

“My priorities have changed. I’m not afraid to do what makes me happy. I feel closer to my friends and family. I understand myself better. I know who I really am now. I have a new sense of meaning and purpose in my life. I’m better able to focus on my goals and dreams.” 

♥ I hope you will experience post-traumatic GROWTH.


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