Post-Traumatic Growth

“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 post-traumatic growth.

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. I know all too well what it’s like to feel that way. 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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4 thoughts on “Post-Traumatic Growth”

  1. DawnRae

    I experienced that PTG and I hear for first time that exist. For me was not easy to describe the feeling and how I got a positive aftermath of the devastating relationship with a psychopath. The pain and sufference somehow added a contrast into my life I never had before and it made me feel more strong and intense the positive emotions and to see more clear my blessings. The blissful feeling of happiness somehow didn’t add up with the previous turmoil of the relationship and also of the healing journey. But it’s there and it can be experienced by everyone. I had no way to explain it to my fellow survivors and I said it has similar to the experience close to death aftermath. Same awakening and empowering,same losing the fear and anxiety and same profound change of the same root development of the soul. I am happy that I got that as aftermath,but not PTSS or PTSD. I hope it will last long and will light my life forever.

    1. Admin

      That’s wonderful to hear. I’m sure it will last a long time, and serve you well in all kinds of challenging situations. You’re right, it is close to a near-death experience. It changes everything. Thanks for your comment. All the best to you!

  2. Dekyi

    Great article. I feel that growth from trauma is analogues with the buddhist concept of the lotus flower springing forth from the murky mud of suffering. I think that we all experience PTG continually throughout our lives, some more so than others. I also believe that the more PTG we experience the more resilient we become. I really enjoy reading your work, thank you!

    1. Admin

      Resilience is a wonderful thing. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m truly glad to hear them.

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