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What is Post-Traumatic Growth and How Can It Impact Your Life?

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You can emerge stronger and more appreciative of life even after a trauma.

Can you imagine trauma or grief making you stronger, more compassionate or grateful than before?

You might have heard some people say that they are grateful that they went through adversity because it made them stronger. How did that sound to you? Did it make sense or did you scoff and say, “well, that’s nice for you, but my trauma/loss kicked my butt!”

There are times, believe it or not, when people go through traumatic experiences and after they feel bad for a while, they emerge with greater strength, appreciation, and other signs of personal growth. This article is not meant to minimize what you went through, but to let you know that post-traumatic growth (PTG) is possible and that it can be developed to cope with trauma and loss.

Where did the idea of Post-Traumatic Growth come from?

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) describes positive psychological changes or personal growth that can occur as a result of going through a traumatic or challenging experience. Unlike traditional views of trauma, which focus on negative outcomes like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other mental health issues, PTG emphasizes the potential to experience positive changes and personal development after experiencing adversity.

Psychologists Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun developed the concept of post-traumatic growth in the mid-1990s. It's important to note that posttraumatic growth does not diminish the pain and distress associated with traumatic events. It coexists with negative emotions and the challenges of dealing with trauma. In other words, people who have posttraumatic growth don't suffer any less, but they are able to develop positive qualities and experiences alongside the traumatic stress.

Some of the factors influencing posttraumatic growth include making meaning out of the trauma and how you process thoughts and emotions. Emotional regulation, social support, and certain personality traits also influence your ability to experience posttraumatic growth. If you are open to experience and resilient, this seems to promote PTG. Culture also plays a part, according to research on PTG.

What does post traumatic growth look like?

Him Post traumatic growth suggests that some individuals, in the aftermath of trauma, may experience the following types of positive changes:

Greater appreciation of life: If you survived a traumatic experience (including losing a loved one), you may develop a heightened appreciation for the value of life and a deeper sense of gratitude for what you have. In the case of grief, you may be grateful to have known the person you lost and all the benefits of having known them.

Improved relationships: You might have improved relationships with loved ones after a traumatic experience, as you might gain a new perspective on the importance of connection and support. After going through traumatic experiences, your perspective on what’s important changes and you might see some of the things you used to get angry or annoyed by are really not that big a deal after all.

Increased personal strength: Going through a trauma can lead to increased feelings of resilience, self-confidence, and a belief in one's ability to overcome challenges.

Enhanced personal growth: Trauma survivors may experience personal growth in various areas of their lives, such as gaining new insights, discovering a sense of purpose, or developing a greater sense of spirituality or meaning.

Positive change in priorities: Trauma can prompt individuals to reevaluate their priorities and make significant life changes, such as pursuing new goals, changing careers, or adopting healthier lifestyles.

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Post traumatic growth can improve your relationships and enhance your appreciation of life.

Not everyone develops post traumatic growth

It's important to note that not everyone who goes through trauma will necessarily experience post-traumatic growth. The process can vary widely from person to person. Additionally, post-traumatic growth doesn't negate the very real and difficult challenges that you may have faced. It’s just a way to acknowledge that some trauma/loss survivors are able to find positive meaning and personal development in the aftermath of adversity.

If you would like to explore how traumatic events or loss experiences have impacted your life, for better or worse, please call me at 661-233-6771.

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