Everyone suffers from a traumatic experience. But how can we achieve post-traumatic growth? Let’s find out.
In the previous blog post, we discussed C-PTSD and its effects on relationships. We described elaborately the consequences of long-term traumatic experiences and how they can affect an individual’s life.
With the growing cases of disorders, it becomes difficult to cope up with the perils of psychological stress. Besides, the inability to confront these experiences adds salt to the wound.
But, trauma is, nevertheless, a psychological state, and we can cure it through proper treatment. However, our understanding of trauma is flawed, which makes us escape from it.
We are clueless about the whole point of traumatic experiences and the way they affect us. As a result, we end up believing that it’s difficult to rise past these stressful experiences.
But, it is possible to deal with them by accepting some important facts about our psychology. In other words, it is the ultimate realization of our conditions to become a better version of ourselves.
So, let’s find out how can we achieve post-traumatic growth.
You can also watch the video below by Charles Hunt at TEDxCharlotte to know more about trauma and resilience:
What is post-traumatic growth?
Before discussing how we can achieve post-traumatic growth, let’s first discuss what is post-traumatic growth.
The ability of an individual to not only cope up but rise past the traumatic experiences is called post-traumatic growth.
Therefore, it is possible to tackle our traumatic experiences when we rise past them to discover and enhance a new change in life. But, it is not easy to bounce back from them and requires a considerable intrapersonal effort.
For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic caused several people to undergo traumatic experiences. Many people suffered from negative thoughts, suicidal attempts, and heart attacks. However, some people were able to rise past them by focusing on some important lessons they gained after being exposed to their vulnerability.
It helped them come to terms with their lives and bring about a positive change. Post-traumatic growth affects some critical areas such as:
- Expressing gratitude towards life.
- Maintaining relationships with others.
- Exploring the dimensions of new possibilities.
- Recovering intrapersonal strength.
- Gaining spiritual maturity.
Two renowned psychologists Dr. Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, developed a model based on these five areas to see how patients view their perceptions about self, others, and the significance of events happening around them.
It, however, lead to some surprising conclusions, which we will discuss in the subsection below.
What is the reason behind post-traumatic growth?
It is important to know the reason behind post-traumatic growth. We must be aware of the ultimate understanding of trauma and how we can deal with it on a personal scale.
Generally, therapists offer practical solutions for many psychological disorders related to stress. However, while treating a patient suffering from trauma, they focus on experiential methods to deal with the underlying causes and effects of these experiences.
What we do is that we try to run away from the negative thoughts and try to find peace by neglecting them. But, it is where we are wrong as it is a short-term solution and doesn’t guarantee complete healing of the psychological wounds.
Besides, it adds baggage to low self-esteem and escaping tendencies.
Hence, we must try to face our fears and troubles to tackle negative thoughts and experiences. Psychologists believe that negative thoughts can be helpful if used constructively to come to terms with our true selves.
It can trigger intrapersonal knowledge in patients, and they feel that they are much stronger and braver than they know. Moreover, their perceptions change once they realize what is important to them.
The method of experiential learning is a great tool to engage in these positive and uplifting experiences. Besides, they also help in lifting a person’s morale.
Now let’s discuss ways to achieve post-traumatic growth.
How to achieve post-traumatic growth?
Growth is an inevitable part of life, and nothing can stop it from doing its job. Likewise, traumatic experiences do not stop post-traumatic growth.
Moreover, we can also apply methods to improve it. But, first, we need to understand what are the ways to achieve post-traumatic growth.
So, here are five ways to achieve post-traumatic growth.
- By coming to terms with our limitations.
- Through emotional regulation.
- By being honest and truthful about our experiences.
- Exploring and introspecting negative experiences.
- Empathizing and helping those who suffer from trauma.
1. By coming to terms with our limitations:
Limitations are a significant part of our lives. Most of us who have faced the negative experiences of the ongoing pandemic might have realized that humans have limitations.
Our beliefs and values about the evolution of humanity as the apex being were crushed when a microscopic virus was responsible for numerous deaths. As a result, we went through a stage of self-doubt and fear when we witnessed the effects of the virus on our lives.
In other words, we realized our limits. However, limiting ourselves to these limitations will only make us miserable. Therefore, we must come to terms with reality and embrace it to refine our core beliefs and understand the big-picture of the events.
We must take a positive stand against the trauma and prevent it from psychologically harming us.
2. Through emotional regulation:
Emotions influence most of our actions. In the case of traumatic experiences, our negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, and insecurity tend to disturb our emotional stability. Besides, we lose the ability to think rationally about possible outcomes.
Therefore, we must focus on the brighter side of things and think about the positive experiences of happiness and satisfaction. However, we can only do this by experiencing our negative emotions as it is and regulating them with a clear and sound mind.
Some physical exercises, such as dream yoga and meditation, help in emotional regulation. We can also encourage communication between various communities to tackle negative emotions.
3. By being honest and truthful about our experiences:
The negative experiences result in a lot of despair and sadness. However, neglecting things that concern us ultimately leads to depression and anxiety.
Therefore, we must be honest about our negative experiences and talk to the people who can handle this well. Moreover, it also helps us realize the implications of our behavior and the steps we need to take to ensure our growth.
4. Exploring and introspecting negative experiences:
Nothing is better than knowing and improving ourselves. It is a common experience for individuals who undergo life-changing events to employ critical thinking while making sense of the situations.
For instance, a person who merely earns a decent amount to kill his appetite realizes that his condition is already worse, and it isn’t going to be any more miserable. As a result, he has a lot of time to think about what he needs to change for a better life.
5. Empathizing and helping those who suffer from trauma:
It is better to help someone with trauma than just helping yourself. In other words, serving people with traumatic experiences helps you identify your weaknesses and limitations in dealing with the troubles. Besides, it also helps us treat others and empathize with them.
Hence, if you know someone who is undergoing trauma, you can help him rise past his misery to adopt a positive and optimistic outlook towards life.
To sum up, the effects of trauma can be life-changing and positive if we know how to deal with them constructively. Besides, the wisdom we gain from recognizing the darkness inside us helps in saving our individuality.
Therefore, if we employ the above-mentioned five ways to achieve post-traumatic growth, we can live a better and stress-free life.