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Updated: Jun 21, 2021

“We know something that we didn’t before the blow came; that we can survive it.” - Anonymous

Recovering from a trauma, is undoubtedly one of the toughest and bravest thing one can go through, but post traumatic growth is an even more essential, more important part of the trauma recovery- the process of rebuilding, growing, bit by bit, piece by piece, till you blossom into whole again, a slow and gradual process.

According to Matt McWilliams, “Trauma doesn’t have to defeat you. It can be a perfect opportunity for growth. Don’t just make a comeback. Use it as a catalyst forward.”

The idea of post traumatic growth is simple, you grow out even more strong, positive and resilient than before. You don’t just overcome your trauma, you make it a source of your empowerment.

Positive Psychology plays a big role in post traumatic growth.

It is a positive change which results from a traumatic event, an example of post traumatic growth is the story of Marissa F. Cohen, best-selling author of Breaking Through the Silence; The Journey to Surviving Sexual Assault, and the founder and CEO of Within Your Reach. She took her trauma and created a life out of it in the most positive way she could think of; by using it to help others. Her overall goal is to transform the world for warriors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

In a study done by Eyal Haroosh and Sara Freedman on Post traumatic growth and recovery from addiction, they found that social support is the only significant predictor of PTG as it is directly related with social support. It is the key concept in PTG development, and there is clear evidence that it helps mitigate the negative effects of traumatic events

There are mainly 5 areas of post traumatic growth as found by Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun in the mid 1990s–

® Personal strength: It means gaining strength in a positive form, by engaging yourself in meditation, sports, any activity that you enjoy. It becomes a form of mindfulness. A self motivating thought emerges too, “if I can go through that, I can overcome anything”

® Strengthening relationships with others: Reach out to your loved ones for strength and support. Don’t shy away in reaching out to professionals; maybe even engage yourself in voluntary community service programs. The more you are in human contact, the more at ease you will be in overcoming your trauma. Some people experience closer relationships with some specific people, and they can also experience an increased sense of connection to others who suffer.

® New perspectives on life: You may start finding things that you liked before suddenly boring, and find new things to interesting. Don’t shy away, embrace those, welcome them to your life and focus on how your time and energy spent on these changes reflects on your life.

® Appreciation of life: Trauma may bring you face to face with many difficulties of life, because of which you start appreciating the gifts of life, the small oohs and aahs of life which you might’ve taken granted earlier, and lastly;

® Spirituality: “Post traumatic growth points to those places that become strong through exposure and experience. It may not be a painless process, but seeking opportunities for growth can help create a deeper sense of love, connection, and meaning in our lives”, says Lisa Danylchuk, a Topic Expert

It is important to realize that Post-traumatic growth doesn’t happen instead of post-traumatic stress. It doesn’t make trauma any less traumatic; Tedeschi and Calhoun don’t suggest that trauma is a positive life event. And the road from trauma to growth is hardly a straight line.

Authors Christine and Judith shared that the most important factor of PTG, social support, is when an individual enters a self-help program, they are by definition seeking help. Seeking help indicates a readiness to accept assistance and a basic commitment to undergo change and that is pretty much the building block of post traumatic growth.

Zander Sprague is another shining example of post-traumatic growth. His sister was brutally murdered yet, after an initial period of deep grief, he has bounced back better than ever. At a recent Grief Coach Academy event, Zander acknowledged that coaching helped him transform his loss into service to others. His book “Making Lemonade” helps other sibling survivors. To honor his sister’s memory, he’s now chosen a career as a coach and speaker, so that he can help others choose a positive pathway. […]

Post traumatic growth can be considered as a result as well as a process.

Simply put, you don’t bounce back, but leap forward from your trauma.

It is about maintaining a sense of hope and belief that a person can not only survive the trauma but they can also gain positive life changes as a result.

After all, it is not just the event that defines post traumatic growth but what is able to develop from within the person and the people around them.

-Simran Singh

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