By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Surviving a trauma can damage you or make you grow.
Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) But it’s important to know that not everyone who experiences trauma is affected in the same way. Some people recover from traumas quickly, and they never experience a stress disorder. Other people deal with stress in one way or another, and over time that effect diminishes. Therapy, both professional and the self-help variety, can be useful in limiting the impact of trauma.
Some people, however, not only survive the trauma but grow as a result. It’s useful to know that the way you think about the trauma can determine whether your life is ruined or you develop a new sense of meaning and purpose. Look at this quote from Victor Frankel.
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” —Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.
The concept of posttraumatic growth hasn’t gotten the attention it needs.
Sometimes, I can’t tell you how often, as a result of experiencing trauma, people experience sudden, dramatic growth. They learn new things about themselves and redefine themselves.
“Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun coined the term “posttraumatic growth” to capture this phenomenon, defining it as the positive psychological change that is experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances.”
There are seven ways in which adversity may result in sudden growth.
1. Adversity may create a greater appreciation of life.
Some people who have experienced a traumatic life experience report that afterward, they are glad to be alive. Having had a challenging experience may shift your vision from what’s wrong in your life to noticing all the positive blessings you have.
2. Surviving a traumatic event makes you appreciate the relationships you have.
After a trauma, some people have a greater appreciation for their relationships. Friends are more valued, and conflicts with family seem less important. Within a second chance at life, trauma survivors may decide to put more time and effort into their relationships.
3. You might experience increased compassion and altruism.
If you have experienced a traumatic event yourself, it’s easier to empathize with other people and what they are going through. Part of the healing process may be being of service to others who have gone through or are going through similar challenges.
4. You might identify new possibilities or a new purpose in life.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of life, thinking your struggles will never end. But, surviving a traumatic experience can be an opportunity to reevaluate what you’re doing and why. In the aftermath of traumatic experiences, people suddenly are open to new possibilities or discover a new purpose for their life.
5. You may become more aware of personal strengths.
Struggling with a challenge may make you realize all the other strengths you have. As people go through rehabilitation and recovery, they may become aware of a great many underutilized strengths.
6. Surviving trauma may result in enhanced spiritual development.
Even the most skeptical person may discover they have relied on their spiritual connection to get through the traumatic experience. Many trauma survivors report a renewal and rededication to their spiritual and religious beliefs.
7. Creative growth may be a result of traumatic experiences.
Negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, and grief, are common responses to trauma. Trying to avoid those emotions can lead to emotional numbness and avoidance. Getting stuck in the trauma can make things worse. What you focus on, you get more of, and concentrated on the pain inhibits your ability to see the positive in life.
Creative people and particularly creative people who have always been too busy to express themselves in creative ways may find that after a traumatic experience, they feel the need to express themselves in innovative ways. Sometimes challenging experiences are the catalyst for taking chances you have been avoiding.
Have you experienced trauma in your life? Has it been a source of growth for you?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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