Have You Heard of Post-Traumatic Growth?

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Most people are familiar with the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD)– the condition that can occur after someone experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event.  It might be an accident, a disease, a loss, etc. The result can be debilitating stress and fear that make it difficult for someone to function normally in their everyday life.  What may surprise you is that people who have a traumatic event in their lives are more likely to experience “post-traumatic growth (PTG).”  These people discover a renewed appreciation for life and find life easier and more enjoyable than before, yet few people have ever heard of this term.

There are often three ways in which people improve:

  1. Better relationships. For example, they may value their friends and family more and feel an increased sense of compassion for others.
  2. See themselves differently. For example, they may feel they have personal strength and resilience while accepting their weaknesses and limitations.
  3. Changes in their life philosophy. For example, they may feel appreciation for each new day with a better ability to live in the present and re-evaluate their priorities and values in life.

Just to be clear, this does NOT mean that these people bypass the suffering and pain before finding a different path.  It means they don’t get stuck there.  They overcome the downward spiral and find a way to grow and learn.

Does this sound familiar? Can you think of past ordeals in your own life that have made you stronger, wiser, and more compassionate? They may have been gut-wrenching in the moment, but maybe you look back now and see them as a “gift” in disguise.

Why is knowing about post-traumatic growth important?  There is a theory that if more people were aware of this possibility, more people would have the hope needed to rise above their fear and anxiety after an event.  Statistically, there is a good chance that all of us will have a traumatic experience in our lives, so let’s be prepared.  For more information and inspiring stories, check out PostTraumaticGrowth.com.

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