If you’ve experienced something traumatic – regardless of what form it takes – you might feel like you will never be happy again. However, many therapists have identified people who have the unique ability to find positivity after undergoing trauma. While post-traumatic stress disorder is a genuine and extremely troubling psychological problem, there’s another side of the coin: post-traumatic growth. If you’re working through a traumatic life event, how can you use it to your benefit?
What Is Post-Traumatic Growth?
Many who experience trauma – such as living through a natural disaster, the loss of a loved one or the diagnosis of a chronic illness – discover a wellspring of inner strength in the aftermath of the traumatic event. Psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun coined the term “post-traumatic growth” to describe this phenomenon, defining it as a positive psychological change experienced after someone endures challenging, frightening or dangerous circumstances.
Here are some ideas for demonstrating personal growth in the wake of trauma.
- If someone robbed you or broke into your house, organize a neighborhood watch group to make your community a safer place to live.
- If you experienced a sexual assault, you might find renewed purpose in advocating for fellow rape survivors, urging local hospitals to provide rape kits.
- Reframe the event as something that helped forge you as a person. Say to yourself, “If I made it through that, I can handle whatever life throws at me.”
- Be more grateful for what you have.
- Demonstrate compassion for others.
Overcoming Your Traumatic Experience
People who have experienced a deeply troubling event often lose their motivation and self-confidence. However, the flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive memories associated with PTSD are not an inevitable outcome of trauma. Knowing about post-traumatic growth gives you a way to find new meaning, purpose and passion in life.
As with any form of growth, healing from trauma takes time, patience and consistent effort. Ask yourself this: Would you prefer to view your trauma as a tragedy that makes you a victim, or as an event that eventually empowers you to become a better person?
Finding Happiness After Trauma
Trauma can profoundly affect many aspects of your life, but it doesn’t have to be entirely negative. You can pick up the pieces and put them back together in a way that brings you peace and spirituality. If you developed a troublesome relationship with drugs or alcohol after a traumatic experience, holistic treatment can be a valuable part of your healing process.
At Vista Taos, we have combined the benefits of evidence-based addiction recovery with complementary services such as acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy to teach our clients how to find inner calm. We believe you deserve to discover your best self after trauma and addiction. Reach out to us to verify your insurance coverage and learn more about recovering in beautiful Taos, New Mexico.