Trauma can bring about a tremendous amount of growth in your life, if you're willing to embrace it. While many people want to focus on its negative impact and the symptoms of PTSD there is such a thing as Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). This is the psychological benefits a person can experience when choosing to grow through their PTSD. It can happen in 5 main areas:
- Opening yourself to new possibilities that you hadn't thought of or considered in the past
- Experiencing deeper relationships
- Taking note of your own strength and resilience
- Having a greater appreciation of life overall
- Deepening your spiritual beliefs
Who's More Likely to Experience PTG
- Definition of growth
- Openness to experience growth
- Inclination towards being extroverted (possibly because the person is more active in response to their trauma since they're connected to other people)
- Age (with people in late adolescence and early adulthood being more open)
- Genetics (whether a person is predisposed to things like panic disorder and anxiety)
Strategies to Encourage PTG
- Mindfulness has been shown to change your brain for the better by shrinking the amygdala (the fear center) which typically becomes enlarged after a trauma, resulting in flashbacks, anxiety, and panic.
- You can't suffer in silence, you must acknowledge your wounds and be vulnerable to them. This includes communicating openly about it, admitting your fears, and getting professional help.
- It's important to have a trauma-informed therapist help you experience self-compassion and loving kindness instead. Only then will you be able to reconnect with the part of your self that's been wounded.
- You need to make meaning from reflecting on your trauma. This is because when you have a reason to live you can find the "how."
- Maintaining a gratitude journal will help you feel more satisfied, optimistic, and content with your life. You'll also have more energy, be in a better mood, and sleep better.
- Taking a holistic approach to your trauma (including goal setting, energy management, problem solving, and assertive communication) will make you more robust and help you be better able to cope more effectively with the problems in your life. This is because you'll have the tools you need to maintain strong relationships.
- Remember you're not alone. You need to find yourself a good support system - one that doesn't gloss over your wounds, but encourages you to focus on your strengths.