I recently did a 5-part series on my FB page* about Post Traumatic Growth, and then I realized some folks would rather read it then look at my mug, so this blog is for you!
Disclaimer: If I write about Post Traumatic Growth, I am in NO WAY slighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. That sh*& is real and I have seen it firsthand. You all know by now I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I use my story of losing two brothers to suicide as a way of bringing hope to those who may feel hopeless due to a mental health condition. Well this journey has me telling my story at a homeless shelter from time to time and on one visit I was talking to a young veteran about his PTSD in the courtyard of this facility when a car on the street backfired and this vet just about jumped out of his skin. His heart rate accelerated, and he started to sweat. PTSD is real, and I use this veteran as an example, but PTSD does not have to be a military thing only. We just need a trauma to occur and unfortunately, we all have them. With that said, I just want to visit the other side of the coin and talk about some growth that may occur after a traumatic event…. that is all. Look no deeper than that as I am not a deep man. Disclaimer done!
Post Traumatic Growth
Most of what I have learned about Post Traumatic Growth, or PTG from here on out because I hate typing, is from the good folks at UNC-Charlotte* and their Posttraumatic Growth Research Group. After you are done reading this quick blog you can look them up, but not now. I’m still typing, and I still hate it, so stay with me.
A great place to start is with a definition of PTG which is simply put as positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Have you ever met a person that seems to have all their ducks in a row and their life looks amazing then you hear their story and you are left wondering “How are they still standing?” Well they took their trauma and grew from it and the idea that human beings can be changed by their encounters with life challenges, sometimes in radically positive ways, is not new. We’ve all heard the saying “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” This quote is attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, but personally I like the way Kelly Clarkson used this phrase in her hit song Stronger!
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
Ok, I’m back from YouTube! Love that song and know this my friend, we get stronger after a period of weakness which could be viewed as suffering or grief, but it is the way the body and brain copes and it is working for you, not against you in PTG. Here is the bummer with PTG—distress is typical when we face traumatic events and not everyone will experience this growth. In fact, many will feel the opposite and can and will experience weakness after a trauma…but we still go on and pray for growth.
If PTG does occur, here is what you can expect in 5 general areas:
- New Opportunities May Emerge from The Struggle.
- Closer Relationships with Some Specific People May Occur.
- You May Experience an Increased Sense Of One’s Strength.
- You May Develop A Greater Appreciation for Life In General.
- You May Experience A Deepening of Your Spiritual Life.
Traumatic events suck. No way to sugarcoat it, they just do and it is my hope and prayer that you have ZERO traumatic events in your life. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Now my other prayer is this, if you face a traumatic event may you grow from it. No guarantees here, but I truly hope you experience some form of growth from your trauma. You will never get over it, you will get through it. You will get through it. Peace.
*My FB page: www.facebook.com/DennisGillanSpeaker/