In the third post in my series explaining how to add 10 years to your life, we’ll discuss Post-Traumatic Growth. Post-traumatic growth has been somewhat ignored, existing in the shadow of its more tragic cousin, post-traumatic stress. So what is post-traumatic growth and how can it help us to add 10 years to our lives?
Post-Traumatic Growth Defined
Post-traumatic Growth is the positive psychological change experienced as a result of a struggle with challenging life circumstances that represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual and/or an individual’s way of understanding the world and one’s their place in it.
It is an experience of improvement that for some is deeply profound.
~ Dr. Darlene Powell Garlington
Major life crises, like separation and divorce, can trigger post-traumatic growth as the individual attempts to adapt to the negative circumstances and emotional distress. Growth is not an outcome of the trauma itself, rather growth results from the person’s struggle to deal with the fallout of the trauma. How you deal with issues such as living alone, financially supporting yourself, and navigating the role of single parent will impact your post-traumatic growth. It’s important to note that growth and pain/loss can co-exist in the individual during the aftermath of the trauma.
People who experience post-traumatic growth often say they would not want to go through it again but that they are stronger for the experience. Changes they show post-trauma are:
- greater appreciation of life
- changes in priorities
- more intimate relationships
- greater personal strength
- recognition of new paths for their lives
- spiritual development
Personal characteristics that aid in the likelihood of post-traumatic growth are extraversion, openness to experience, disengagement from unsolvable problems, ability to grieve, a support system, and optimism.
How does this all tie in with adding 10 years to your life? The growth experienced gives us the strength, or resilience, to know we can bounce back after a trauma. We will be OK no matter what life throws at us.
This talk is the basis for the following posts: