How is it that some people end up thriving after a dramatic difficulty or even trauma? That is the question researchers are asking as they study Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). We are all familiar with the term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but few are aware of what some call Super Survivors – those people who actually get better and move in an improved positive direction after a trauma.
Here are a few of the principles that have been observed in PTGers.
They grieve well. Studies show that those who eventually show improvement after a trauma, have first grieved their loss deeply. They don’t ignore the pain or put on rose colored glasses. They recognize the hurt or loss and don’t dismiss their sadness.
They ask hopeful questions. As they grieve, they also begin looking for glimmers of hope in the form of questions. They may ask, “Given my new set of circumstances, how can I make the best of this?” Or, “How can I grow and learn from this?” Or, “Is their a way I can use this experience to improve someone else’s life?”
They use their pain to help others. Often a PTGer will take pro-active steps to start an organization or interest group to benefit and strengthen others as a result of their experience. This not only gives them new vigor in life, but it helps them heal and feel purposeful.
They are thankful. Although they are not thankful for the pain, they are able to find reasons to be grateful for what they have experienced. They may be thankful that they grew stronger or that they were able to find meaning in life or discover a new life purpose as a result of their trauma.
Whether we are going through a life-jolting trauma or simply a heavy disappointment, we can learn from these principles to help us discover an element of positive in our pain. Some have said that PTG should stand for “Put Trust in God.” Interestingly, studies show that many PTGers rely on their faith or find their faith strengthened through the difficulties. In Psalms we read David’s words, “God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in time of need.” May each of us be strengthened by the comfort and hope He brings.
You can read stories of PTGers in my book, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.