Post Traumatic Growth: Personal Growth, Through Adversity

Nobody wants to live through a difficult life experience, and it's not exactly validating to be reminded of all the “silver linings” when you're going through something objectively hard. Whether it's leaving a toxic relationship, going through a divorce, losing someone you love, getting laid off, or dealing with something even worse, traumatic life events are real, and they hurt.

After you've lived something really painful, there will always be a need for healing in the aftermath. Good therapy can really help you put yourself back together again. But it's also true that there's actually more to the healing process besides just going back to baseline. Many people actually find that, when their healing process is complete, the difficult time they weathered ultimately transformed them in really positive ways.

Unfortunately, stories about the negative impact of trauma are the norm. We hear all about the terrible symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), like nightmares, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and substance abuse problems. We hear scary statistics about suicide and impairment from returning veterans, or the consequences of childhood abuse in the news.

If that's all you heard about, it would be easy to think that there is a bleak future for people who live through difficult things.

But that is not actually the case.

Post Traumatic Growth

In fact, what newer research is pointing to is a striking pattern of Post-Traumatic Growth in people who recover from trauma. While living through trauma is terrible, what also consistently happens is that the vast majority of those who recover identify their recovery work as resulting in overwhelmingly positive, meaningful, and powerful personal growth.

People on the other side of healing often describe feeling more grateful for small things, loving more deeply, and feeling that they have more depth and purpose in their lives. They feel that their relationships are more satisfying, and that they take more pleasure in life. Many also describe feeling that they are stronger, more compassionate, and more capable of love. Even more report having the belief that their lives transformed because of their trauma, creating beauty, strength, and meaning that they hadn't had before.

That doesn't sound terribly “broken,” does it? No. Research supports the fact that people's lives don't end because of tragedy. More often, they are actually reborn. People are resilient, and courageous, and inspiring — and the trajectory of their lives show it. They go on to write other chapters, have new experiences, and live and grow in ways that may not have been possible before.

Healing From Trauma

Let's also not minimize how profoundly terrible trauma is. Before you've successfully recovered from a traumatic life experience, it can be debilitating. When you're sitting in the painful aftermath of a horrific life experiencing, and coping with the awfulness of it, it feels impossible to consider even feeling okay, much less good.

It might even be hard to hear that there is a time “after” this, and that there may be more hope, purpose, self awareness, compassion, strength, and unconditional love than you can even imagine now. Especially if, right now, your work is to give yourself permission to not be okay and to feel the dark feelings that need to be felt. That can be an important part of the healing process too.

Once again, on The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, we'll be riding into the darkness together for the purpose of helping you find your way towards peace and healing. I want you to know that there is a path forward. You can move past the hurt, past the healing, and into growth. And I'm here to help.

We'll start by talking about trauma: How it happens, what it does to you, and how it's healed.

Taking Your Power Back

But wait, there's more.

No one's journey through recovering from trauma is the same. For some people healing happens through trauma-informed therapy. For others, self help or physical strategies ease the pain and open the door to healing. Yet others find peace through their work. For many, it's a combination of all of the above.

To talk about what Post-Traumatic Growth looks like in action, I've invited an incredibly inspiring special guest to join me for today's episode: stand up comedian Jo Kimbrell. Jo's own personal transformation was born out of trauma, and her journey of healing took her through yoga teacher training, writing, dream work, body work… and open-mike night in cigar bars.

Listen to Jo's story, hear her words of wisdom, and be inspired to bravely open the door to a new chapter for yourself, too.

Jo and I discuss many resources over the course of our conversation. Here are the links I promised to share with you:

Book: Dreams of Healing, by Kelly Bulkeley
Book: Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Herman
Assessment: The ACE Questionnaire

Hope all this helps you find your way forward, too.

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby