Wouldn’t it be great if we all could just grow and develop when life is mostly rainbows and unicorns? If that were the case I think we’d all sign up for that reality right now! The truth is that sometimes our moments of transformational growth occur after bad things happen to us in life.
But don’t just take my word for it. This concept is an actual psychological phenomenon discovered by two renowned psychologists, Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, in the mid 90’s.
They called it Post-Traumatic Growth.
Simply put, it’s positive psychological change as a result of adversity and other challenges that leads to a higher level of functioning.
And believe it or not, it can actually change our DNA….like flipping certain switches on or off. We now know this through epigenetic studies.
It turns out there are 4 primary factors that often lead a person to experience post-traumatic growth:
- Brutally honest optimism – this is having a reduced sense of helplessness by confronting the most brutal facts of your current reality
- Perception of Control Over Events – this is regaining control through primary control (taking action to change a situation) or secondary control (changing your orientation to the situation)
- Coping Style – the best approach is acceptance and positive reinterpretation
- Strong Sense of Self – this is making sense of your story, even the parts that suck
So why is this topic so important to me?
Well, I’ve experienced post-traumatic growth in my own life. When I was 10 my grandpa took his own life. This set me on a path to become a psychologist. Three years ago I came up a day short of delivering a hand-written letter to my mother before she passed away from cancer. I had the letter written to give her at our Christmas celebration…but she slipped into a coma the night before I saw her. The letter now sits on my desk as a reminder everyday to not be a day late in doing what’s most important. This inspired me to help co-found a software company called Dulead that focuses on helping people become the best version of themselves, including showing appreciation on a daily basis.
I still live with the grief and regret every single day. But those four factors (brutally honest optimism, regaining control, accepting and reinterpreting, and making sense of my story) all helped me to take that pain and do something positive with it.
It’s my small way of trying to help folks not come up a day short like I did with my mom.
Whatever your story is, we’re all unique in how we adapt and respond to traumatic events. But there are some common signs that often point toward post-traumatic growth in your own life. Here are a few:
✅ Deeper appreciation of life
✅ Deeper relationships with others
✅ Seeing new possibilities in life
✅ Discovering personal strength
✅ Spiritual change
I challenge you today to pause, be thankful, and reflect on the #growth you’ve experienced during some challenging times in your life!
After all, the hardest times can often lead to the greatest moments in our lives!