• A devastating diagnosis
• An abrupt job loss
• A major injury
• A shocking and sudden death
These traumatic events can happen to anyone regardless of age, wealth, race, or gender. You might think that you can imagine how you might respond when it happens to you but imagination and reality are not the same. When it does happens to you, the pain is transformative. There is you BEFORE and then there is you AFTER – and those YOUs are different.
What follows these events is referred to as ‘post-traumatic-stress’ and many studies now indicate what may follow is a period called ‘post-traumatic-growth.’ Apparently, it is often a trauma that proceeds personal growth. The term post-traumatic growth (PTG) has been defined as the experience of positive change resulting from the struggle with major life crises.
The August 3rd 2015 issue of Time Magazine reports that an estimated 75% of people will experience some kind of traumatic event in their lifetime and that the majority of those who go through a distressing life event report a positive growth change and greater strength, as well as closer ties with family and friends allowing them to reorient their lives towards more fulfilling life goals.
Trauma shatters perceptions and the world we assume we lived in has now irrevocably changed. It can however also reveal a strength that was hidden or underutilized before. Initially, those who experience may find themselves feeling isolated, but rather than ignore or race past the grief and pain, evidence suggests that many people regroup and restructure their lives as a result of the reflection that takes place after a traumatic event. While no one reaches out to embrace pain, working hard to avoid pain at all costs is an illusion that rarely can be held up over a lifetime.
It is important to understand that growth experiences after a traumatic event does not make everything in life better and stress does not vanish. However it can provide a different meaning and purpose to someone’s life. Many people become more focused on bigger issues like wisdom and values.
It appears that suffering serves as a catalyst.
Therefore, I work to appreciate the good times, knowing I am fortunate to have these moments to savor. I try to recognize the important, understand what is truly trivial, and remember what and who is really important to me. I appreciate that when difficult things happen in my life, those things are not ALL of my life. And I hope that I keep that in mind when I interact with others.