Post-Traumatic Growth: What Is It & How Can It Help Me?

People can have significantly different responses to experiencing any type of trauma. Some of them might struggle with post-traumatic stress or relationship disorder for a long time. Others will find a way to cope through various defense mechanisms, some unhealthy, some constructive. Those who manage to emerge from traumatic events enriched by their own strength and healing capabilities can experience post-traumatic growth.

While some are left with post-traumatic flashbacks, fears, anxiety, depression, and the inability to trust others and view the world as anything but a dangerous, scary place, there’s another side to these experiences. It will undoubtedly depend on the personal characteristics of each individual, the type of trauma they went through, the support they get, and other circumstances. However, overcoming trauma and coming out of it with a sense of personal growth is not uncommon either.

What is post-traumatic growth?

Post-traumatic growth is usually described as a positive transformation after experiencing and working through specific traumas. This theory, developed by psychologists, suggests that individuals who manage to endure and fight through emotional and psychological struggle following a traumatic experience or a prolonged period of adversity can emerge from it transformed and enriched by the strength they found within themselves. Naturally, not all people have an equal predisposition to handle trauma in such a positive way.

Studies suggest that people who are more extroverted and generally open to new experiences are more likely to be able to transform their trauma treatment into something meaningful and positive. It takes an active approach in their response to trauma to be able to reconsider and change belief systems, thought patterns, and behavior. Extroverts are also more likely to seek help from others, be more open, and share the details of the traumatic events or circumstances they were subjected to.

Another essential factor pertaining to post-traumatic growth could be an individual’s age. Young children lack the cognitive capacity to determine or change their worldview. Instead, they’re mainly led by emotions, and the negative, scary ones can become deeply ingrained if a traumatic event is experienced during childhood. Moreover, those deep-seated traumas typically carry over to adulthood and significantly influence relationships with other people, including the closest friends, family, and romantic partners.

What are the characteristics of post-traumatic growth?

People who go through these types of experiences might also develop changed perceptions and understanding of themselves and the world. Post-traumatic growth can also influence the way they relate to other people. Becoming more sensitive and sympathetic to other people’s hardships is also one of the positive characteristics of post-traumatic growth. And, the growth that helps you form closer and more meaningful relationships starts with the relationship you have with yourself.

Post-traumatic growth happens when people experience an event that forces them to change their beliefs so significantly that they change their perception of themselves and their worldview. These changes can be so profound and lifelong. Of course, not everybody with a traumatic experience will experience post-traumatic growth. Many people are capable of overcoming trauma, but there’s a difference between resilience and overcoming challenging circumstances and actual spiritual change. One of the main characteristics of post-traumatic growth is the ability to reflect and shift one’s perspective.

overcoming trauma

What are the positive effects of post-traumatic growth?

Going through post-traumatic growth is challenging and might take longer than you’d like, but its benefits are life-changing. If you embark on this journey of self-discovery and reclaiming your sense of agency and self-worth, you can:

  • Rediscover appreciation for life. Nothing makes people appreciate all the good things in life like being confronted with loss. This is when we realize how often we overlook or undervalue everything we have.
  • Improve relationships with others. Strengthening relationships with people usually happens as a form of support after a traumatic experience. It can lead to building new relationships with people who can offer support through challenging times and trauma victims with similar experiences. It can also make you grateful for those already present in your life. Crises are generally bonding experiences, however difficult and painful they might be.
  • Open to new possibilities in life. This is about adapting to new and unique circumstances and accepting the fact that some of your old habits and strategies don’t serve you anymore. Finding a new path in life and, more importantly, discovering the motivation to do so can present a massive opportunity for personal growth.
  • Find personal strength. You might surprise yourself with your own resilience and skills to handle trauma. You will also be better equipped to deal with any future challenges.
  • Experience spiritual change. Being spiritual doesn’t come naturally to all people. Some individuals are deeply pragmatic and quick to dismiss anything beyond the material world. Change happens when they experience emotional hardship that makes their world crumble. This is a true challenge to one’s core beliefs that could lead anyone to existential contemplations. However, changing for the better shouldn’t come out of fear. Instead, being more ethical, empathetic, and kind can come as a natural result of the previous effects.

Can post-traumatic growth positively affect my relationship?

All the benefits of post-traumatic growth can help you understand your needs better and take the time and effort to respond to the needs of others. You can bring your newfound optimism and appreciation for life into your relationship and make your partner feel more special and appreciated. You can feel and show that you’re thankful for having them and advance your relationship in new directions you may not have thought of before. Expressing your love and not fearing rejection is also immensely liberating and possible with your newly discovered strength and self-reliance.

Strengthening and deepening the connection in your relationships can make everyday interactions and minor conflicts easier to handle. As your self-image improves, so will the belief that you’re worthy of love. This confidence can help you resolve any potential ambivalence or unhealthy attachment. If you’ve been caught in a toxic or abusive relationship, you can finally find the determination and strength to leave it behind. You will know that you deserve better and won’t allow yourself to settle for unfulfilling relationships or manipulative partners.

trauma treatment

Achieve Personal Growth By Overcoming Trauma With PIVOT’s Help

The most important thing about post-traumatic growth is allowing yourself to believe and understand that it’s possible. Achieving post-traumatic growth doesn’t mean minimizing anyone’s pain and its significant impact on their lives. It certainly involves addressing unpleasant emotions and reliving experiences you might want to forget. However, this challenging process is also highly rewarding.

Sharing your story with people who went through similar experiences can be profoundly liberating and healing. You can rely on the guidance of our highly trained coaches in relaxing and intimate Glass House workshops. Individual sessions with PIVOT’s relationship advocates are also an option for those who don’t feel comfortable in group settings. Whatever option you choose, you can rest assured that our experts will safely lead you to healthier relationships through personal growth.

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