Post traumatic growth and wellbeing

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Fertile ground for positive change

We have previously proposed the concept that the Pandemic presented a unique opportunity. We questioned, whether our communities, as a collective, could possibly view the Pandemic’s disruption as an opportunity to pro-actively work on building their mental health and resilience?

So, as you can imagine, when we discovered a recent article where the leading positive psychologists in Australia explored this very idea, we were very excited. Further explore this concept with us.

Do keep in perspective, the general understanding that suffering and distress can be possible sources of positive change is thousands of years old. For example, some of the early ideas and writings of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and early Christians, as well as some of the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam contain elements of the potentially transformative power of suffering.

You may be familiar with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), however are you familiar with Post-traumatic Growth (PTG)? 

Affording ourselves optimistic licence, is it too much to consider our ongoing situation as extremely fertile ground for collective growth?

Well, the world’s top Psychologists on this topic certainly do think we’re currently in fertile ground for personal growth.

Can Post-Traumatic growth be measured?

To evaluate whether, and to what extent, someone has achieved growth after a trauma, psychologists use a variety of self-report scales. One that was developed by Tedeschi and Calhoun is the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) (Journal of Traumatic Stress, 1996). It looks for positive responses in five areas:

  • Appreciation of life.
  • Relationships with others.
  • New possibilities in life.
  • Personal strength.
  • Spiritual change.

This scale is being revised to add new items that will expand the “spiritual change” domain, says Tedeschi. This is being done “to incorporate more existential themes that should resonate with those who are more secular” as well as reflect cross-cultural differences in perceptions of spirituality.

Want to be best prepared for stressful events

Ideally, you want to be best prepared to respond to any external challenges. 

Dr Martin Seligman (Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Centre) found that with the right support and a positive process, for approaching and responding to trauma, individuals can readily enjoy PTG.

To support this outcome, taking stock of your mindset before you have to respond to a traumatic or stressful event can ensure you will have a higher resiliency to it. 

Below is a practical list of questions to support you to form a self-audit of your current levels of resilience and emotional hardiness. 

  • What psychological skills do you possess that can help you cope right now?

  • Constantly seek out opportunities to enhance your psychological knowledge and skills. 

  • What are your beliefs and assumptions about the current situation? This shapes your understanding and response to this situation, so be mindful and self-compassionate.
  • Your reaction to a new reality, in the aftermath of a traumatic event, determines the extent to which post-traumatic growth occurs.
  • You need to mindfully appreciate your new reality, even though you may not like it. Positively consider what it offers in your broader life context.

Want to explore things further? Contact us to identify your most effective course of action for being mentally tougher.

Related articles

Check out these resources that relate to the concept of resilience, mental toughness, and Grit.

The 8 Factors of Mental Toughness

How to Reliably Develop Mental Toughness

Growth Mindset – Life-Long Learning and Achievement

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