You’ve probably heard the saying “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (a paraphrase of Nietzsche). That came to mind last week reading “How To Find Meaning In Suffering,” an article in Scientific American.
Psychology research shows five things help people turn the result of crisis into post traumatic growth rather than stress or a so-called disorder.
1. Personal strength – What lessons did the experience contain? How can that be used as a strength in the future?
2. Relationships – Choose social support: a group based on similar experience; offer people the benefit of lessons learned; seek professional counseling, etc.
3. Greater life appreciation – Practice gratitude, savoring, and reflection on how perception has changed.
4. Beliefs – Examining relevant beliefs may reinforce or evolve them, and either way the examination will reveal meaning that leads to growth.
5. New possibilities – Happiness and optimism increase when you imagine your best possible self and contemplate goals.
Americans like to say the Chinese word for “crisis” is made from the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” Turns out that’s not exactly true. But the notion is an inspirational match here
supported by the research.
Scientific American notes the term post traumatic growth was coined in the mid 1990’s by psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl also got a nod for his
extensive writing about surviving the holocaust. I recommend his seminal book Man’s Search For Meaning, which surprisingly wasn’t mentioned in the article.
Searching for meaning is the commonality of the five points above that allows crisis to catalyze positive change above and beyond resilience. It is essential to approach rather than avoid dealing with grief, and to take charge of cultivating the most useful perspective.
This article resonated with me because I can see it describing my experience in many ways. I’m now in the fourteenth month of caregiving for a dying relative. This has upended my life in more ways than I count.
Despite the challenges, I have undoubtedly grown from doing what this article describes. Further, these steps summarize well how I’ve helped coaching and hypnotherapy clients, before I even knew about this research.
If you have some post traumatic growth to do, please call to discuss how I can help you either in the Atlanta area or by Skype. Reach me directly at 707-845-3749.