If you have experienced any type of trauma, or have a family member that has experienced trauma, it can be debilitating to the core. You can’t stop replaying the event in your mind and you may feel hopeless and afraid. But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to get rid of that pit in your stomach? And that it’s even possible to grow from your experience?
What Is Post Traumatic Growth?
Post Traumatic Growth is the rather strange phenomenon of growing from a traumatic experience. It means those who have experienced trauma at some point in their life can then use that experience as a catalyst for positive growth.
It’s imperative to allow time to process the traumatic event—growth won’t happen overnight. But when you or your family member are ready to discuss it with others, that is a good sign they are ready for a growth mindset. A growth mindset means focusing on the growth that can be experienced rather than focusing on the struggle it’s created. It is a shift in focus from what’s wrong to what can be gained.
How to Foster Positive Growth After Trauma
Two-thirds of trauma survivors report positive changes with the right circumstances and support. Creating an environment for yourself or your family member that encourages personal growth is key. Here are 5 ways to foster positive growth after experiencing trauma:
- Plan activities. This can include doing things you enjoy as well as doing things together as a family. These can include activities such as watching a movie, having a game night, having family dinner, etc. By introducing activities within the family, it can help improve relationships and build trust with one another.
- Define your values. What do you value in life and what does your family value? Take time to ponder and discuss with your family the values that you have and how you can practice and implement those values in your life.
- Get involved in the community. This can include anything from joining a sports team, learning a musical instrument, volunteering, or hanging out with friends. This helps build relationships and create an identity outside of the trauma that was experienced.
- Set goals. Make a list of the goals you would like to achieve individually and as a family. Provide a timetable of when you would like to have these goals completed. Create realistic and specific goals.
- Validate. If you have a family member who has experienced trauma, keep in mind that they need validation. It’s important not to rush to a growth mindset—that will come with time. Validation establishes trust and comfort so that your family member can feel safe in coming to talk with you. If you have experienced trauma yourself, remember to validate yourself. The trauma and the emotions you have experienced are real and you need time to process what happened. It’s okay if this process takes longer than you, or others, expect.
Post Traumatic Growth Is Achievable
Whether you are the one who has experienced trauma or are the parent of a child who has experienced trauma, know there is hope. By doing these 5 things, you will find light returning to your life and that pit in your stomach will decrease with time. Ultimately, you will see the growth that has come from your experiences and you will be able to tackle life head-on.
If you have more questions about post-traumatic growth and how it can help you or a family member with the trauma they have experienced, contact a therapist today.