25 Feb Helping Post-Traumatic Growth
Posted at 17:13h in Coaching, Intelligent Thinking, Training and Development, Well being 0 Comments
Put yourself in the best position for helping post-traumatic growth
Last week I had a webinar with my Scarlet Thinking Women’s group on the subject of post Traumatic Growth. While we hear a lot about post traumatic stress, there is also a positive condition that can come out of trauma, and that is post traumatic growth. Considering how long we’ve been under the shadow of Covid, a chronic stressor if ever there was one, I thought I would share the key puzzle pieces to help you put yourself in the best position to experience post traumatic growth, and not stress.
The first of those pieces is education or growth. Most of us have learned something during these stressful times. For some it has been a choice to take up a new hobby, such as gardening, or learning a language: obvious learning. We have also learned about ourselves. People are reporting how surprised they are by their need for one to one connection…or not, as the case may be. Some have had to learn a new way of working, such as a new job, skill or industry in order to survive. We have all certainly learned a lot more about viruses during this time.
Take some time today to consider what you have learned this last year. My top three learnings have been:
1. I started a psychotherapy course, so lots of obvious learning there
2. I’ve been living with people I don’t know so well, so I’ve learned a lot about them
3. I’ve learned that I need some space and time to myself every day or I get grumpy!
We all need an outlet to discuss the trials we go through. This could be friends, a partner, a therapist or even a journal at a push. Being able to talk frankly and get things off our chest is vital. It’s not even about the input or advice that other people can give. Merely talking is a big help.
If journalling is your choice then it’s important not to analyse what happened, but to write about yourself and your journey with self-compassion and kindness. This will help set you up for moving into the future and away from the past.
The next key part in getting ourselves ready for post traumatic growth is emotional regulation. If you’re at the mercy of your emotions you’ll be living on a roller coaster of adrenaline and cortisol and that’s a recipe for carrying the long-term impact of stress. First, you need to find a way to let off steam, but one that’s right for you. It could be running, meditation, or even boxing with the Switch – I’ve heard that does wonders for repressed anger! Do it regularly, not just when you think you need it.
Second, practise controlling your reactions. Breathe rather than attack, pause rather than reply to a sarcastic comment. Try to let it wash over you. It’s easier said than done and will take some practice. We want to calm the amygdyla which sets off the fight or flight response, and use our cortex, a more objective way of thinking.
Notice what triggers you, and calmly assess whether you can do anything about it, or change your own reaction to it.
Working on our emotional regulation raises our emotional intelligence, our EQ, something that is a vital part of career and business success – even more so than IQ!
The final piece that is more likely to help us into post traumatic growth and not trauma, is narrative development. That is, to see what has happened to us as part of our story – but not the whole story. Think of a story arc – hero leaves home for distant shores and encounters various monsters, trials and obstacles. Our challenges are the monsters, trials and obstacles. We endure them, fight them, resolve them and move on.