This morning I heard a term that’s new to me: Post Traumatic Growth.
We’ve been familiar with its counterpart, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which has afflicted so many. But this expert on television said, following a crisis, around 50% of people experience personal growth and strength.
No doubt we’ve been immersed in a worldwide trauma more complex than the Covid 19 pandemic, which alone has been life changing. Many countries are turning toward authoritarianism, putting democracy at risk. Climate change is more evident by the day. We can all agree times are difficult and scary. Few, if any, have escaped.
But what causes some to suffer from long-term PTSD and others to come through stronger and wiser?
I have no definitive answers, but it brings to mind another book I’m reading called My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. He points out the obvious: we all experience pain, physical and emotional.
Menakem divides hurt into two categories: clean pain and dirty pain. Both wound us. But with clean pain, we face it with all the honesty and integrity we can muster and, against our “lizard brain” instinct to bury it, plow through, doing what seems best. When that doesn’t work, we regroup and try again.
Dirty pain convinces us to avoid, blame, and deny. We may run away, hide, or respond with cruelty, but relief is only delayed. If it comes at all.
Likely, each of us have made all those choices at one time or another. I have. Sometimes, we’re in shock and must take time to gather the strength to forge ahead with our healing. Other times, that courage never comes. The result is bitterness.
So, as the light is visible at the end of the pandemic tunnel, this is a good time for reflection. How have you grown? What have you gained? Or will you spend your life whining about your “lost year” and those who caused it?
Each of us has a choice to make.