Trauma—a Curse or a Catalyst?

A recent headline caught my eye. “How Trauma Can Become A Catalyst For Personal Growth.”

The subject of trauma seems to be trending these days. Or maybe I’m noticing it more now because I’ve been cursed by a series of calamities.

Starting in 2020, I’ve watched my mother die, my daughter suffer a painful illness, my best friend’s cancer return, and my 12th surgery in less than 3 years. All during the pandemic! My struggles with anxiety, insomnia, anger, grief, and fear are classic symptoms of PTSD.

However, this Wall Street Journal article offered a far more hopeful way to view these ordeals—as a catalyst for positive transformation.And there’s a name for it: PTG, Post Traumatic Growth.  WSJ reporter, Beth Decarbo, explains,

 Post Traumatic Growth, describes what happens when people who struggle psychologically after adversity in time come to experience positive, transformative changes in their mind-set and behavior.

In other words, the pain of trauma can pave the way to a better life. In fact, thanks to this article, I realized my trauma has indeed given me many gifts. I just hadn’t noticed.

I’ve been enjoying my work more, gaining greater compassion for clients. I’ve intensified my study of A Course in Miracles, feeling drawn to teach it. I’ve grown even closer with my husband. I’ve upped my philanthropy along with mentoring several women pro-bono. And despite the anxiety, my life feels more meaningful.

Here are 5 ways to stimulate Post Traumatic Growth:

  1. Connect closely with others through support groups, family gatherings, and hanging out with compassionate friends. Social engagement is key to positive recovery.
  2. Talk about your fear and suffering with people who are good listeners, whether friends, family or mental health professionals. In time, you’ll notice your focus shifting toward a more positive narrative.
  3. Engage in self-care activities like yoga and slow, deep breathing, which ease anxiety and increases feelings of safety.
  4. Find ways to make an impact, which usually involves being of service to others.
  5. Ask yourself the question: “How can I learn and move on from this?” This helps create “emotional distance” from the trauma, seeing it doesn’t need to define you.

Learning about PTG has shown me that on the other side of pain, a more gratifying life awaits. Perhaps Nietzche said it best: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

Can you think of ways to reframe your trauma to make your life better? Leave me a comment below.

Comments & Feedback

  • Patrice

    Thank you. I have to learn patience with myself and others. i must be willing to give myself grace.

    • barbara huson

      Yes, Patrice, I feel the same. I too need to be patient, give myself grace. I think it’s an important component in the healing process! Thanks for sharing that!

  • Lisa

    Barbara, OMG, I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure12 surgeries in less than 3 years. I hope you don’t have to have any more surgery. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother and everything else you’ve gone through. You’ve been around the ringer!

    I reframed my trauma (although, compared to what some people have been through, it’s not that traumatic) by being dedicated to living a life that’s interesting, peaceful, and active! Helping someone else is being active. Not engaging in DRAMA is being peaceful. Having a loose daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plan is interesting! Being around people who are a little bit self aware and who own their stuff is peaceful, and so is having some boundaries in place with people!

    • barbara huson

      Lisa, I deeply appreciate your sweet concern for me. I hope this is my last surgery too. One thing I know about trauma, you can’t compare it to anyone else’s. No matter how much better or worse it seems, your experience is still traumatic and it lives in your nervous system until it’s healed. But it looks like you’ve found beautiful and healthy ways of dealing with it. I give you a lot of credit!

  • Karen

    Thank you for sharing this Barbara. I’m currently navigating some big past and current life trauma, with a fantastic therapist, thanks in big part to you, Barbara for being such an advocate of trauma therapy.

    I’ve realized how much compassion my trauma has helped me develop, and it’s made me a truly dedicated wife, mother, businesswoman and friend, who is willing to walk through the muck with others rather than walk away because I know better can be on the other side.

    It also informs my coaching because I can often see the natural gifts that people have that they’ve been criticized or shamed for, and when they see it, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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