Tag Archives: growth

trauma growth

How to grow post-trauma

It is called trauma for a reason. It is shocking, full of pain, and often difficult to accept and move forward from. But, growth from trauma is possible. 

There are two different philosophies on trauma. The western philosophy is that trauma is an enemy that should be challenged or confronted. The eastern philosophy is that trauma is a “companion,” not an enemy. Victims are encouraged to feel the pathos of nature, the pain. Rather than sticking closely to one philosophy or another, it is best to incorporate both into healing and growth. 

Victim, Survivor, Thriver

Post-traumatic growth involves the passage of being the victim, then the survivor, and ultimately the thriver. Trauma is not fair and being the victim comes with a lot of pain and challenges. Being the victim is not something that needs to result in guilt or shame but rather it is something that happened. It is something that needs to be accepted and grown through — hence the “companion” not the enemy. When you accept that you were a victim, that trauma becomes part of you. You learn how to live with the fact that this happened to you and you learn how to thrive.

A person is still in the victim stage when they feel like they are still in the trauma event, no matter what or how long the actual traumatic event happened. The victim might feel overwhelmed, helpless, angry, etc. A victim moves to the survivor stage when they start to see the resources around to help them, the people in their life that care for them, the good things around them. A survivor is no longer completely encompassed by the traumatic event and is on the road to healing. They are beginning to feel strong and confident in themselves. 

Life Satisfaction

A person reaches the thriving stage when they have taken their healing to the point of feeling general satisfaction with their life. They have crystallized the survivor stage and are enjoying their life. In the thriver stage, a trauma victim sees long-term possibilities. They begin to focus on taking care of their health and loved ones. They also recognize and know how to cope with post-traumatic stress and any other issues that remain related to their trauma. 

A licensed mental health professional has the tools to help trauma victims go from victims to thrivers. Those in the mental health profession know that just because you were a victim of trauma, it does not need to define you. You can grow, move forward, and ultimately thrive in your new reality. 

Peter Pan

Do You Have Peter Pan Syndrome?

Do you remember Peter Pan? You know the boy who doesn’t grow up. I mean, who doesn’t want to stay a child forever? Life was easy as a child, less responsibility, more fun and way fewer worries to consume our days with.

But, as an adult there comes a time when you have to grow up. At some point, you need to take on adult responsibilities and shift your priorities. Unfortunately, we are not surrounded in the magic that can keep us children forever. Growing up and shifting priorities is not a smooth transition for everyone. Some adults truly struggle with this change, which is why the term “Peter Pan Syndrome” was coined by psychologists.

What are some of the characteristics of Peter Pan Syndrome?

1.) Unwillingness to work hard when you aren’t motivated. We all know how hard it can be to get things done when you don’t feel like doing something, but unfortunately being an adult sometimes means doing things you don’t want to do.

2.) Dabbling in many different things. Rather than focusing your time on honing one skill, a person who has Peter Pan Syndrome might spend their time trying a bunch of different things because they can’t pinpoint the one skill they want to master.

3.) Aversion to networking. Meeting successful people in your career field of choice can be hard, yet necessary to find a job and/or move up in a position. You have to put yourself out there, talk and learn from others.

4.) Focusing on the long shot. We are all told to dream big, but at some point, you might need to shift gears from trying to make it big as a musician or a film star and instead focus on a more realistic area of interest. Maybe instead of trying to be a multi-billionaire rockstar, you become a music teacher. Or instead of focusing all your energy into being a successful actor, teach a theatre class.

5.) Abusing alcohol and drugs. These types of behaviors while often linked to addiction or other mental health conditions, can make finding and keeping a successful job difficult. It can make adulting that much harder to do.

6.) Blaming your failure on an external source. Often those having difficulty growing up don’t want to accept that they aren’t successful in their careers because they aren’t motivated to try, and instead want to blame it on something their parents, spouse, or former employer did/said. The truth of the matter is some people have come from war, hunger, poverty, abuse, etc. and have come out successful. It is all about finding that motivation to go after the life you want.

If you identify with one or more of these characteristics it might be helpful to talk to a licensed mental health professional, life coach, or career counselor who can help to guide you on the path for success. The first thing you have to do is realize that to be successful in a career you will need to grow up, as hard as that is, and if you are struggling with that reality there are tools to help you. Anyone can succeed in life and career, it will just take some willingness to make changes.

Do you have unrealistic expectations about friendships?

I hear from clients all the time about how they are not able to maintain their friendships. They are kicking themselves, feeling bad, for not keeping the same relationships with their friends over time. 

They used to go over to their friends’ homes, talk on the phone daily, and share all of lives little moments. Now, they have to plan out a girls night weeks or even months in advance. They rarely have a chance to call and catch up. They realize that they haven’t even told their friend they got a new job or that story about how your kid fell asleep in the middle of the kitchen floor. 

Friendships change. As an adult you are busier, you have more responsibilities, more demands on time. You might move to chase a career or a spouse. Your worldview might change. It is ok to feel grief, sadness, loss over a changing friendship. It is ok to miss those phone calls and late night movies. But, it is also normal to lose touch. It is normal, and expected, to put your family and other demands on your time first. That is not to say it is not important to still have friends because yes, of course, it is. You still need friend time but it is probably less frequent and maybe with different friends than you previously had. 

As our lives change our friendship needs do also. Women with children often find they have more in common with other women with children. You share the same stressors and anxiety. You can relate. The same can be said for the working mom vs the stay-at-home mom, the boy mom vs the girl mom, the single mom vs. the married, etc. Maybe you have faced some health challenges and you need someone who can understand your pain and frustration. 

This is all part of life. We evolve, we mature, our circumstances are altered. We drift apart from each other, and that is ok. 

Embracing interests can determine future success

Clients tell me all the time that they want the freedom to make their own choices, yet they are afraid to fail. Sometimes they end up stalling to prevent missteps that could affect their future. They don’t want to do things they enjoy because they think it is not “useful” on their resume or for their future career. 

Your personal path

Sometimes doing the things you enjoy even though you don’t think they are “useful” at the time end up leading you to bigger and better things. It takes exploring your interests to grow as people. Just because it doesn’t feel “useful” at the time to take the class, or learn the hobby, it can be the first sign of creativity. It can feel like you are wasting your time but in the end lead to greatness. It is all part of our personal path. Life experiences, learning moments, all help us to become who we are meant to be. It may not be easy. Other people may laugh or ridicule us for the things we have done but they are all important to our success—however big or small. 

Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class at Rice University. At the time he was about to be a college dropout and wanted to learn more because he was interested. When developing the first Macintosh computer years later, the attention to typefaces became one of the most important/sellable features of the computer. It was that leap that helped to get him to the success he eventually achieved. It was all part of his path. Every experience can be a learning experience. By avoiding failure or potential mistakes out of fear, you are depriving yourself of a learning moment that could later change your life. You never know until you try. 

Failure can be scary. There is no doubt about that, but don’t let that fear stop you.  Don’t let that feeling of making a mistake in your education stop you from doing the things you enjoy. You never know where your experiences will lead you. 

What interest have you followed that later helped you in life?

What is the hurry? It is ok to let your kids be bored over the summer

Summer is here. The kids are out of school. The other parents are talking about the programs they have their kids signed up for, the reading lists they are going to follow, and all the ways they are going to add structure back into their kids lives. It might feel like the pressure is on as a parent, but what is the hurry? 

Your kids will only be kids for so long. Soon enough they will have pressure-filled summers with little or no break. They will feel the stress of trying to be successful in life. They will feel overworked, overstimulated, overbooked…eventually. We don’t have to make them feel this pressure as little kids. Instead, let them be little.

Let them be bored. 

Being bored for a kid is a time to let their imagination grow. It is a time to relax. It gives kids time to be kids. They can climb the tree in the backyard, or build a fort in the living room. They can stay up late to watch a movie (which to them will seem super fun, when to us it feels necessary). Boredom teaches our kids how to entertain themselves. If they always have structure, always have a place to be, then they won’t know what to do with that “off” time. 

It gives you time to have more family experiences. You can randomly decide to check out the farm down the street, or a playground further away because you will have the time to do these things. You can decide to spend the day having a water balloon war, or read a book in the backyard. You can go on a picnic. 

Remember the days when our parents could say “go outside and don’t come back until dinner.” We might not be able to do exactly that, but we can teach our kids to fend for themselves. To come up with their own ideas. Downtime can help children to learn who they are and what they really love to do. When they have the choice to do whatever they want for a day—what will they choose? 

It also takes the pressure off you. You don’t need to plan the whole day, or week or month. You can take a breather. School time is structured and full of activities and obligations, summer doesn’t have to be. Summer can be free time. Teach your kids to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy being a kid. 

Should you always play it ‘safe’?

You may have heard the terms before “safe space” and “brave space.” The two have long been debated over—which space is the better place to be?

Being in a safe space means a place that is free of judgment, it is comfortable, and happy and free. It is a place where you can be you without any fear, or retaliation. You can speak your mind or act in any way you want. Being in a safe space might sound amazing. For some, it probably sounds awesome. I mean who doesn’t want to be comfortable all the time. Who wants to feel judgment? But being “safe” all the time has its downfalls. 

Growing as a person

Always being “safe” means never growing as a person. It means not expanding your views. It means not learning how to be a stronger person.  A brave space is a place where you are forced to step out of your comfort zone, to stand up for your beliefs, to have conversations. When you are brave you are taking chances, and learning to trust in yourself. Being brave gives you the opportunities to learn from mistakes, to open your mind. It is a good thing. It is these life experiences that turn us into passionate, kind, strong, humble people. It is these experiences that teach us who we really are deep on the inside. Conquering the things we fear gives us confidence, and shows us that we can persevere in the face of adversity. 

If we always play it safe, we are living a stagnant life. Playing it safe is boring, it is uneventful.  

That is not to say that we should always be forced into brave space. Sometimes it is good to not have to worry, to feel safe to be who we are free of judgment, to be as comfortable as we can be. But, I discourage clients from always being safe. You need to be brave sometimes, you need to challenge your inner-being. The magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone. 

I saw a quote once that said, “You go through the wars to become a warrior.”

Don’t hide who you are, rather peel off the coverups and let yourself shine. Show yourself that inner-strength that you never knew you had until you had to use it. We are all much stronger than we know. You are too beautiful and life is too short to always be comfortable.