A few days ago, I was lucky enough to sit down, “virtually”, with three passionate and innovative doctors (Ashlea Broomfield, Charlotte Hespe and Rebekah Hoffman) as a guest on their fabulous new podcast “Just a GP”.
They asked me on the show to talk about how personal tragedy has affected me – as a doctor and in other aspects of my life. It is a heavy topic; a topic society doesn’t much talk about. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to address it, difficult as it was to speak about.
I spoke about post-traumatic growth – the idea that positive psychological change can occur as a result of adversity. This is different to resilience, which is about how quickly and completely you “bounce back”. The difference between resilience and thriving is the recovery point – thriving goes above and beyond resilience, and involves benefiting from challenges. It is about finding meaning in the seemingly meaningless.
Post-traumatic growth should not be thought of as “getting over” grief. You don’t get over grief – you absorb, adjust and accept it. You find a new normal, changed forever.
Not everyone is a fan of “post-traumatic growth” as a concept. Some believe it to be “motivated positive illusion” whose purpose is to protect us from the possibility that we may have been damaged. If I’m happy and at peace just because I’m deluded, I honestly don’t mind – it works for me. 🙂
Whether you believe that people can become psychologically stronger after adversity or not, I do hope you enjoy the podcast, and that the tips I give about supporting others who are grieving will be of use.
You can’t go back in time and make all the bits of your life pretty, but you can move forward and make the whole picture beautiful.