Are you going through something big in your life right now? So many of my friends and family members are, from unemployment to illness to injury to divorce. Life feels heavy to me right now. Even though my situation pales in comparison, and I've brought on a lot of my own stress, I am still struggling to get through each day with a positive mindset.
I used to think stressful times were merely something to be endured. But since learning about posttraumatic growth, I try to look at difficult situations differently. Posttraumatic growth is defined as the “experience of individuals whose development, at least in some areas has surpassed what was present before the struggle with crises occurred. The individual has not only survived, but has experienced changes that are viewed as important, and that go beyond the status quo” (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 2004). It's not the crisis, but the struggle, that helps them grow. Picture those who've gone through a serious illness and come through it with a fresh perspective on life. Or those who say that ultimately losing their job was the best thing that happened to them.
They're able to come to these conclusions by construing benefit in their situation. Recently a participant in a positivity program talked about how painful her divorce was, and also how she was able to find positive outcomes, such as learning she was stronger than she thought she was, feeling supported by those around her, learning who her true friends are, and feeling better equipped to show empathy to others.
I wish none of us had to deal with difficult situations. It's important to acknowledge that you are in pain and angry/frustrated/sad/scared/all of the above. Yet there are lessons to learn, relationships to form, and positives to be found.
If you have to go through it, ask yourself how can you grow through it.