Thursday, August 25, 2011

Post-Traumatic Growth is complicated


This is a too much work. I'm sorry but I couldn't/wouldn't do it. They make it too complicated. What am I talking about? All these complicated steps for post-traumatic growth. Yes, when life gives you lemons, you need to learn to make lemonade (vodka optional). But let's make it easier please. And maybe the steps should be a bit smaller. I think the authors are being a little optimistic myself and thinking its a one size fits all thing when its really a one size doesn't even fit most, just a few..

This is what they say and my opinions (because otherwise my blog would be more boring than it already is).

1. Become more optimistic - Sure, I'll just whip some optimism out of my back pocket and put on my rose colored glasses. You just told me I have cancer and I am not quite there yet. I have to get through those five stages of denial, anger (I forget the next ones) and end up at acceptance first. Then I'll gradually phase into the optimism level but I need some time first. And a gratitude journal? I tried that one. It has one date on it and one very brief entry and then I gave up. Sorry that doesn't work for me.

2. Increase mental agility - what is mental agility? I thought it was the ability to do crossword puzzles in pen. They think its 'the ability to see situations fully, accurately and from multiple perspectives'. I call that big picture thinking. I can work on that.

3. Seek self awareness - another journal. Forget it. Two journals (and a blog) to keep up? Not happening either. I know I act like an idiot sometimes and over react but I am not going to try to see what kind of patterns I act in or how I consistently act in the face of bad things. I have plenty of other things to do than to self analyze.

4. Self-regulate - in other words don't let yourself 'make a Himalaya out of a mountain'. (I kind of like that comparison.) So if you consistently cringe every time you get in your car to go to see your oncologist, stop it. That's (not) easy. No don't stop going to your oncologist, but try to make it less stressful - take a friend with you? Reward yourself with something after - like the lollipop you got after shots at the pediatrician. A little something as a reward.

5. Focus on strengths - Let me see, you are in cancer treatment, you have no hair, feel fat, tired, and nauseous all at once, and the idea of changing the tv station is challenging. Yep, got a lot of strengths going there. But I'm alive. That's one.

6. Develop better connections - I did this. I found all sorts of cancer support and cancer friends on line. I still have them and I still appreciate the support I received there.

Overall my take is you really have to get through those five steps (that I can't remember all of) and get to that acceptance stage and work on growing your resilience. When faced with trauma you need to cope first and then gain resilience. It doesn't happen over night but it can be done.

Also, don't think you can do it alone. You may want to find some support somewhere - on line, in person, in whatever form works for you. Getting to the growth stage from the stress stage isn't easy but it can be done. Take some time, if you can't/aren't coping, try some help. Part of this is figuring out what will work for you. And just because someone else loves their gratitude journal, doesn't mean you should run out and write one for yourself and think it will solve your problems.

Deep breath, one step at a time, is what gets you through to the other side for growth.

1 comment:

Charmine's Hope said...

I really like this one Caroline, and it brought tears to my eyes....and I don't know why. Other then something touched me in there. Everybody has "their" opinion of doing it the right way. I'm the kinda girl that WANTS to do it the right way, only to learn that there is no 1 right way, just as you said. I'm doing the best that I can, given my style, and the particular "lumps" that my life has dealt me the past couple of years. The part that I hate is listening to everyone else's opinion, and then questioning whether mine is right. Well guess what, mine has to be the right way because I don't see anyone else walking the walk for me!