Tackle the new year with a spirit of optimism. We’ve survived the holidays and though it may not have been easy, we proved we could do it! Positive psychology is a promising philosophy for those of us on our journey of grief. Internationally renowned expert, Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Education, at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is a prolific author of several ground breaking books dealing with posttraumatic growth, positive psychology and overall human flourishing. His approach to trauma encourages us to acknowledge the emotional stress and difficulties we face in living. He offers stages however, that we can achieve through struggling that is bolstered by commitment, dedication and patience.
I will be sharing some of the stages that Dr. Joseph prescribes as stepping stones to the facilitation of posttraumatic growth. The six stages that he identifies can give us hope, that despite pain and difficulty, we are able to come out on the other side stronger and more philosophical about life. Prior to delving into Dr. Joseph’s advice, he reminds his readers of three very important things:
- You are not alone.
- Trauma is a normal and natural process.
- Growth is a journey.
He offers a fundamental guideline as a suggested rule to keep in mind as well. Don’t do anything that you might not be able to handle now. We all possess that sense of “not feeling comfortable” with a decision. That “gut feeling” will sometimes present itself in a number of ways. If you experience intense emotions, become physically upset, or feel a sense of panic…STOP! Learn to trust your instincts. There will always be another day to face a difficult choice or decision. There is less of an opportunity to undo a choice or decision after the fact. Having a sense of personal control over your recovery is very important. Set your own pace. Handle only those things that you feel you are able to comfortably deal with. Those things that can’t be handled today will, in time, become easier as you discover greater strength and develop new coping skills.