Imagine that. Something super challenging happens to us.
We can either break down. OR grow.
The *same* event can elicit post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic growth. Seriously. Same exact event. Two different people. Two different responses. Two different results.
What’s the key determinant?
Martin Seligman, one of the leading figures in the Positive Psychology movement, talks about this in his book Flourish and in Learned Optimism.
Essentially this is a manual on the science cultivating our perception;
Here’s how he puts it: “First, students learn the ABC model: how beliefs (B) about an adversity (A)—and not the adversity itself—cause the consequent (C) feelings. This is a point of major insight for students: emotions don’t follow inexorably from external events but from what you think about those events, and you can actually change what you think.”
Joseph Campbell puts it this way “There is an important idea by Nietzsche, the more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.”
When you are next faced with a challenging situation, or a traumatic event, once you have dealt with the prevailing obstacles, look at the challenge with a fresh perspective;
- What did I learn from this?
- What do I want to learn more from this?
- Now that I know what I know, what do I choose to do now?