Convert Pain Into Personal Growth

The term post-traumatic growth was coined by two psychologists called Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun in the 1990s. It's used to describe positive improvements in life after a period of pain. Trauma in general can either lead to a downward spiral or bring out the inner strength that you never knew you had. It just depends which side is encouraged more.

Of course, none of this is as easy as it sounds, because as humans we always wish for happy endings. But one of the things written in the Yoga Sutras is that everything leads to dukha or unhappiness. Even the joy you’re experiencing today will lead to sadness because you will miss it tomorrow. Sorry to burst your bubble but this is reality.

So how do we convert bad times into personal growth? I think the first step is just to accept that not one person, including someone who’s life you envy, is blessed enough to always be in a happy space. I've had many unhappy years where I almost lost everything, but what made me go through hard times was a mix of prayer, hope and will power. 

Sometimes believing in a power higher than yourself is good enough to get you through. But prayer can only give you the strength to accept your fate, however, you must work on changing it yourself. I once heard someone say that 90% of your life is pre-determined. The undecided 10% is your reaction to any given situation - but that changes everything. 

To begin with, try to find one thing that makes you happy - not a person or a place on the outside, but something that you do, which makes you feel elated. For me it was yoga, for you it could be art, music, journalling or running, basically anything that you can own completely, without the need of outside help. This makes you a self-sufficient, because you have the power to claim at least a bit of happiness on your own. 

Its also important to reduce negative talk. While its great to offload with a friend, constantly talking about the negativity in your life will make you feel worse. Also eliminate negative self talk. This means that you will never call yourself stupid or loser. Often I find that even doing this greatly improves the general atmosphere. Most of us can’t wish away our problems, but why keep giving them more power by talking negatively? In fact, when you wake up in the morning, think about a few things that you’re grateful for. 

Lastly, live each day as it comes. Five years ago if someone had told me that I would be sitting here writing this blog, I would have never believed them. Sometimes situations continue for years without any respite, but everything can and will change in a moment. Just like happiness doesn't last forever, sadness also has an end. So be a good student to your pain and use it to the fullest, because unlike joy, it teaches you lessons that will hold you in good stead.