Health and Well-being: Roe Chiacchio

Post Traumatic Growth: We can stand back up after trauma, heartbreak or loss and transform our life

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 11:00am

Our world of ongoing environmental shifts, political unrest and personal tragedy has shaken us to our core. Our comfort rug has been pulled out from underneath our feet, leaving us tumbling and falling onto our knees. Some say they are afraid of living. Others say they are afraid of dying. Some are afraid of both. We begin to fear being fearful.

How do we survive and move onward with positivity towards our future?

In a changing and unstable world, life gives us opportunities we don’t see when we are fearful. Fear-based thoughts negatively impact our decision-making processes. They can confine and hold us hostage, preventing us from taking risks, that can move us towards opportunities to improve our life’s situation.  

We have a choice of either avoiding our fears or opening the door to look at them. We can approach them, understand where they came from, then proceed to move through them. In doing this, we are developing survival skills to press ahead instead of marinating in our fear-based thoughts. 

Our resistance to and lack of acceptance of uncomfortable events and reality, can cause us emotional and psychological suffering. 

We can stand back up, brush ourselves off after trauma, heartbreak or loss and transform our lives. We can fare well in the aftermath of tragedy and foster personal growth and development. This is referred to as post-traumatic growth (PTG). The opposite of PTG is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When we develop PTG, we will have the intrinsic ability to view our surroundings with a new set of eyes, ears and thoughts to make sense of what has happened to us and see opportunities. We can develop mental survival dexterity to fall back on. Trauma doesn’t have to destroy or disable us.

We don’t appreciate or value opportunities when they are handed to us or easily come our way. These occurrences do not teach us work ethic, perseverance, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and adaptability skills. When we are challenged and fragmented, psychological tension is created, giving us the opportunity to investigate and restructure our beliefs and values. 

There are significant benefits which rise from PTG. People have noticed a greater appreciation for life, they value their relationships more, they discover their purpose in life and become aware of personal strengths. And they feel compassionate and altruistic. All of these contribute to a healthy way of living with meaning.

Take steps to revise, rebuild and redefine yourself after any form of trauma.

  • Investigate your fears. Ask what they are? Why do I fear them? Are they true?

  • Be an observer and realize when you are watching, how you continue to relive traumatic events over and over. 

  • Break free from your negative self-talk you have cocooned yourself in and emerge with a different story.
  • Be open-minded to the unfamiliar paths in front of you. 

  • Take time to sit back and reflect on how you are living your life.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Stand tall and walk with acceptance and confidence.

Shed fear-based living and develop courage to investigate the unfamiliar. PTG is transformation following trauma. We can develop new understanding of ourselves, the world we live in, how to relate to others and how to live life with meaning.

“We are what we believe we are.” —  C.S. Lewis

Roe Chiacchio RN, CPT, CDP is a personal trainer, specializing in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and a certified dementia practitioner. She shares her perspective and knowledge about health and wellness in her articles published at PenBay Pilot, Well Being Journal and NCCDP. Her business, ONWARD, Cardiovascular Health, Wellness and Medical Management is located in Camden, Maine. Her education is based in behavioral science, psychology, neuroscience and gerontology studies. Hobbies include photography and international travel. For more information, contact Roe at 207 249-8166, or