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What Is Post-Traumatic Growth? Danielle Matthews Explains

From episode: Conversation with Danielle Matthews - Post Traumatic Growth

what is post -traumatic growth? Well, to me, I think PTSD is normal. When something shocking happens to your system and we go through a trauma, it is a normal part of just the emotional process to grieve what you lost, to be upset, to have anxiety. I think what I see is that sometimes people get stuck in that trap. And I was stuck there for about a year. I was feeling like a victim. And I was feeling like this shouldn't have happened to me. This wasn't fair. Why me? And of all people, it shouldn't have happened to me. And I realized about a year in, my doctor actually said to me, Danielle, this is your new normal. Your body has done the dealing it's going to do and you need to just adjust your life around these symptoms and you need to move on. And I remember it felt like he kicked me in. I mean, it felt like a punch in my gut where I was like, you got to be kidding me.

I was 24 and he was telling me, basically, you're going to be in a dark room for the rest of your life, unable to manage life. And I thought, no way. Like number one, you're fired. Like that's not going to be it. But number two, I thought, okay, Danielle, you got to figure something out here. And I think there's this concept. People talk about karma all the time. And I think people have a misunderstanding of it. You know, there's external karma and there's internal karma and external karma is like, say you have a billiard table and you, you know, you hit the white ball and it hits all the different billiard balls and they're all moving all over the place. Like external karma was the white ball, but it caused a ripple of events. You know, I don't know what ripple of events led to that man and I being on the same road and, you know, being hit by him and me getting a brain injury, like that was external karma. Yeah. Your internal karma is your internal response to an event. And your internal response is the only thing you have control over. It's the only thing that actually really matters in life. And it will ultimately determine the outcome, you know, that you've experienced what your life experience actually is. I think it's easy for people to understand.

I always think about someone who maybe there's an alcoholic father who has two sons and one son, you know, grows up and becomes an alcoholic. And the other one never touches the drop of alcohol. And you ask them like, well, why are you the way you are? And they both say, just look at who my father was. Well, same external karma. Same dad that's an alcoholic. One internal karma was, well, I've never had a better example. This is just how life is and becomes an alcoholic. The other says, I'm never going to touch this. This isn't the way I want to live my life. And therefore their outcome in life is very different. So what I learned about a year in to my accident, when I was told basically people in the external world didn't have an answer for me, that's how I took it. I said, okay, the neurologists don't have an answer, the world's not offering a solution. I need to go inward. And I just started to reflect on, okay, Danielle, what do you have control over here? Like, what can we manage? And I was severely depressed. I had severe anxiety. I was having panic attacks all the time because the moment I thought about my future, I freaked out because it was like, I didn't know how I feel a day from now, let alone if I'd ever be able to work again.

And if I thought about the past, it felt like that was slipping further and further away. This woman that had been so successful in life and had achieved so much. And now I couldn't do any of those things. I didn't even recognize myself. And so I just, I forced myself into the present moment and I forced myself to internally think, okay, what would make me happy right now? How could I be with this situation? What if I just say there's new rules on this game that is my life? And now I have to find happiness within these new rules. Like, instead of focusing on what I can't do, why don't I focus on what I can do? And I just shifted, right, the internal karma, the internal response. And I started to say, okay, well, I could walk the dog. I could sit in nature. I could enjoy my grandparents and sit in a dark room with them. You know, I started to find that I could cook. I could read. I could have space to be creative, which I had never, ever allowed myself to just like be. I was always doing. Right. And I started to realize that this internal shift that was happening was literally impacting my external world.

My parents became less stressed because they saw that I was actually happier. My internal vibration shifted. I went from being angry and depressed and resentful to joyful, grateful, like happy. And when that shift occurred, and I know you know this well, because it's what you talked about, I attracted in the answer to my physical challenges. And I started on the process of actually repairing from my brain injury that I was told I never would.

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