Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

With Eyes of Faith…Adversarial Growth April 19, 2012

By Dorothy Williams

“Great suffering or trauma

can actually lead to great positive change…”


Shawn Achor

Does your mental map include a path that leads up out of adversity to a place where you are stronger than ever before?  Positive psychology researcher, Shawn Achor, believes it is essential to creating happiness and he refers to it as a path that leads to Post-Traumatic Growth.

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn explains it this way:

“…when soldiers are heading to combat, psychologists commonly tell them they will return either ‘normal’ or with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  What this does, in effect, is give these soldiers a mental map with only two paths – normalcy and psychic distress.  Yet while PTSD is of course a well-documented and serious consequence of war (and while war can be so horrifying that returning ‘normal’ might be a very attractive promise), another large body of research proves the existence of a third, far better path:  Post Traumatic Growth.”

Also known to psychologists as Adversarial Growth, the experience is achievable if you know the right strategies.  Shawn adds, “People’s ability to find the path up rests largely on how they conceive of the cards they have been dealt, so the strategies that most often lead to Adversarial Growth include positive reinterpretation of the situation or event, optimism, acceptance, and coping mechanisms that include focusing on the problem head-on (rather than trying to avoid or deny it).”

Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, I found the third path. With spring bursting forth here in the Midwest, and Easter’s resurrection power welling up within, I’m compelled to keep exploring it.

How about you? How are you dealing with the adversity that comes with infertility?

Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago.  During a flurry of spring cleaning, she tossed out the cards she was dealt.