“There is no important reality other than inner reality.”

An ever-growing body of research shows that trauma can bring post-traumatic growth. In a 2019 study published in Health and Social Works, for example, 99 percent of survivors of serious road trauma reported experiences of post-traumatic growth. Researcher Anthony Mancini (2019) showed in a study in Psychological Review how acute adversity can actually improve psychological health.

As an example of how a deep trauma can bring post-traumatic growth, we can all learn a life lesson from psychologist Natalia Lomonosova of Ukraine. Three months ago, when she and her daughter fled from Kyiv to Germany, leaving everything behind, she was interviewed for this site by PT editor-in-chief Kaja Perina. Recently, my husband and I met Natalia in Germany to talk about her experience and her growth.

What did you learn about yourself in the last 3 months?

1. You can’t lose yourself. I learned that, even if you lose everything else, you need to do everything you can not to lose yourself. I have lost everything, but I can’t and won’t lose myself.

2. Everything I thought I owned was an illusion. Everything that I thought I had (material things, money) was an illusion, and was unimportant. I realize now that the only thing that matters in the world for me is people and their kindness. People I met gave me material support, strength, and wisdom.

3. There is no important reality other than inner reality. The only important thing is how I feel about what is happening. It’s not what happens that hurts people, but how they interpret it.

4. Never lose hope. Now I see my life before as a constant rise to my peak, from which, because of the war, I had to jump, leaving everything, clutching my daughter’s hands, and closing my eyes in horror. It was a leap of faith.