Doors opening: A mechanism for growth after adversity

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Doors opening: A mechanism for growth after adversity

People commonly experience positive psychological changes after adversity, but little is known about how this growth happens. We propose that engagement with new possibilities – seeing ‘doors opening’ in the wake of loss – is key in this process. We hypothesized that people would report greater growth if they saw new possibilities in the aftermath of adversity. We also predicted that unless people had engaged with new possibilities, they would report greater deterioration when adversity disrupted their core beliefs. A diverse group of adults (N=276) from the US and India participated in a cross-sectional online study. Individuals experienced more growth if they had experienced more core belief disruption and more engagement with new possibilities. Engagement partially mediated the relationship between core belief disruption and growth. Engagement may also buffer against deterioration when core beliefs are disrupted. We conclude that pursuing new opportunities may be a crucial step in growth.

The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2015 Vol. 10, No. 2, 107–115

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