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Want to find out if you’ve made meaning of a stressful life event or experience?
Complete this brief 6-item version of the Integration of Stressful Life Experiences Scale (ISLES). See article below to learn more.
After a negative and unexpected life event, people are quite naturally drawn to “why” questions.
They want to know why something happened, both in a worldly sense (e.g., What caused this to happen?; Who is responsible?) as well as on a more cosmic level (e.g., Why is this happening to me?).
. . . those who have made meaning of a stressful life event are less likely to experience mental and physical health problems afterward.
-Dr. Jason Holland, Lifespark
It turns out that the answers people develop to these kinds of questions matter a great deal after a stressful life event.
My colleagues and I have developed the Integration of Stressful Life Experiences Scale (ISLES) that assesses the degree to which someone has made meaning of a negative life event. It includes questions about the extent to which an event or experience “makes sense” as well as other questions that inquire about one’s sense of values, faith, and worldviews and how they have (or haven’t) changed afterward.
In a number of studies, we’ve found that those who have made meaning of a stressful life event (as assessed by the ISLES) are less likely to experience mental and physical health problems afterward, even after accounting for other known risk and resiliency factors.
It seems that after a stressful life event we have a need to integrate the experience into a coherent life story that makes sense and allows for a hopeful and purposeful future. And when this process is stymied, we’re more vulnerable to a number of mental and physical health problems, including elevated stress levels and dysregulation of hormones related to stress.
Watch Video: Finding Meaning in Suffering
Holland, J. M., Currier, J. M., Coleman, R. A., & Neimeyer, R. A. (2010). The Integration of Stressful Life Experiences Scale (ISLES): Development and initial validation of a new measure. International Journal of Stress Management, 17, 325-352.