How to deal with traumatic events

Tragedies bring pain and fear. How can you cope and regain your peace?

Traumatic events make us feel vulnerable and fearful, straining our ability to cope. Once again, in a flash, sick hate, and horrible cowardly acts make our sense of safety evaporate and everything seems to change. 

Families scramble trying to explain the unexplainable to children. Businesses go into survival mode and people can't concentrate in their jobs. The seen and unseen wounds multiply and many are affected.

In times like this we tend to rage and cry at the sickness or wickedness that incite people to harm others. We also tend to ignore the good news of people with deep compassion that help in many different ways, overcoming their fear with courage.

Today I want to share some ways in which we can cope with tragedy and start the process of healing and regaining our peace.

1. Pay attention to your own needs

When the stress of a crisis hit you, your body goes on alert. Common physical and emotional signs are: headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, anxiety, and similar things. 

You need to help yourself regain balance by such simple things as eating well, sleeping, exercising, seeking comfort from a spiritual practice, taking time to share feelings with others, and being around those who can give you love and support.

2. Talk about what is happening and what you are experiencing

Sharing is the best way our minds and bodies deal with grief and trauma. Do not pull back and isolate yourself. To be able to make meaning and deal with the events, you need to talk about them. You need opportunities to share with others and process what has happened. You need to offer comfort and receive comfort.

If you are in a position to encourage community sharing at work, with your family, or in your neighborhood, focus on basic attentive listening. Encourage expression of feelings, and look for meaning and hope based in the strength of coming together and helping one another.

Let others talk and just listen. Park your rational brain. It’s not the time to give advice. It’s time to hear, validate, ask questions that invite more conversation, and just feel together.

3. Find something meaningful to do 

The sense of helplessness you experience in the face of tragedy makes matters worst. Look for small things you may do: donate blood, say a prayer for the suffering families, write a note of encouragement to some one who is in more distress than you are, do an act of kindness that can counteract in a small way the evil of the world.

4. Find something else to talk about 

The constant repetition of everything that is wrong keeps the wounds open and make fear and hate infect everything we think, say, and do. The way the media hype up everything doesn't helpeither. Don't keep yourself glued to the same repetition of the same horrible news. Don't keep talking only about all the tragic events of the week.

Balance that with finding some uplifting news, selfless acts of kindness, and things to be thankful for. I'm not saying you should ignore the tragic reality. But if you keep immersing yourself only in tragic events without anything positive to help balance, your mind becomes unbalanced and you will start fearing that what are isolated incidents will become a constant.

5. Seek professional help

If you have strong symptoms that are causing you a lot of distress and/or that remain with you for more than a week, or if you are having horrible nightmares every night, seek out a professional to talk to. You don't want traumatic symptoms to take hold of you and make you develop trauma related symptoms.

6. Remember that you have a choice

Fear is a choice. So is peace, and love. Life is about making healthy, everyday choices in dealing with whatever comes.



You can choose to be courageous.

You can choose to serve others.    

You can choose to be caring.

You can choose to help those that hurt.

You can choose to stay and don’t run away when others need you the most.

Remember. . . We chose the eagle as our national bird because it’s the only bird that isn’t afraid of the storm. You can choose to have peace in the midst of tragedy. You can choose compassion and love. You can choose to find strength in vulnerability.

If you want to have a transformative conversations with Dr. Ada,  schedule one in the CALENDAR

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