Back in July, I wrote about the Colorado movie theater massacre hoping I would not have to write another post like that one. It deeply saddnes me to be writing again about an even more senseless massacre in a Conneticut elementary school today. 20 some young children and 7 or 8 adults (including the gunman who took his own life) were unmercifully gunned down for being where they were suppose to be and doing what they were suppose to be doing. Totally senseless loss of life.
My heart aches for the families, friends, members of the community who have lost so much. I want to call out, "When will it end?" While there is no definite answer, as the shock, disbelief, and numbness wear off, it is important to realize we live in a world that is unfair – where bad things do happen and evil exists. Therefore, it's necessary for individuals of all ages and cultures to be resilient.
Resilience can be learned if you don't have it. Being resilient is not a denial of reality. You do need to acknowledge what has happened. It is a process in which you are responsible for managing your thoughts and emotions.
It is time for all of us to acknowledge the responsibility for choosing healthy thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Here are some things you can do daily to help build your resilience and especially when tragedy strikes:
- Realize you need to choose to manage your thoughts. This means be aware of your thought patterns. If they are going in a negative pattern, tell yourself you can learn, step by step if necessary how to move in a more positive direction.
- Be hopeful. Ask yourself if what you are saying to yourself (your thoughts) and what you are feeling is helpful. If not, try changing your belief or expectation about the future.
- Connect with people who are most important to you. Talk with them in person or by phone whenever possible rather than use the internet. When you are with people, use that time to be with them rather than scanning your phone for messages or checking the internet.
- Find things you are grateful for. Be sure to say why you are grateful for someone or something by using the word because.
- Get out into nature if it is possible for a while. If not, try to meditate by just sitting and allowing yourself to focus on your breathing, letting your thoughts come and go as you focus on slowing and deepening your breath for ten to twenty minutes.
- Disconnect from the internet, iPod or phone to give your brain time to assimilate and integrate all of the information you have gathered. The brain needs reflection time to be healthy. If you have trouble doing this, seek help from people trained in handling internet addiction.
- Get rest when you need it (7 to 8 hours/night is helpful and allows your brain to process what has happened during a day).
- Open your heart up to others who are less fortunate than you are. This warms your heart and helps you handle your pain.
This Christmas season find others who are in need and give them a smile and a word of encouragement, sign up to ring the Salvation Army bell, donate to a cause that is important to you, or find other ways to help someone you know or a stranger.
Using the above suggestions takes self-awareness and self-management. These are two basic Emotional Intelligence competencies. You may have noticed that you can use several of the suggestions at the same time. You can also pick and choose which combinations work best for you.
My favorites (not in any special order) are #1, 2, 4, and 5. What are yours? What else do you find helpful?
Until next time,