5 Ways To Process The Pain Of Paris

There's heaviness in the air stemming from the recent bouts of violence we've all been witnessing. It is essential for the healing of psyches to process the feelings that surface when our safety is threatened and lives are lost due to senseless brutality.

December 21, 2015
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There’s heaviness in the air stemming from the recent bouts of violence we’ve all been witnessing. It is essential for the healing of psyches to process the feelings that surface when our safety is threatened and lives are lost due to senseless brutality. Here are five ways to cope with what comes up.

With the recent horrific events happening on a global scale we need to be aware of the psychological toll these acts of violence can take on our individual and collective psyches. The senseless brutality we’ve been witnessing is both impossible to comprehend yet very real, creating a split in our minds. One part of our brain operates on the default assumption that everything is fine, while another part knows full well it’s not. As a result, we push it out of awareness, numb and ignore our feelings, and refuse to accept or acknowledge that our world is in chaos.

The combination of repressed feelings and the constant barrage of negative media creates a recipe for all sorts of symptoms and, ultimately, poor mental health.

Dealing with your feelings about the recent events is important not only for your own well-being but also for the healing of the world. We live in an unprecedented global community where the collective consciousness is not just a theory. Your ability to acknowledge and process your emotions has an impact on the broader circle in which you live, and your internal response to the recent horrors directly affects your external behavior, whether you’re aware of it or not.

When we walk around doing business as usual–or even worse, acting like nothing happened–we are denying our own feelings and the pain of the world. When we hide or repress what we feel, we’re eliminating the chance to model healthy emotional expression for the people in our lives, which we need to do to cope and heal.

Many of us don’t know what to do with our feelings as we are bombarded continuously by the news and reports of continued attacks happening internationally and locally. Fear, sadness, anger, guilt, and helplessness are just a few of the emotions that are stirred up by these horrific acts of violence. Finding a way to process the feelings is difficult, and the challenge is even greater when we dismiss our right to feel whatever comes up.

Here’s what you can do to cope:

Face the reality.

Denial is an effective coping mechanism to maintain a sense of balance when things become too much. Avoidance is different, however, because it stems from not wanting to face the truth of things. When you avoid the reality of the recent events happening around the world you are missing an opportunity to connect with a greater consciousness that can support you. None of us is alone in this, but it’s easy to isolate as a protection against the pain. In the end, accepting the reality is much more productive and can open the door to positive action.

Talk about it.

We often worry that we will be a downer if we talk about negative news, and we also struggle with what’s appropriate to share. You may have young children you’re protecting, or you may exist in a culture where these kinds of feelings aren’t acceptable. Finding a safe space to share your feelings is crucial even if it’s in a setting outside of your daily life. You can seek therapy, a support group, an advocacy group, or even an online forum where others are sharing similar emotions. Allow yourself the space to share what you think and feel because it’s important and valuable.

Let your heart break.

For some reason many of us feel we don’t have the right to be upset about something that isn’t directly happening to us or the people we hold close. Consider everyone in the world to be a relation to avoid separating yourself from the suffering. Although you may not always have comparable pain, you can relate on some level and imagine what it would be like if it were you. This is the very definition of compassion, something we all need more of.

Be a role model.

As human beings we are very cautious about standing out from the crowd. By nature, we want to fit in and follow the status quo. When it comes to catastrophic events like the ones we’ve been seeing, we can no longer maintain a herd mentality. By naming your pain and speaking up about your feelings, you may disturb the systems of denial that are in place, but you will also be helping our world heal.

Get active.

In her book Active Hope, Joanna Macy speaks of the importance of taking action as a healing tool. When you can get to a place where your powerlessness turns into intolerance you can find an outlet through becoming more active. This might be in your community, online, through donations, or other forms of showing up. Your efforts and voice matter even when they don’t seem to, so find a way to participate and promote change.

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