Watching children die? Watching bombs fall? Guns killing? A loved one dying? Your own approaching death? Hungry, homeless, ill? How do you go on?
You endure the unendurable mostly by putting one foot in front of the other, and when that is not possible, just standing what I call “Dead in the water” for a
What is unendurable? Events that change you forever. Such life blows can be something as personal as the death of gold-fish or as life threatening as being in a war zone; war zones’ include domestic violence or neighborhoods run by criminals.
Such events bring you to a stand still. When standing “Dead in the water” is the best you can do, hopefully others will be there tending you.
WHAT HELPS AFTER A LIFE BLOW
When you can begin putting one foot ahead of the other, here are some others have found to move them ahead.
First – Do what the very young do. Young children move forward the best because more than the rest of us the younger the children the more he or she lives in the now. A bomb goes off, their house burns down, a parent dies, and quicker than an older child or adult, the young child can be seen playing with a favorite toy or laughing with friends.
Too often grownups seeing such play, think the child is not affected by the unendurable. Not so; nature and the development of their brains at that time, gets they through and keeps them going by having them do whatever comforts them the most, usually play.
Adults and school aged children need a bit more, but the lesson being learned is a good one; as soon as pain and immediate danger are past, get back to the everyday things that comfort.
Next – reconnect with those you care about and who care about you. Doing so is one of the things that comforts most. For most of us right after the unendurable, we need to be with those who can help us affirm the horror of what happened.
As the great philosopher Martin Buber noted: “Man wishes to be confirmed in his being by man, and wishes to have a presence in the being of the other….sent forth from the natural domain of species into the hazard of solitary category surrounded by a chaos which came into being with him…secretly and bashfully he watches for a YES which allows him to be and which can come to him only from one human person to another…that the heavenly bread of self being is passed. “
At no time is this more important to connect or reconnect then when life blows strike. That is why the mental health professionals gather trauma victims for debriefings. Talking about the horror helps particularly when it first hits.
Warning – going over the bad, however, reinforces the pain. Current research finds constantly reviewing the trauma, which often happens in some talk therapy, is not useful.
As soon as possible, establish a normal routine with an emphasis on maintaining what we know tends to our physical well-being – getting enough sleep, eating properly, and exercising.
Finally, examine what the unendurable has done to reaffirm or shatter your core beliefs about life and what it all means. Everyone needs to find comforting explanations for the whys of life.
Don’t agree? Think about the universal cry of the traumatized “Why me?”
We all know people who have lost or gained faith following a life blow.
For most of us, one or another religion serves to answer the why and how of life. People of faith find comfort and hope in religious practice. My faith helps me.
I quarrel with my atheist friends who want to do away with religion. Mostly these have lost faith after when prayers seemed to fail. I do not quarrel with any religion as long as it it allows those that do not encourage violence of one sort or another and allow others to believe as they believe. or preach violence of one sort or another,
While I do not care not what anyone believes, I do want bad theology done away with. Most of that theology centers around the idea that all should have the same belief. In my mind, the atheists who want to abolish religion are in the same camp as those who say in one way or another, “My faith is the one true faith.” Neither brings peace to this world.
All beliefs need to be examined against the Golden Rule. Harvard researchers Jerome Kagan and Sheila Lamb looked into morality around the world. They found that every culture promoted two values:
- Caring for the weak
- Justice and fair treatment.
When I taught this to my students, many rightful asked why if this is true is the world so full of violence?
My answer, “Because, we apply those values to our own, but not to others. We put those seen different, not in our family, clan, or tribe out of our caring circle.”
The beliefs that work best for all of us are those embodied by the Golden Rule. To bring peace to this world, however, we must draw the circle of caring around all, not just our own.
When a life blow strikes, and they strike all at one time or another, a well-practiced self-soothing program provides what the experts call resilience and help you move forward more easily.
Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.
Links of interest
September 5, 2014 Moved to Tears: Do movies, songs, or other forms of artistic expression easily make you cry? Tell us about a recent tear-jerking experience!
This prompt annoyed me. Many prompts do as they accentuate the trivial, but given the current increase in violence throughout all the world, this annoyed me more than most. But at least it prompted what I hope you will agree is a good post.