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Coping With Awful News Headlines: 6 Steps Toward Resilience

Practicing resilience in the aftermath of human tragedy and natural disaster.

The Colorado theater shooting, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, drought and wildfires-- if you watch or read the news things might seem pretty bleak. But whenever we hear ourselves making blanket statements like, "What is the world coming to?" or "Everything's going to hell!" we can look to these words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize of 1964:

"I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born."1

When you see the news of the day and start to feel anxious or afraid about the mortar bursts and whining bullets, let those bullets be a trigger to remember these 6 steps:

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  1. Turn off the news.
  2. Remember that "bad news" has been spread since the dawn of human communication; yet we're still here-- still caring, still loving, still innovating, still believing we can be better. Bad news hurts in the moment and in its aftermath, but it does not stop us-- the Earth and its people are strong, resilient, and forward moving.
  3. Remember that power is greater than force2. Power is positive, boundless, and forward moving. Force is negative, fueled by fear, and loses it's strength after a short burst.
  4. Recall the hope and faith of power-full people like MLK Jr.
  5. Connect with people-- the warmth of human connection disarms hate and strengthens compassion.
  6. Turn off the news-- if you missed step #1-- because contrary to popular myth, watching the nightly news does not make for a well-rounded or accurately informed public.
  7. Read a book that highlights the positive progress of humanity such as: Abundance by Peter Diamandis, The Progress Paradox by Gregg Easterbrook, An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson, or Nonzero by Robert Wright.

Examples of power = the sun, Gandhi, tree roots breaking through a concrete sidewalk, the magnificent forest regrowth after a wildfire.

Examples of force = gun shots, terrorist activity, human attempts to concrete, corral, and scorch the earth.





Brad Waters MSW, LCSW provides career-life coaching and consultation to clients internationally via phone and Skype. He helps people explore career direction and take action on career transitions. Brad holds a Master's degree in social work from the University of Michigan and Master's certification in Holistic Health Care from Western Michigan University. Brad is also a personal development writer whose books are available on Amazon and

Copyright, 2013 Brad Waters. This article may not be reproduced or published without permission from the author. If you share it, please give author credit and do not remove embedded links.

Brad Waters, L.C.S.W. is a career and well-being expert based in Chicago. He is also a freelance writer with a background in social work and holistic health care.


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