Should I Stress Out or Let It Go?
Posted Dec 19, 2012
Nowadays there's so much to get stressed about with both Hurricane Sandy and the terrible events of Newtown making us aware of how fragile everything really is. Horror happens in this world. It just does. And, there is little good that can come from being violated. Yet, we still have life.
Yet, there's value to finding useful perpective in the midst of these mind-numbing tragedies.
Ask yourself some simple questions:
• Can you give up false beliefs that gets in the way of happiness?
• Do you really need to be so competitive? It’s exhausting.
• You don’t like your thighs; well don’t you think it’s time to get over it?
• Do you appreciate what you have, or do you take it all for granted?
So, how do you go out and find perspecive?
You celebrate a baby naming, a wedding, a graduation, or any wonderful life changing event and you experience perspective. That's one reason why these life cycle moments are so inspiring.
But there's another way to gain perspective—and it's not a happy way.
You go to a funeral, a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer; you’ve been told that you have high blood pressure; your sister’s getting divorced. You read about injustice or sorrow. You listen to President Obama talk about the senseless loss of children. You can sit in despair - and that is reasonable—but you may also reach for perspective about your life.
According to Gerson, Super Storm Sandy, and the hell of Newtown so soon thereafter, shakes us into a moment of collective perspective. There is humanity in natural tragedy—and there is love to be found, even in the midst of human evil. We must pull together.
Sandy: Virtually all of us in Sandy’s path were stressed, whether we experienced a prolonged power outage and subsequent days of darkness and cold, or were fortunate enough to be sources of refuge for those hit harder than we were.
Newtown: With Newtown, our darkness was spiritual. No consoling makes sense.
Sandy: The night of the storm, many of us huddled against an uncertain and calamitous outcome. Stress hormones in our bodies were secreted in a vigorous and prolonged way, and that neurological/hormonal activation, coupled with the added physical effort of keeping warm, was exhausting.
Newtown: No words. We identify with children, with the teachers who bravely put themselves in harms way, with the children who survived, and with the parents who have to deal with the unspeakable. Stress hormones, fight-flight and no where to go. Exhaustion becomes anguish.
Sandy and Newtown: In such a physiologically heightened time, many of us experienced a level of threat akin to invasion from an enemy, and our response was to band together with neighbors and strangers; the ordinary distinctions that stratify society blur as Nature and Man made them irrelevant with two enormous, all-powerful strokes.
The vast majority of us bonded in our pain and disorientation. It's a scary mess. With Sandy, the next morning, we found ourselves looking at rubble and devastation, each of us feeling small, humbled and helpless. With Newtown, innocence itself was ablated.
Sandy: The big storm cost us time, lost income, expenditures for repairs, and challenged our capacity to cope and adapt. Rebuilding will be slow; for many the resumption of an income stream can’t come fast enough, as we struggle to make ends meet. Anxiety prevails, despite the fact that the storm itself has passed.
Newtown: And then, this. In the same place as Nature's terrible storm, we have a human storm. Some combination of firearms, a psychotic young man and desperation unleashed its force on too many innocents. Anxiety prevails, but now it is for the safety of our children—and the stability of our country. What can we trust if we can' t believe in the safety of an elementary school?
Here is my prescription for keeping your wits about you:
1. Don't deal with the stress of these events alone.
2. Talk about your stress and your worries with friends and family.
3. We need to build community for emotional and physical support.
4. Keep TV & Radio to the level that you can handle.
5. Get help if you need it. Think of therapy as part of our extended community.
6. Please don’t fail to be actively appreciative of a friend, family member or the stranger in the supermarket. America needs community—and it starts with all of us.
7. Be a healer youself. Reach out to others hurt by Sandy or to those assisting families in Newtown. It may be by offering help or making a contribution. What you do counts—to them and to you.
8. Find perspective. Life has blessings and it has curses. Choose the good.
Remember, you are not alone.
Now more than ever, see yourself as part of the Family of Man.