- Jennifer Stafford
Over the past few months, our society has grown increasingly familiar with images of people huddled together and hysterical over senseless loss of life. Whether it is a mass shooting here or a cowardly killing there, adults are feeling frustrated and fearful while children are curiously inquiring. The exposure is happening and there really is no hiding from it. Covering every surface, from Facebook to the front page of nearly every newspaper, some of us might be experiencing overwhelming emotions and not quite sure what to do with them.
A good first step in trying to manage your emotions around all the violence and trauma we have been experiencing as a nation lately, is to validate how you are being impacted. If you are feeling frustrated, sad, disappointed, fearful or hurt validate those feelings for yourself. Don't wait for anyone else to do it for you, engaging in a back and forth about something so emotional often increases the experience of unpleasant emotions. It is human and natural to be disturbed or impacted by what you are seeing on television and being exposed to via the various realms of media.
Allow yourself time to sit with your feelings about what you have been seeing and how it has been making you feel or think. Then support yourself with encouraging thoughts rooted in hope and the belief that pain won't plague our nation for much longer.
If you are a parent, first acknowledge your emotions around the issue and take care of yourself and then reiterate to your child that they are safe and will continue to be safe. Depending upon their age, limiting their exposure is crucial as developmentally they might not be able to fully process everything. Young children should not carry the burden of worry, as a parent it is your job to protect them. Which highlights the importance of adults making sure they respond to their emotional needs appropriately. Disregarding or avoiding how we are being emotionally impacted sets the stage for a buildup of emotional pain. That very same build up of pain and hurt is what perpetuates the poor decision making of those that use violence to make a point.