Dear Coach Paradise,
Your column last week couldnt have been more timely in light of the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech and all of the coverage that has been in the papers, on TV and on the radio. It reminds me of 9/11 as I find myself sucked into watching as much of it as possible and devouring every detail even as I feel like crying much of the time.
I keep imagining what it must have been like to be those students and to be their parents. I told my daughter that I was reconsidering whether I was going to let her go to college at all.
I am anxious and fearful, and the world seems an ominous and scary place. I am having trouble sleeping. Should I just turn everything off and shut it all out? I am wondering what to do?
Glued to the TV
What you are describing are symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome), even though you are experiencing the trauma secondhand. If your symptoms continue and grow worse, please see a mental health professional.
The words sucked into and devouring are metaphors for feeling out of control. The media usually portrays bad news and highly charged negative scenarios that trigger fear and anxiety — chemical reactions in our brains and bodies of a primal fight or flight nature. All while you are sitting in front of your TV, reading the paper or listening to the radio.
The fact that you know there is something wrong with this picture and wrote to ask me about it shows that you are about to flip the switch and change the channel.
Reacting to news of devastation and horror with tears and sadness is a normal part of being a compassionate human being. After allowing yourself to experience your feelings, you get to choose how you want to BE and ACT.
Perhaps you do want to focus on something entirely unrelated, something happy and upbeat that will remind you that there is still joy and love in the world. Perhaps you want to focus on some of the discussions that are arising out of what happened our mental health system, the responsibility of professors and college administrators, gun control.
Perhaps you want to explore the spiritual and philosophical dimensions of when bad things happen to good people and the healing power of forgiveness and prayer.
The point is: you get to choose. You do have the power to decide who you want to be and how you want to show up. This may require sitting quietly, away from the constant barrage of images and words that keep you from listening to your inner self. By doing this you will be able to tap into your true power and focus on how you would like things to be and on the changes that you long to see in the world. Be the change you want to see in the world, as Gandhi said. Remember, you are responsible. We all are.
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.
Coach Paradise: Coping With Tragedy, Even Secondhand
Dear Coach Paradise,
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