People Just Keep Dying! How Not to Become Numb?
It usually starts with a question. Did you hear what happened in France? You scramble to find a computer and brace yourself as the story unfolds in front of you.
And then begins the struggle of integrating what has happened with what you know and love about the world. In the wake of so many mass killings, it can be a struggle to hold on to empathy. Perhaps you are among thousands who just feel they cannot take any more, can’t bear to listen to another interview with a grieving parent, or stomach the gruesome images on the screen.
In the aftermath of a tragedy it can be hard to stay in touch with crucial emotions such as compassion and hope. It becomes increasingly more difficult to remain connected and grounded as we witness the human carnage in front of us week after week.
How do we keep putting one foot in front of the other?
It Becomes Too Much to Handle
Instead we sometimes become numb. This kind of numbness is different than apathy. It is self-preservation. In the face of trauma, defense mechanisms such as suppression and dissociation are activated.
If you have been judging yourself for not wanting to follow the news about the Bastille Day tragedy, or any of the other many recent acts of sadism, it is important to know that you are not alone.
These Mass Killings are Attacks Against Human Beings and the Human Spirit
A few key words bring us back to an all too familiar pain. Geographic locations trigger visceral reminders of the loss of human life: France, Minnesota, Dallas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Boston, Virginia Tech, Columbine. The list goes on and on.
These attacks have not only been against human life, they have been attacks against the human spirit. It becomes so difficult not to go numb. Sometimes the numbness is the very thing that allows us to keep functioning. It is our defense from despair.
How to Protect Ourselves Without Denying Truth
The answer cannot be to succumb entirely to the desire to disconnect from these horrifying realities. It is often said that the opposite of Love is Indifference, not Hatred. So perhaps in cases of mass murder, the way to combat hatred is to combat the risk of indifference within ourselves.
We can do this by actively working to remember how much we care.
As a human race, we have a responsibility to honor the truth of what has happened. And as individuals it can be difficult to connect to the trauma of every single individual that is lost. We we can still remain educated and stand in solidarity with the victims and their families.
In Between Numbness and Despair there is a Place Called Hope
I do not know what the global solution is to this problem, but I do know that in between numbness and despair there is a place called Hope. It is important to remember that hope is a verb. Sometimes we have to actively fight the tide to look for it.
When we find ourselves being pulled toward either numbness or despair, balance is the thing that will help ground us in our efforts to find hopefulness. It is important to stay connected to our true feelings about what has happened, while also maintaining a healthy distance from the onslaught of tragic images and stories.
What are we supposed to do?
There are exponentially more people in the world working to spread love than those spreading hatred and fear.
Keep holding on to your commitment to preserve both your joy of life and compassion for suffering. Thank you for clicking on this article you as a small step in this very difficult, sometimes seemingly impossible process.
Remember the importance of self care. Click here for a seven minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise to help you transition back into your day.
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