More and more, tragic events are taking place in our world. And because of the ever-constant stream of news and social media, we are all hyper-aware of these events.
So what do we do? How do we cope when the energy around us is heavy with grief, sorrow, anger, judgment, blaming, cynicism, rage, or all of that combined?
Here’s what I have to offer:
Obviously, for the families and friends directly involved in these tragedies—meaning those who have lost loved ones or have loved ones injured—there is going to be grief. This is normal and natural. All sorts of feelings and thoughts can arise during a grief process. It is a time of great adjustment from what life has been up until the point of tragedy, into what it is now.
Grief is also often a time of great uncertainty. It can be very unnerving to feel uncertain. At the same time, it can also offer some of our greatest life lessons and opportunities, if we are willing and okay with staying open to look for and receive them in time.
What I’ve come to see in the face of great tragedy is that many others in the world will mourn for the victims and their families.
This is also a very common and normal reaction. I think that we are drawn to mourning for those involved in tragedy because we are displaying empathy, and also because it can bring up those similar feelings or fears within ourselves.
For instance, we as humans often fear death—our own, or the death of our loved ones—so when we see it happen on a large scale, we often become afraid.
In addition, we often react more deeply to things that may hold greater association to parts of our own identity.
If we know or have children, for instance, we may react more strongly to the death of a child. If we are a part of a group of people who may have been targeted in tragedy, we might feel more shaken up by it.
Or, even if we healthily allow for our hearts to be open, we may naturally pick up on the heavy energies around us that often come with great tragedy, and we may begin to mirror those energies.
Also, regardless of world tragedy, we often have anger or sadness residing deep within our beings to begin with.
At times, maybe those feelings have been there for years, building up over the experiences of our lives.
When great tragedy happens, it can give us the impetus to bring more of those feelings up and out of the recesses of our minds and hearts.
This is a normal and healthy process. How we handle this process over the days, weeks, and months following tragedy is what helps to determine our current and future levels of emotional and mental health and stability.
Sometimes, the feelings we have may feel so overwhelming that we may be drawn to other ways of acting in order to try to cope.
We may try to escape our feelings in any number of ways. We may try to put off feeling them by doing all sorts of other things, perhaps at times, in more extreme ways. We may feel numb and paralyzed, drawn to watching the events and reports of the tragedy nonstop, not able to pull ourselves away.
We may try to stuff our feelings down, only for them to come out in other ways in our lives later on. We may retreat inside our homes or our hearts, hoping to find some deeper sense of security and stability.
We may become paranoid and fearful, feeling desperate to protect ourselves at all costs. Or we may feel greatly on the defense, which may come out in our conversations with others around us.
We may snap at our families or co-workers. We may find ourselves drawn to watching shows or movies that make us cry or make us feel angry or combative. We may at times unintentionally provoke arguments with others, online or offline, in order to release more of our anger, frustration, or feelings of powerlessness.
We see a lot of these types of coping mechanisms being used all over the world during times of great tragedy.
I fully believe that how we respond to these types of situations is a great window into our own current states of mental and emotional health.
“There are people in the world who are dead and in pain right now. Why should this tragedy have anything to do with my own personal mental and emotional health?”
That’s a great question!
Truthfully, I believe that how we react to world tragedy, or anything in our lives, for that matter, can be a great window into our own states of mental and emotional health.
These kinds of tragedies often magnify everything on a large scale. That means they sometimes may magnify everything within us as well, on a larger scale.
For instance, if we feel drawn to numbing with substances, food, etc., we might find it curious to ask ourselves this: Are we really just trying to numb ourselves from the pain of this particular tragedy, or might there be other ares in our lives which we are trying to not feel or process?
If we’re drawn to reacting in fear or paranoia, is there else in our lives might we really be so afraid of, and why? How may we be able to feel resolution of those fears—within ourselves?
If we’re drawn to reacting with anger, rage, or deep frustration, is there anything else, besides this tragedy, which might we be really angry or deeply frustrated at within our own lives, and why? And how might we be able to find resolution of those feelings—within ourselves—again, not conditional to the outside world?
These are questions that, when courageously asked, answered, reflected on, and processed, will help us move out of so many of those feelings which don’t feel good to us long-term.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel any of these “non-happy” feelings if they arise within us.
If you know me by now, you know that I am all about feeling what is present within you at any given time and finding healthy ways to release those feelings. And suppressing or avoiding our real feelings in favor of trying to force ourselves to feel happier or any other more positive way will only come back to bite us in the long run.
However, if we really take time to reflect on what this tragedy may be magnifying within our own lives, if anything, we may find ourselves better able, in our own personal timing, to come to a sense of acceptance, peace, or resolution about the tragedy or whatever else it may be magnifying in our own lives.
How do we do this?
The more we can naturally practice coming to places of peace, love, satisfaction, and compassion more regularly within our hearts and minds—not by suppressing our feelings but by working through our fears, our anger, our grief, our sadness, our senses of powerlessness, etc., in our everyday lives—the greater we can come to exist as the truest parts of ourselves.
And the truest parts of ourselves are nothing but love, compassion, kindness, and connection—within ourselves and with others.
I offer the following words with a pure intention of comfort to you and to anyone who reads this reflection:
Whether or not you believe that death is the end of your existence, you can come to be at great peace with your own life in time. You may lose this sense of peace from time to time. But you can trust that you can find your way back in your own best timing.
Even if you lose your body, and we all will someday, your essence still remains. Whether you believe that this essence continues in some non-physical place of existence or perhaps simply within the minds and hearts of those whose lives you impacted while you were here, your essence still remains.
When you can come to be at such great peace with your own life, you can come to have less fear about your own death or the deaths of others around you. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel afraid of losing a loved one, or that you won't grieve if you do. But it does mean you might live in less fear of losing them, or of losing your own life, while you are both still alive.
Even if you lose all the loved ones around you, you can still survive. You can even thrive. This may sound impossible to fathom. But it is entirely possible.
Even if you are injured for life, you can survive and thrive. So many people throughout history have done this. They have given us hope that if anything should happen to us, we can survive and thrive also. We may not believe it. But if we haven’t experienced anything like this, we never know how much inner strength we can develop if we did indeed experience it.
We may be afraid of the pain. But we can survive the pain, whether physical, emotional, or mental. Our minds and hearts are stronger than we realize, and they can have profound influences on our bodies.
We may be afraid of being targeted because we are a part of a certain group of people. Even if we are a part of any group of people who may or may not be targeted for any reason, if we can find great peace within ourselves and with our own lives, we can come to not fear death. It’s definitely possible.
Your path on this earth up to this point always has been and always will continue to be perfect.
That doesn’t mean you haven’t made mistakes. But it means that your path has led you to exactly where you are now, and you have had the opportunities to learn and grow from and through all of your experiences.
Your path on this earth is always perfect, no matter how it may seem to be at any given time. It is perfect because it is always allowing you to receive lessons that will help you grow.
Even if you have made mistakes—and who hasn’t?!—I truly believe that there is nothing—NOTHING—you have or haven’t done that is unforgivable. If you balk at this statement, you may be able to come in time to send so much deep love and forgiveness to the person who may need it the most—that is yourself.
You are always significant in this world.
The fact that you are here is one of the most significant, amazing, beautiful miracles that could have ever happened! Again, you may not believe this, due to messages from family, friends, the world, or your own mind trying to tell you otherwise. But the truth is that you are always significant. Your life matters more than you may ever know.
No matter who has or has not seen you, you matter.
No matter who has or has not heard you, you matter.
No matter what anyone has or has not said to you, you matter.
No matter what you’ve thought or felt about yourself or others, you matter.
No matter what experiences you’ve lived through or haven’t experienced yet, you matter.
No matter what you’ve gone through, and no matter what you’re going through right now, YOU MATTER.
No matter what your hopes and dreams ever were or are, YOU MATTER.
No matter who has or has not loved you, YOU MATTER.
No matter what fears you may feel, YOU MATTER.
No matter how angry you may feel, no matter how powerless you may feel, no matter how frustrated, how cynical, how bitter, how jealous, how sad, how much grief, YOU MATTER.
No matter how much you’ve struggled through life, YOU MATTER.
No matter if you feel you’ve found meaning in your life or if you feel you haven’t yet, YOU MATTER.
Your life matters. Your being matters. Your existence matters! And the love you have to offer yourself and the world is like no other, because no other expresses that love in the same way that you do.
I can’t force you to believe any of these words, nor would I want to.
All I can do is present them to you, time and time again. I can tell you often that you are worthy, you are deserving, and you are good enough—because I believe it’s true. Whether or not you choose to believe that, or to believe in any of these or similar words for yourself, is up to you.
All I can say is that if you choose to believe in any of these deeply self-affirming ideals, you have the power to transform your mind and your heart in ways you may have never imagined before.
And as you transform, you can indeed come to places of great peace, great love, great compassion, great forgiveness, and great acceptance—of your life, of the lives of others around you, and of the lives of anyone else in this world, no matter what they have or haven’t done. It doesn't mean you will always stay in those peaceful states. But you can indeed find what it feels like to experience them. I believe that is the journey of all of our lives, no matter how long or how short. And what a journey! What a journey indeed.
Tragedies can indeed shake us up. But in time, they can guide us to the deepest cores of ourselves, to the deepest truths that lie within each of us.
And they can lead us to understand that no matter what happens in this world, we will ultimately be okay. No matter what happens to our body, our essence will live on. And no matter what happens in our minds and hearts, we can grow in deeper awareness and deeper levels of happiness, peace, and acceptance of ourselves and everyone else around us and in this world. And we can know at the very same time that whatever we feel right now and whatever we've been through, we are still good enough as we are.
If we really can come more and more consistently to peace within our hearts and minds, we can live our lives more and more overall with less fear, anxiety, or worry about tragedies out of our control. And if we should feel any of those feelings, we can know that we can feel them, allow them to pass, and in time find our way back to peace once again.
We can know that we’re always doing our best and have always done so in our lives, no matter what has ever happened. And we can truly live, because we can trust that in our hearts and minds, all is well, so that even if we fall away from that truth, we can always come back to it and know that all can always be well within.
And that is quite the priceless gift, isn’t it?
I send great peace and love to all in the world, in the midst of whatever may be happening in it and in our own lives. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved. And you matter. Now and always.
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I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a personal note through my Contact page, or leave a comment below. Do you grieve during times of world tragedy? If so, how do you come back to a state of hopefulness and peace within your heart and mind?
Looking to become more aware of what is in your own mind and heart, so that you can grow in even deeper levels of peace and contentment? Check out my first book right here.
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,