When you hear of a massive tragedy like mass shootings or floods, what goes on inside you….Does your heart sink? Does time slow down? Do you feel disoriented and confused?
After the initial shock wears off, maybe you’re unsure how to relate with what happened.
Should you post about it on social media? Resume everyday activities? Follow the news coverage? Pray? Donate money?
Assuming you’re not able to lend direct and firsthand support, you might be unsure how to make a meaningful contribution. You might even feel a degree of helplessness or overwhelm.
Please know that there’s no one-size-fits-all way to respond to the tragedies you read about in the news.
We all must determine what feels personally right for us.
Something To Consider
There is a way to respond to another’s misfortune that deeply honors what they went through, while also ensuring at least one positive outcome from their experience.
It’s a sentiment that originates with the therapeutic work I do.
In my field, we see that one of the most common challenges at the root of clients’ suffering is that they’re carrying emotional or energetic burdens for their ancestors (unresolved sadness, despair, anger, relationship patterns, etc.).
This is often the case, for example, with clients whose relatives were harmed in the holocaust. They may find it difficult to embrace happiness in their own lives because on a deep level, they’re intimately concerned with the horrors their ancestors endured during Nazi rule.
Similar phenomena can be seen in families where loved ones have been affected by slavery, famine, emigration, war, losing a child, and so on.
The younger ones, or sometimes the person/people who “survived,” hold onto a kind of “You suffered, and so shall I” show of solidarity. It’s an impulse born of love, but it sadly does nothing to break the pattern of victimhood in the family. It also does nothing to ease burdens and create a sense of peace for the ancestors.
Instead, there is a simple phrase that can shift the dynamic out of tragedy and into hope. Here it is:
In honor of what you went through,
I will do something special with my life.
With this, the “victim” is acknowledged in a real way, while also learning that his or her legacy will not be one of victimhood – but of positive influence moving forward.
It’s an expression of love that doesn’t weaken or mire anyone down, and instead uplifts people and strengthens bonds.
An Invitation for You
Is there a particular recent tragedy that’s pulling at your heart?
Begin to imagine how you might do something special in your own life – right where you are – in honor of those who’ve suffered. (It may or may not be directly related to the nature of what occurred.)
Here are some ideas…
~ Love the heck out of the people (and animals) in your life – in a more present, committed way than ever before.
~ Help your child get through college so he or she can become a great doctor, inventor, leader, etc.
~ Host community potlucks where neighbors come together and build bonds.
~ Treat yourself well – get help for an addiction or get out of an unhealthy situation.
~ Plant a special tree or garden in your neighborhood.
There are so many ways you can channel your life force to have a positive impact on the future.
What action feels right for you?
It’s okay if this takes you a little while to find your answer. Simply hold the inquiry in your heart, and welcome an opportunity to act.
By intentionally living into your potential and applying your life force for good, you change the trajectory of tragic events. Instead of causing further harm, they become legacies of love that nurture future generations.
Remember how powerful you are. Take the love in your heart and share it in a way that only you can.
With love, Lexi