Back to normal life….
So how do we deal with the fact that the world isn’t safe, that there are traumatized, desperate, angry, malevolent, or psychotic people out there who can create destruction and chaos? There is no perfect answer, but the strategies below may help you get back to your normal life:
Acknowledge your feelings about the event
Don’t try to just shove your feelings down because that just doesn’t work long-term. Take some time to connect with your anger, fear, or sadness. Feel it in your body and understand that these are normal reactions to a trauma—even one experienced vicariously.
Practice radical acceptance
Acknowledge that the world isn’t completely safe and that you don’t have complete control over what happens to you, but make a decision not to let this derail you. It’s ok to compartmentalize and deliberately focus your attention back on your own life and what is most important for you to do today. There's no need to feel guilty. You didn't do anything wrong.
Don’t overestimate the personal danger
When mass shootings happen, the horror of the event makes us overestimate the likelihood of this type of event happening to us. In reality, there are millions of people who go to concerts or visit Vegas without experiencing harm. Try to get out of the “fight or flight” alarm response and take a step back so you can logically evaluate the likelihood of personal danger.
Do something active to cope
Taking action to soothe your feelings, express your anger, or reach out to the victims can be very helpful. Talk to other people, donate money, or write down your thoughts and feelings. Think about volunteering for a cause like stopping child abuse, which is often the cause of adult violence. Advocate for better prevention and treatment of mental health and addictions.
Try to live a meaningful life despite societal trauma
Focus on the good that you can do in the world and the things that make your life meaningful. You can’t stop all the bad things in the world but you can live by your values, speak up against injustice, and be a positive influence in your family and community.
The best response to mass shootings and other traumas is to acknowledge and express the pain, share it with others, take steps to soothe and comfort yourself, and then take action to build a positive, healthy life and contribute to creating a better world despite the challenges.