How to Soothe Loved Ones Concerning Violence

I’m sorry to say I was invited to support a town hall recently that was dealing with scared adolescents and families concerning a recent planned shooting and bombing. It was sad and scary, and I said that. I couldn’t help but be transparent about the grim nature of it all. I also wanted to share with you how grateful I felt that the council members had so much thoughtfulness to invite multiple healing providers and listened deeply and with action to their constituents. I was moved by their responsiveness and care.

Folks were eager to learn about some of the suggestions I identified in a PDF so I’ll share those with you below. These are ways in which we can support young people dealing with school shootings and to connect with our own inner scared parts for love and attunement.

Always of course have a safety plan and discuss that together. Also, here are some suggestions for big feelings regarding scary things happening at school. 

  1. Acknowledge big feelings by reflecting like a mirror. 
    1. For example “I hear you saying you feel scared and numb” and you can see this to a friend or to yourself if you’re giving your inner world a chance to be heard too.
  1. You can honor big feelings for short periods of time and then reengage in parasympathetic nervous system activities. 
    1. Cry, write, feel, or talk and feel the feelings fully for a few minutes.  
    2. And then do some parasympathetic nervous system activities such as taking slow breaths from the bottom of your belly. 
  1. Reconnect with the greater good in whatever way that looks for you. 
    1. For example some might look at a tree outside a window or take a mindful minute to notice what they notice in their body. 
  1. Check in with someone to make sure you don’t have acute trauma like new sleep problems or feel jumpy/on edge.  You can talk with a school counselor or community member; sometimes the best listeners are the ones who just listen the way we like.  
    1. We can also ask someone to listen in a way that feels so good for you like “can you please listen to my words and nod when you hear me, but not give me advice?”
  1. Give yourself some limits. 
    1. Check out what you can do for the next couple of weeks so you can be gentle with yourself and your schedule if possible.  
    2. Check out our Podcast episode on how to handle social media when the world seems scary here.

Wishing you safety and ease in your nervous system and the world today.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

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