Moms everywhere- including my clients- are asking me how they can feel comfortable sending their kids to school these days. They are questioning if it’s even safe to take their kids to Target or the grocery store in fear of the next mass-shooting.
For people with anxiety, one of the common ways to reduce fear is to review the facts of the situation, and to then realize that many of the worst case scenarios they worry about are unlikely to happen.
But in the case of random gun violence, it turns out it ISN’T irrational to be worried about public shootings. The rash of mass shooting that have recently swept the nation are the facts. The worst case scenarios are actually happening- and are happening randomly. So if you happen to have any pre-existing anxiety issues, these shootings are likely to activate your already-hyper-vigilant nervous system to the extreme.
The question is: how can the average person feel safe in the world right now, especially those with pre-existing Anxiety Disorders who are prone to feeling unsafe in many contexts?
“How can the average person feel safe in the world right now,
especially those with pre-existing Anxiety Disorders,
who are prone to already feeling unsafe?“
Fortunately, our Advanced Holistic Counseling tm helps our clients to achieve more peace and positivity- even in these difficult times- by pairing Traditional Psychotherapy with the very best Holistic Tools.
Below you will find a 4-Step Process I’ve used with several of my clients to help them feel grounded, safe enough, and clear when they are overwhelmed. The goal for all of us is to stay functional and focused on thriving while living in a world where safety is not guaranteed.
“Since we can’t lock our kids in the house for the next 20 years or move to Canada, parents everywhere need solid techniques to help us cope with the worry about random violence.”
STEP 1: ALWAYS START BY PRACTICING “DIALECTICAL RADICAL ACCEPTANCE”
(I recently coined the new phrase “Dialectical Radical Acceptance” because it captures both of the strengths of being “dialectical” and “radically accepting”)
The first step to feel more grounded and sane during these confusing times is to radically accept how you are feeling. It’s important to make sense of all of your conflicting thoughts and feeling by radically accepting each of them and validating that each one exists.
Step 1 is likely to make you feel relieved and it looks like this:
“I radically accept that I am feeling really unsafe”
“I radically accept that it’s normal to feel unsafe and scared at this time”
“I radically accept that this is triggering my desire to hyper-control life or crawl into bed and just give up. I radically accept that these unpredictable and depressing events are triggering my anxiety/ depression/ trauma/control issues/etc.”
“I radically accept that I won’t be able to control life entirely and that I need to keep a healthy balance between living a normal, functional life in an unpredictable world.“
“I radically accept that that there are no guarantees that life always be safe, but I can focus on the concept that life is mostly SAFE ENOUGH“
“I radically accept that I might need to put some extra effort in to using more tools to reduce my anxiety and stress. I radically accept that I need to be willing to do this.”
“I radically accept that I’m soooo tired of anxiety, I’m mad at these shooters, and I’m annoyed that life has to be this way”
“I radically accept that I can take one step at a time, one moment at a time, and I will get through this.”
STEP 2: RELEASE YOUR PHYSICAL STRESS RESPONSE
Humans are animals have an automatic stress response built in to protect them. When we are afraid, our bodies equip us to fight , flight, or freeze by releasing adrenaline into our system.
So what happens when we 1) have thoughts that make us feel anxious, stressed, freaked out, or angry…
2) have adrenaline dumped into our system … 3) but we DON’T fight or run?
Well, if we don’t fight or run, the adrenaline just sits in our blood stream and makes us feel tweaked, hypervigilant, irritable, nervous, overwhelmed, antsy, and trapped.
The fact is, once you are feeling stressed out, you MUST reduce the adrenaline in your physical body if you want to emotionally feel better. There is no other way.
So, if you’ve been feeling anxious about the recent string of random gun violence, you have two options to reduce the adrenaline in your blood stream if you want to feel better.
1) Use diaphragmatic (belly) breathing often because engaging the diaphragm actually sucks adrenaline out of your body.
2) Use exercise like jumping jacks, sprints, walking, jumping rope, or getting on the peloton or treadmill so that you can deplete the adrenaline and bring your body back to a baseline.
This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6U3dg3GPqY
is a fast, experiential guide I made to show you how to “belly breath” most effectively
STEP 3: FOCUS ON A CENTERING AFFIRMATION OR A MEANINGFUL “WHY”
We need to have an intentional focus to not only get through hard times, but also to thrive.
This gives us a “why” for using our coping skills and navigating challenges.
Centering Affirmations like these are most helpful when they are repeated frequently throughout the day. You should expect to say these things to yourself anywhere between 10-100 times a day to interrupt your negative mindset and to keep you focused on how you want to feel.
Repeat any of these affirmations frequently, or create one of your own
Repeating the Serenity Prayer
“Life is not always safe, but it is safe enough most of the time”
“I surrender this to love”
“I choose to focus on love instead of this fear”
“I am capable and resilient”
“I will simply put one foot in front of the other”
“I can do this”
“I am a source of calm strength for others and for my children”
“I make wise decisions “
“This too will pass, nothing is permanent”
“Everyday I am becoming stronger and more resilient”
“We can do hard things, I can do hard things.”
“I must stay in the light, otherwise the dark wins”
“I am an intentional creator that helps lift myself and others up”
“I lead with compassion first”
“I trust, I trust, I trust”
STEP 4: CHANNEL YOUR ENERGY INTO ACTIVITES THAT MAKE YOUR FEEL EMPOWERED
Sometimes we love the people in our lives soooo much that we can end of worrying endlessly about them. Worry and fear are simply love gone awry. “Step 4” helps us to stay in more positive feelings by channeling worry energy into activities that make us feel like we are a part of the solution. Feeling empowered feels so much better than feeling helpless and hopeless.
Here are some ways to channel your worry into positive, empowering activities:
1.Send healing light or prayers to everyone you are concerned about. Every time you start to worry about a person or issue, bathe it in a golden, white healing energy. Sending healing energy to the people you love gives you something useful to do when you feel helpless….and actually might calm or heal them.
2.Become part of the solution. Channel your energy into volunteering, taking action steps, or helping in small or big ways to be a part of the change you want to see in the world.
3.Focus on strengths and feed your gratitude. Be grateful for the positive. Count every blessing. Think of ways the situation could be worse. Often things could be worse. Go on a “rampage of appreciation”.
STEPS 5 : ADD EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUES (EFT) TO STEPS 1-4
EFT is a therapeutic tools that can be used to program in each step. Your therapist can help you to “tap” on your acupuncture points while reinforcing the radical acceptance statements, affirmations, or discussing how to channel the energy into empowering activities.
The school shootings and other recent gun violence is angering, frightening, and shocking for most people, and can be even more overwhelming for those with pre-existing anxiety disorder. Use these steps to help you feel grounded again, and to help you find the strength and focus to continue to thrive even when life is chaotic.
Beth Miller, LCSW-R, CEC, CAHC is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Life Coach, energy healer, meditation teacher, and spiritual counselor in private practice in Sayville, Long Island, New York USA. She is the owner of the group practice POSITIVE ENERGY Holistic Counseling & Institute where she and her fabulous team of therapists use the breakthrough model Advanced Holistic Counseling to create transformational change in their clients. Beth is the creator of the trademarked Advanced Holistic Counseling: modern therapy that combines the very best of traditional psychotherapy with life coaching, energy healing, science, and spirituality. Now, Licensed Therapists can learn how to experience huge transformation in themselves, their clients, and their careers by becoming Certified in Advanced Holistic Counseling. For free holistic and psychotherapy tools, visit the POSITIVE ENERGY Holistic Counseling & Institute youtube channel.