Perceptions of Safety and Security

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Many people continue to struggle with questions and deep emotional reactions in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut last Friday.

Questions such as “Why did this happen?” and “How could this happen?” are essentially dysfunctional questions because we seek answers where there are none. We’ve heard speculation about mental illness, rants about gun control, the role of the media and that it’s ”because we’ve taken God out of schools.” We hate that we cannot control our environment; casting blame and pointing fingers because we believe we can prevent tragedy from happening if we just cover all the bases. We quickly and desperately attempt to switch our focus to the positive – heroes, courage, remembrance and love. Trying to find a reason behind a senseless act, attempting to apply logic to actions that are illogical is like using a metric-based wrench designed to work on a Fiat to work on your Chevy. It doesn’t work no matter how hard you try. The exercise is futile. In this case, we feel afraid and completely off-balance. A deliberate mass murder of children is unthinkable, and our sense of order and safety in the world has once again been shattered.

Safety and Security Are An Illusion

Our brains are designed to protect us with a certain level of denial to tolerate inherent environmental risks so that we can function in our daily lives. If the system didn’t work this way, we could be so fearful we would never leave our homes, never smile at the cashier in the grocery store or make a presentation at work. We might not marry or even HAVE children. People often develop full-blown anxiety disorders when their brain allows them to obsess on FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real.

I love this saying a friend shared on Facebook: “Fear does not stop death. It stops life.” We can find ways to avoid decision-making based in fear and a need for “safety.” We can empower ourselves to manage fear and uncertainty. (We’ll address this topic in the January teleclass series.)

In closing, I want to share this (rediscovered) quote/litany I remember reading many years ago.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. – Frank Herbert

Blessings and Peace to you, through the Christmas season and in the New Year.

*Additional resource: Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting. (American Psychological Association).

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