At times it feels like the world is crumbling around us.
We cannot look away from these heartbreakingly difficult times. They must be noticed and acknowledged to not be ignored.
We also cannot let the horror of war take more casualties.
This is one of the hardest articles to write. There’s nothing I can say that’s going to make the news of the last week better.
Here are a few ideas to help you find ways to tolerate this current pain. Because having this destroy you as well, doesn’t do anybody any good. While we are powerless individually to stop the atrocities, we are powerful (on some level) together in helping to share empathy, compassion, kindness, and love to those around us.
As best you can, during these hard times:
- Read your news — and manage your news intake. We do not need to SEE all the bloodshed across the 24/hour news cycle to know what is happening. Rewatching a traumatic event, even once, can be too much for your nervous system to handle, let alone watching and hearing at the same time. Taking in this information in several senses will further traumatize you and make it harder to bring your grounded self to the world. That is part of how trauma ingrains itself in your brain. It is too much! Be informed. Read the news in the morning or afternoon for a bit, and not before bed. Setting boundaries around news-intake is critical to help you endure this trauma and stay present to help yourself and others. Remember … not watching the news doesn’t mean we’re looking away; it just means we cannot let this destroy us.
- Notice the people around you and be a safe space. Amidst the fear, do what you can to feel safe enough. Find the people you can lean on, support one another, and hold hope.
- Do everything you can to maintain your empathy, compassion, and kindness! Take care of yourself through whatever acts of care safely help you. Take action to reduce the stress you’re feeling and calm your nervous system. We want to live in a world with care!
- Hold the pain and keep living. We must continue to live and experience the joy in life AND of course, hold the pain … our own and those of our loved ones and communities. We must feel ALL our emotions.
- Parents/Caregivers: Stay whole and talk to your children. As we work to keep our young people safe, we need to keep talking. Talking to each other, talking to children. We already know it’s so unsettling to live amongst fear, including for children to live with a frightened parent. Here are some resources on how to talk with kids about the war in Gaza and Israel and how to explain the Israel-Hamas war to your children.
As a human being, let alone a Jewish therapist, I cannot know what’s going on without tears running down my face. I am taking my own advice and setting boundaries around how much and what I watch on TV — what images I can tolerate viewing. At this time, the most helpful thing I can do is to caretake my emotional self, to stay safe and whole, so I can hold the pain of others — so they can keep on going!
Coming together as a trauma-informed community is the way we endure this pain, and have hope for a brighter future. (I think we can all agree that killing and murder — forcing trauma onto innocent people — is NOT okay. Can we let that bring us together?)
Being models of safety and kindness is how we teach the next generation.
Living in fear will not help.
Increasing our trauma by continually watching the news will not help.
For all those hurting, I see you. I am you.
Let’s feel our pain, and also feel our love.
As a community, we can bring kindness, empathy, safety, and stabilization. We can come together in offering compassion and respect to those who are similar and different from us.
We can hold each other’s pain.
We can be sources for each other’s joy.
Living in the world right now means that you are enduring trauma. Thankfully the trauma survivors in our lives remind us that healing is possible, and that trauma doesn’t have to be our only definition!