What Can I Do? The World Is So Dark!

In the face of continued loss and tragedy in our world, we heard from many of you saying:

“I’m so overwhelmed that I’m paralyzed. What can I do?”

These are dark times, with many people on both sides of the aisle still grieving the election and the resulting divisions.

We find ourselves stunned by blatant acts of racism, sexism and homophobia in our country, as well as the escalating threats to our safety posed by North Korea. We’re grappling with how to support the victims of hurricanes and flooding, mass shootings, and the stories from around the world of horror and genocide.

What can you do when horrible things happen?

Whether it’s a natural or man-made disaster, we can’t help but be affected by the tragedies that seem to be happening almost weekly. As if the news itself wasn’t bad enough, there are also the grossly insensitive and incompetent responses to these incidences that make getting through them that much more challenging.

We originally had a different post planned for this week, but we wanted to switch gears and instead create something to support you as you consider the question, “What can I do?”

What to do in the face of overwhelming tragedy and loss:

 

1. Don’t overload your brain with endless news and images of the events.
  • It’s traumatizing to re-watch footage of human despair and destruction.
  • We encourage you to STOP re-watching traumatic footage – your viewing it multiple times won’t change the outcome.

2. Notice how you’re reacting and hold yourself gently.

  • You may feel anxious, unsafe, irritable, angry, vigilant, helpless, sad, have headaches, fatigue, problems sleeping, it may be hard to concentrate, etc.
  • Many people find that they’re flooded by memories of their own life traumas in the face of others’ trauma.
  • It’s also not unusual to have no reaction at all – especially in the face of so many overwhelming events.
  • Honor what you’re feeling and be patient with yourself.

3. Get support, which is different than venting.

  • Reach out to people who can support you in your experience of these tragedies.
  • Limit conversations that leave you feeling worse. Be careful that you aren’t spending time with family and friends simply rehashing how horrible things are in the world.
  • Reach out to a coach, therapist, or clergy member who can help you explore how the current tragedies interact with your fears and wounds so that together you can create a plan that helps you move forward.

4. Take action.

  • Write a letter to your congressperson, donate blood, volunteer, or send money (even five dollars would help) to an organization that you believe in.
  • Don’t get paralyzed by the amount of need in the world.
    • Identify the 1 – 2 things that speak to you the loudest and support those efforts.
    • One of the wonderful things about our differences is that if we each pay attention to the 1 – 2 things that speak to us the most, things that matter will be covered. Our differences let us respond with passion to different issues and tragedies.
  • Taking action is important to help you have a sense of being able to make a difference rather than collapsing into helplessness.

5. Join or create a community that shares your values.

  • This may be as simple as beginning to have conversations with your neighbors and friends about ways to make a difference.
  • Consider organizing an informal group (e.g., through Meet Up). Such activities can provide a forum for support.
  • For many people, they find community in a spiritual or religious organization.
  • Increasingly, there are groups forming around the concerns and challenges of our time, and they may help you feel less alone.

These are difficult times and you need to take care of yourself as you integrate the sorrow and loss. You cannot fix the world, but you can make a difference in someone’s day, you can seek wisdom from others, and you can contribute to organizations that do things that matter to you.

We know it can be paralyzing to wade through the number of charity organizations out there. To help, we’ve included a couple of recent articles by Consumer Reports and Business Insider that include tips as well as lists of their top rated charities.

We’re here if you need us.

- Your coaches and allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

Are you feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed?

Get in touch with us today, we’re here to help.

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  • Linda Carpenter, Stephanie Smith

    Carpenter Smith Consulting

    Linda Carpenter and Stephanie Smith started Carpenter Smith Consulting in Portland to support individuals and teams who dream about having the power, impact and influence to create success and meaning in ... Read full profile
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