The world is trembling under the wave of terror we have been experiencing for the past decade. It may have started in the Middle East but now it is at our door.
We may have got immune to hearing about daily blasts in Baghdad but now it is in our face in Paris. Victims of suicide bombers in Jerusalem may have been faceless to the world but victims in Paris have been shown on world news over and over making them real in our minds.
Police all over the Western world are on high alert. In Australia, our prime minister keeps reassuring us that we have the best security agency but fear remains.
Why? One reason is that terror is so unpredictable. The latest terrorists are not organised in a way that can be identified. The attacks seem to be random acts carried out by individuals.
Another reason is that terrorists are everywhere, in every city worldwide.
A third reason is the barbarism that is displayed. The seventies seem so mild when there were plane hijacks and maybe a few people shot. Now public places where hundreds of people are killed at once are targets and the bombs leave carnage. Beheadings and torture have become the prime method of intimidation. To top it all, the acts of barbarism are filmed and aired for all to see.
Tips to help you cope
- Stop writing and talking about these factors and events incessantly. When you focus on them, you will feel helpless, trapped, intimidated. Only talk about the terrorists and their vile actions in order to be helpful and practical. For example, if you wish to send food or money to the family of a victim. Otherwise focus on positive events.
- Watch as little news as possible. Watch just enough to get some facts and updates. Watching the same horrible scenes over and over literally create a thick neural circuit in your brain. This means that even when you switch off the TV, your brain does not switch off and the same images and thoughts will continue.
- Read news in print or online rather than watch TV or videos. Pictures are more visual and more distressing than reading a description of a horrific event.
- Make a plan to feel safe. It can be anything.
– For example, Ted Koppel recommends that you store 3 months’ supply of food in your home in case you are ever in lockdown.
– Put emergency contacts in your contact lists.
– Teach your children the emergency number of your city.
– Avoid public places if possible.
- Strengthen your belief in your ability to cope. Think of all the times in your life that you were resilient. Play those memories over and over in your mind.
- Make a contribution to society. Turn this negative into a positive. Collect charity for victims of terror, volunteer where you can. You will feel better when you have meaning in your life.
- If you believe in a Higher Power, now is the time to use it. Pray. Strengthen your beliefs around life, death and suffering. Get support from your local minister if you have one.
- Learn meditation and make it a daily ritual.
- Practice mindfulness during your day so that you can participate fully in the moment. This will help you to enjoy the present and prevent you from worrying about the past tragic events and predicting gloomily into the future. Be in the now. Only think about the future when you need to plan such as planning a trip. Only think about the past to take action to make a difference.
- Use this time as an opportunity to assess your life. If you were to die tomorrow, would you be happy with your choices? If not, maybe make changes in your life so that you can feel you are living to the full.