After the Las Vegas shooting or massacre, most of us were, yet again, placed in a state of shock. Our nervous systems really cannot live in this much fight/flight. Today, as I was driving down the freeway, every exit was filled with firemen and policemen, lights shining, our emergency responders standing outside their vehicles. It was daunting, and I began to look for the unseen chaos. I kept driving and looking, and interestingly enough, not panicking.
When I reached my destination, I asked, matter-of-factly, “So what’s going on?” Three people turned to me and said, “They are bringing home a fireman’s body who was shot and killed in Las Vegas.” The line of servicepeople I had seen at every freeway exit had been showing their respect and humanity for this hero. When I got home, I took the time to browse through the news, something that has had to take enormous emotional capacity to do as of late. I scanned the articles and photos of human beings who had lost their lives protecting their loved one. Perfect strangers that had befriended each other only hours before taking their last breath.
Only now, after a week of personally speaking with traumatized souls from this shooting, am I able to fully articulate my beliefs about this heart-wrenching event. It is apparent to me working with this much trauma, that collectively, we must understand that life is a verb. Always moving, always flowing, verb. The words, “Don’t waste life” were repeating in my head, not in an angry way, in a soft loving, don’t-swim-upstream kind of way.
We truly are in control of our thoughts. I haven’t always agreed with that statement, but during this time that our collective nervous system is on high alert, it’s starting to make sense. It really does make a lot of sense to choose to think that I will be OK and we will all be OK.
Choosing our thoughts is like choosing our behaviors. Kindness is a thought, but choosing kindness is a behavior. Anger is a thought, but choosing to lash out in anger by hurting someone is a behavior. This understanding is vital to our wellbeing. Choosing personal thoughts that are kind take us out of our fight/flight nervous system and into peace.
My hope for us all is that you will begin to consciously choose thoughts that flow in the direction of calm and peace. Our well-being depends on it.
If you are struggling and are looking for a place to talk about this event, psychotherapy could be a good option for you. I am available for in-person and phone sessions.