Not A Political Post
I feel the need to just talk about what is happening in the world because there is so many things happening out there that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. Before you read further, this is NOT a political post so don’t worry. It’s more of a self-reflection on what is happening in the United States that has so many feeling hurt, confused, angry and scared and how we can support others and be better human beings in times of tragedy.
When you turn on the news, it’s impossible to escape the realities of so many terrible acts of violence against our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. Regardless of political views, the loss of so many innocent lives has me thinking about what I can do as an individual to initiate positive change to those around me.
When something traumatic is happening, especially to someone or a group of people outside of our own communities, it can be really difficult to know how to react and also how to reach out to others. The most important thing in my experience is to not remain silent toward those who are hurting. Although it can be difficult to know the right thing to say to show support, one of my friends had a really good piece of advice in that you just have to be careful when it comes to empathy vs. sympathy. You may understand the concept of any of the negative emotions I mentioned above, but you may never be able to fully comprehend the actual emotions someone else is experiencing because of all of their life experiences that have led up to that point... and that’s okay!
Above all else, I stick to the motto of letting others know that I hear them, I see them, and they are important to me. From personal experience, letting someone know those 3 things while they are experiencing a trauma is invaluable, and sends the message that “I may not know what to say, but I’m here”. If you feel like there is nothing you can do, start there. Start talking to those around you who are in pain.
The last thing is listen. It’s one of the hardest things you can do because when someone actually does open up about their experiences, it’s natural to want to compare your own experiences to theirs to let the other person know they aren’t alone… You don’t need to do that. Listening is one of the most powerful things anyone can do because sometimes, folks just need to be heard. It also gives you the opportunity to know how you can help them in moving forward and to become more educated about life experiences different from your own.
I challenge you, don’t stay silent when those who are around you are in pain. It doesn't have be public, or on social media, but you have the ability to change a life for the better… so do it!
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above photo: Marc Reyes