April 20 will be the 20-year anniversary of the Columbine shooting: the worst high school shooting in U.S. history at that time. Since then, over 100 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S., resulting in hundreds of deaths.
Living through these traumatic events doesn’t always mean living. Often, we are afraid to talk about them because, for many, the scariest part of trauma is talking about it.
However, the truth is, dealing with the aftermath of these tragedies is essential to recovering and growing from the experience. In my case, I was just a freshman when two shooters entered our school and opened fire. The PTSD I lived with after the shooting took it’s toll on me until I took what I could from the experience to promote healing.
Things That Helped Me
Everyone experiences trauma differently and while some may develop PTSD, others may not. Regardless of this, things that helped me process and move beyond my experience included:
Trauma leaves a scar on our brains and creates excessive activity in the parts of our brains that process fear. Finding a therapist who is the right fit for you is the first step towards healing. A qualified therapist knows which questions to ask and can help you work through your confusion, pain, anger, and all of the other emotions that come from experiencing trauma.
There are many types of therapy – from Cognitive behavioral therapy to Psychoanalysis – but, for me, Neuro-Linguistic Tapping was a powerful healing tool. NLT works by reaching deep into your subconscious mind and removing repeating negative thoughts and patterns. This technique helps re-train your brain so you can see the difference between what you believe and what the reality is.
Your environment affects your wellbeing and this includes not just the physical environment, but the company you keep.
In addition, living a life that practices great nutrition and optimizes your personal wellbeing is sure to reinforce your strengths. I personally recommend certain foods and beveragesfor optimal wellbeing. Surrounding yourself with positive, healing people and things will help you to heal.
It Takes Time
Traumatic events such as these mass shootings are not the types of experiences that go away and not talking about them and how they affect us, leaves the pain of the trauma inside to fester. For many who experience these types of things, unhealthy coping mechanisms, suicide, lack of self-esteem, feeling unsafe, isolation, and self-sabotage are just a few of the effects of not healing.
It’s a natural response to be afraid, but it’s possible to grow and learn from these experiences. The first step is to talk about it.
It would be impossible to identify the reasons why tragedies like mass shootings happen but it’s not impossible to assign a purpose to them.
The difference between the reason and the purpose is while you don’t know the reason why something happens, it is up to you to assign whatever purpose you wish to it. So, what purpose would you like to give to your painful experiences?
Let’s get together and discuss ways you can use your experiences to grow and live a balanced, fulfilled life.