Equipping ourselves to deal with the pain of others.

There is a seemingly endless list of commentary on current events and I cannot claim to be clued up on the nuances of what is happening. I cannot claim to relate to the experiences that are being broadcast across our screens either. I do, however, want to comment on something with which I am familiar. It is something that is becoming quite obvious to me and not yet talked about enough. It is the experience of being traumatised or triggered on a daily basis.

I want to make it clear that I am only commenting on the psychological and emotional effect as a result of what we are witnessing regardless of background or race. I am concerned that a vast majority of people do not have the resources to deal with it. What is worse is that because of lock-down measures we are not equipped socially to deal with it. We are not allowed to reach out to family or friends for comfort and support, to get that much needed hug or physical contact. We are being triggered, traumatised, and being refused that vital care and comfort from those most important to us.

Of course, this does not compare with the trauma that has been experienced by the black community for generations – and it will be them who experience the worse second-hand trauma. What makes it worse is the sense of helplessness and uncertainty, of not knowing if it will end. And it is that combination of things that concerns me – the trauma, a sense of powerlessness, the lack of support, an unending sense of uncertainty.

The question that I am concerning myself with is how do we arm ourselves with the right skills and self-care so that we can witness what is happening without burning out or, perhaps worse, becoming desensitised to violence and death?

I am not commenting on the event itself, nor the wider experiences of racism and violence. There is a lot to be said about those topics already and I am far from an expert. I am not commenting on the media nor the political handling of the situations – I am no expert. I am focusing on the emotional responses we are all having to the very real, very distressing experiences happening to other human beings. I am worried that we are not equipped to deal with it.

We need each other now more than ever yet we have – until recently – been unable to seek comfort in the most primal way. How, then, do we ensure we can keep going? We need to ensure that we remain engaged in the conversations and the experiences of others without burning out. We need to remain grounded whilst actively seeking out others to support and challenge. We need to keep calm whilst allowing the passion and motivation to remain. We need to witness the pain of others – and have empathy for others – and ensure we care for ourselves. This is a phenomenal shift in the collective consciousness and the importance of engaging in conversations and changes in behaviour cannot be overstated.

Of course I am advocating for counselling being that space. I am equipping myself to have an increasingly wider range of skills to deal with topics that I have previously been unfamiliar with. I am learning, and I am determined to support those that are burning out, fearful or unsure how to deal with things. We are at risk of becoming overwhelmed with information.

I cannot relate to any abuses or violations as a direct or indirect result of race or skin colour, but I am learning how to help others through those exact experiences. I am equipping myself to help those who are witnessing trauma on the news, on social media, or in conversations with friends and family. I am determined to equip myself so that I can help others to equip themselves to deal with first-hand and second-hand trauma. Whatever your experience, it is necessary to seek care and comfort if you – if we all – are to keep going. As I have heard many times already – this is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to ensure we have the resources to hold onto that passion, to keep engaging in conversations, and to witness the suffering in others without burning out, becoming uninterested, or feeling numb.

Photo by Irina Anastasiu from Pexels

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