Archive for the ‘dealing with tragedy’ Category

When is it OK to Laugh?

June 6, 2019

Sometimes, when a crisis occurs; even if it doesn’t touch us personally, we lose our desire and even our ability to laugh. With the horror of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and unkindness rolling out before our eyes via broadcasts and social media outlets, it seems unthinkable and disrespectful to find anything funny. That’s the way we sometimes feel but in reality, laughter is a valuable survival tool.

Obviously, our psychological recovery from a disaster depends on how close we are to it …physically and emotionally and of course, time is also a factor. After every disastrous event, we see heroes appear on the scene, in the form of first responders and also regular people coming to the aid of victims; working together to help put the world back together again. We feel helpless and shaken as we watch the events unfold and eventually, as there begins to be some distance from the horror, the stress lessens and we begin to laugh again. Then we can begin to heal.

Laughter is a release of emotions that we need to express but aren’t sure how to do it. We sometimes feel guilty for laughing in times of trouble, but it’s important to realize that we aren’t laughing at the event; we are detaching from the fear and anger we have been feeling. Laughter is an emotional catharsis and is necessary for keeping us from falling into the pit of negativity; it is our link to sanity.

We should never feel guilty for finding a thread of relief through laughter, as a matter of fact, we should embrace it. People who have been in the most terrifying and unimaginable situations will often share stories of how they tried to find a little humor in their dismal experiences in order to keep themselves from breaking down completely.

Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor wrote, “What helps people survive awful circumstances is their ability to detach and get beyond themselves. This is seen in heroism and humor.”

During the Vietnam War, Gerald Coffee was shot down and imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton” for over seven years. He explained that “Laughter sets the spirit free to move through even the most tragic circumstances. It helps us shake our heads clear, get our feet back under us and restore our sense of balance and purpose. Humor is integral to our peace of mind and ability to go beyond survival.”

Laughter and tears are closely related; they are two sides of the same coin. Some of the most famous comedy teams emerged from the time of the Great Depression and WWII. Why? Because the nation needed some relief; we needed to laugh. Many of the stories portrayed on M*A*S*H were based on stories told by actual surgeons who used humor to escape the horror of their experiences in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War.

Laughter is a gift. In times of stress, it is a pressure valve which allows us to maintain an even keel. It saves lives and it allows us to step back for a moment and perhaps even find a little peace and hope. And speaking of hope, here is a quote from Bob Hope on the subject:

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform the most unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

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Your Amazing Brain & What You Can Do With It

February 16, 2017

Several years ago, I experienced a traumatic shock, and while it isn’t important to elaborate on the details, it’s enough to say that it turned my world upside down. People talk about PTSS as it relates to people who have returned from war but it is very possible for anyone to be a victim of the “after shocks” of a traumatic event.

In light of my experience, I did a lot of research and became fascinated by the workings of our brains and how we can change or alter our thought patterns. I learned about the science of neuroplasticity. The term is derived from the words Neuron and Plastic. Obviously, neuron refers to the neural cells in your brain and plasticity means to mold or modify. So neuroplasticity is the science that explains the potential that your brain has to create new neural pathways; basically changing the way you think. Cool, huh?

The more I learned, the more I realized that I had the capability of reorganizing my thoughts and I really needed to do something to get out of the negative spiral I was in. And I realized that it was going to take some action on my part.

Think of it this way, when you memorize a song, you do so by constantly repeating the lyrics and singing it over and over again until it’s locked in. You have created a neuropath which allows you to remember that song. Suppose you decide to put new words to that song, like a parody. How do you do it? The same way…you sing it over and over and over again until you have created a new neuropath.

If you play an instrument or if you are a dancer, you know the concept of muscle memory. Your brain remembers the steps of a dance or where you put your fingers on your instrument. The science is fascinating and complex, but the concept is simple. As it relates to getting past a fearful mindset, you have the ability to change a negative thought pattern into a more positive one. But just as in singing a song, playing the piano, or dancing, you have to practice. If you are going to change a thought, you have to apply action!

That means that you have to begin to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You can’t just leave an empty spot, or those troll thoughts will jump right back in! When I was teaching, I used to ask my students to answer a riddle. Here it is: Five frogs sat on a log and one decided to jump into the water. How many frogs were left on the log?

The answer is…..FIVE frogs were left on the log because one only DECIDED to jump into the water, but took no action!

I am not a doctor….but I am a DIVA and that stands for Delighting In Victorious Attitude and I think we all deserve to have an attitude of altitude!

 

I would love to work with you! I offer one-on-one and group coaching classes as well as keynotes, seminars, and trainings.

www.lindahenley-smith.com Contact me at laughlady1950@gmail.com

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

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Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com