What Do You Do When Terror Attacks?

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC 

The terrorist attack in Orlando creates the immediate feeling of being overwhelmed emotionally and confused about what to do next. 
The following are some practical steps to prevent secondary trauma, which is a condition that occurs after a major critical incident. These principles will help you, or the people you love to stabilize.

The first step is to practice self-care. This is listening to your own emotions and dealing with your own level of fear. You need to stabilize in order to help the people you care about. Pay attention to your own emotions of fear, anxiety, panic, or trauma so you can take immediate action to manage the flood of emotions. 
One of the simplest ways to do this, involves a legal pad and a pen. Writing down what you're feeling and what you're experiencing will help you get through the process faster. (For very young children this can be done through art or drawing, or maybe drawing a picture for a firefighter or first responder. Anything your child can do to process the emotions will help them stabilize faster.)

Once you do this, the second principle is to be able to take care of the people around you. While it is normal to think about caring for your children first, think of what they teach on the airlines. Put on your own mask and then you are able to help the people around you. 
It is important to pay attention to the emotional reaction of the people you care about especially if they are acting unusually quiet, or unusually scared. A terrorist attack of this magnitude creates overwhelming emotions. Learning to pay attention to those emotions, especially feelings of panic, deep sadness, or debilitating fear, will help you to comfort the people important to you.
Stabilizing your emotions, and then reaching out with compassion to the people you care about prepares you to help other people which is the third level of care. Remember these three principles and teach them to others. Self-care, friend and family care, and then reaching out to others.
Think of a massive Boulder being shot into a pond. There would be an incredible ripple effect. These ripples of trauma show us how to reach out to other people. Talk to the people in the impact zone or "ground zero" of the trauma first, and then you can reach out to people layer by layer. This is terrible crisis, it's the worst it's ever been in our country's history but together we can get through this. 

Last night we saw the worst of humanity in Orlando. In the next few days we will see the best in humanity from the epicenter of Orlando, rippling forward into the entire country. This is the greatest opportunity to show the love and compassion of our Christ in my hometown. 

Will you join me and spreading The message of #PrayForOrlando ?

Remember to reach out to your friends who may live alone. This is the most important time to call them, invite them to dinner, or go to coffee. No one should be alone in a crisis. We need each other, and we all need to talk. Based on this principle-
"If you can talk through it, you can get through it."
Now is the time to reach out to people you care about, even people at work or neighbors you may not know very well. Don't miss a chance to connect to the community of people you care about with words of hope, healing, peace. 
The Bible teaches God is a very present help in time of trouble. This is the time to move through the normal feelings of fear to show the world what our faith is about. Don't go alone, reach out to others, especially to those who may be forgotten by others. (See Psalm 91 as a reference to stabilize in crisis)


@DwightBain is an author and leader in managing critical incidents and crisis. Access more positive articles and blogs to cope in crisis at www.LifeWorksGroup.org 

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