The recent tragedy in Connecticut that left 20 children and 6 adults dead has stirred up feelings of intense emotional unrest. Several of my clients have shared worrying about their children going to school; some have shared a desire to stand outside of their children’s classrooms to ensure they are safe. As I have listened and attempted to console my client’s worry and sadness (as well as their feelings of guilt and relief that it wasn’t their children’s school), I recognize how easy it is to get emotionally engulfed in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of strangers, fear of death, fear of the dark, fear of tragedy, fear of poverty, etc., etc.
I wonder, do we really live in an “unsafe world?” And if so, how can I assist both my clients and myself to be mindful of the possibilities of daily tragedies while at the same time learning to see fear as a gift?
In his book, The Gift of Fear (1997), Gavin De Becker teaches the empowering tools of trusting one’s intuition to stay safe (p. 25). He asserts, “Nature’s greatest accomplishment, the human brain, is never more efficient or invested than when its host is at risk (p.25). De Becker adds, “Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. It is knowing without knowing why” (De Becker, 1997, p. 25).
I am not saying that the adults or children in the school in Connecticut could have done something to stay alive on that tragic day. What I am saying is that all too often, we don’t trust our feelings of fear to help keep us safe. De Becker (1997) gives numerous examples in his books of individuals that either had their lives put at risk or were killed because they didn’t trust their intuition to not open a package, not open the door for a stranger, lock their car/house doors, etc.(p. 74).
The reality is that we do live in an unsafe world where bad things happen to good people every day. However, there are things we can do to keep ourselves safe, and not get consumed by fear.
The Messengers of Intuition are ways that, according to De Becker (1997), our body sends messages that something is not right. Examples include: A sense of fear without knowing why, persistent thoughts, a nagging feeling, gut feelings, doubt, hesitation, questioning (p.75).
I have taken the tragedy in Connecticut as a reminder that I don’t have to be engulfed by fear. I can feel empowered to trust my intuition, which at times may include feeling afraid, to keep my senses heightened to potentially dangerous situations that may lie ahead.
I have also encouraged my clients to also stay mindful of their surroundings and their children’s surroundings but to not forget that even if our world feels unsafe, there is safety among us, and ways to ensure we continue to stay safe. My hope is that we can each learn from the daily tragedies that occur and work together to create more community connection and safety. We truly can have peace in our lifetime if we learn to trust ourselves and those around us to accomplish this pretty simple task.
In January and February 2013, I will be offering a 2-part series introducing my workbook titled "Mastering the Trauma Wound™". I will be teaching individuals mindful techniques (including trusting one's inner wisdom and intuition) for mastering past trauma so that they can have a healthy relationship with themselves and others.