How are we supposed to act and feel?
In the wake of yet another terror attack the feelings across the UK are tangible. Three serious attacks in a matter of months have provoked many to feel fearful, sad, angry and in some cases, hate. Regardless of the motivations behind the events, is there a right or wrong way to feel when our home towns are subjected to terrorism?
Is it OK to feel this way?
Feeling frightened, tearful, paranoid, angry, numb, like something has changed or been lost from beloved city areas, felling like you are grieving.
The fact is there is no right or wrong way to feel during these times. Feeling any of these complex emotions is normal. We might not be in any way connected to the events, but we as parents, partners, husbands and wives can sympathise, imagine and even ruminate on how those who have lost loved ones or been injured may be feeling.
How should we feel?
- Is it OK to cry even if I don’t know anyone who was affected?
- Is it OK to feel angry and confused?
- Is it OK to feel somewhat paranoid or more protective of my loved ones?
- Is it OK to feel frightened when attending those areas in London and Manchester that were targeted?
The answer to all the above in the short term is yes. These are normal human emotions and it is natural to be feeling this way. The important thing is to begin to look to the long term, if these feelings persist or begin to affect your day-to-day activities it might be helpful to speak to someone about it. This is not a sign of weakness, and we at APL health can offer counselling and other support services if you feel you would benefit from them.
Don’t get caught up in the news or social media
It is natural to watch or listen to news more during these times. We need time to process the events and subsequent emotions to understand exactly what occurred. However, it is important not to become obsessed with news reports and social media updates. After a few days (this can differ depending on the individual), it is a good thing to begin to move on, turn the channel over and start getting back to your usual routine. This is not forgetting or being callous, but part of the process to sustain your mental health by preventing yourself from becoming enveloped in negativity and fear.
Talk about it, but be respectful of others
Some people deal with serious issues best by venting and discussing how the events made them feel personally. This is a good way to process strong feelings. However, be mindful of the language you use, who you talk to and where you discuss your feelings. For example, sometimes people can’t wait to get to work to talk things through with colleagues/friends, some, on the other hand, like to use work as a distraction and want to talk about anything but the attacks. So be tactful and mindful of the feelings of others.
It’s OK to talk about how the events have made you feel personally but it’s a good idea at work and in public areas like cafés to keep strong opinions regarding any political or perceived religious motives behind the attacks to yourself. Not everyone may share your opinion and they could cause offence.
Ultimately in time it is important to let go. This is not forgetting those affected, or excusing the atrocities committed, letting go is for the benefit of you. This allows you to move on and not be caught in perpetual clutches of the emotions surrounding the attacks. Moving on with life is just as important as the other emotions you may feel.
Most importantly, remember everyone will deal with these incidents differently, some may be more reserved than usual, some may talk or even joke more, some may pray and draw closer to their religious communities. No matter how our friends and colleagues cope, as educators and professionals how we can cope together is by being respectful and allowing people time to process things.
From everyone here at APL Health we are sending our love to Manchester, London and anyone that has been affected by the events of the past three months. We are here if you need support.