"They're trying to kill us!
Having a good life in spite of it
Our sense of security has been lost.
The "age of innocence" is gone forever.
We are vulnerable and scared....and
waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Much has already been written about
coping with America's new war.
The best information includes a)
returning to your usual routine,
b) talking about your feelings to
trusted people c) exercising
appropriate caution d)
giving help wherever we can.
There are three additional strategies we
can utilize: Living Our Values,
Grounding Ourselves and Discharging Our
1. Living Our Values
The Chinese have two symbols for the
word "crisis". One is danger and
the other is opportunity.
Having to compromise some of our civil
liberties for security purposes, a
down-turning economy, fear of sickness
or loss of life has compelled us to
re-evaluate who we as individuals,
who we are as a nation and how we
can live our lives with a sense of
The down times in our lives can be
likened to valleys. There is much
fertile ground in the valleys of our
lives, just as natural valleys are
reposit with nutritious rainwater.
This is a fertile time to question our
life choices, what we value and how we
actually spend our time.
Many Americans have reported a newfound
appreciation of and desire to be closer
to their families. Literally
overnight just simply being together
is enough...and we've re-learned to
take pleasure in the simple things....as
children so readily do. Now is a
good time to sit down and consider what
you really want in life and to dedicate
your time specifically to those
goals. This time of crisis is not
the best time to actually make major
life changes but to engage in a process
of values clarification. It's also
a time to keep our side of the street
"clean" and to recognize that when
someone bullies us, they are often
operating out of great despair and
dissatisfaction. One reason the
have nots of the world want to
destroy us is because we have so much.
While each of us has worked hard for
what we have, we can be mindful of the
American consumeristic culture and to
take a closer look at time and
relationship over having things.
Less can definitely be more.
As a nation we can also enter into a
dialogue with underdeveloped countries
and learn what they truly want in order
to explore how we can all live together
fairly and peacefully. A final
item to re-evaluate is the role of worry
in our psyches...and to be mindful that
worry doesn't change anything other than
causing us more anxiety. So doing
what we can and letting go
of the rest is where our power lies.
2. Grounding Ourselves
This is a time when projections of the
future run rampant. "Someone is
out to get us" is not "paranoid"...but a
legitimate fear. The question is
how we can separate an understandable
apprehension from panic and a lost
One thing we can do is to stay grounded
in our own bodies: i.e. to truly be in
our own skin and be mindful of
the difference between present moments
and future projections. Short of
looking carefully at our mail and
strangers in crowds, we need to
concentrate on the daily decisions of
living. What time do I get up?
What do I wear? What will I eat?
Who will I be spending time with?
What will I be doing? How can I
get my necessary rest? And to take
extra care to concentrate in being
present in the here and now...for that
is all we have. We have this
moment and no other. We can choose
to revel in it and enjoy it as the gift
of life it is. My favorite
affirmation along these lines is
"wonderful is now:. Whenever I
find myself distracted by theses
horrendous events, I repeat to myself
"wonderful is now" and I re-establish my
living in the moment at hand.
3. Discharging Our Emotions
When emotions run strong, there is a
need to express them in some form.
While feelings may be based upon
inappropriate thinking they are still
very real in the body and are
experienced as electrical charges.
The key is to discharge or
release these feelings else they get
submerged and lost. In an
atmosphere where it is not customary and
even frowned upon to talk about
feelings...especially unpleasant ones,
this is a necessary thing to do for the
full recovery of our normal lives
(though normal is being
Much has been written by Elizabeth
Kubler Rosse about the six stages of
grieving major losses. They are
shock, denial, bargaining, anger,
depression & acceptance.
One stage especially problematic for
women is anger. Its expression is
often tabooed. Yet it's a necessary
stage to pass through. We cannot
wish away our feelings. They exist
and need to be acknowledged and
expressed in some way. When we
find ourselves overwhelmed and
distracted from what is going on in the
moment, we can use a particular strategy
formulated by John Lee called "the
Detour Method". The Detour Method
simply means to take a detour away from
the current situation, to step aside
from that feeling for a while and not
act out in the present moment (which may
be inappropriate). The method involves
finding a safe and trustworthy place to
vent out our feelings and ignore the
usual rules of punctuation, penmanship,
spelling, grammar, etc. and then destroy
what we've written for the sake of our
own personal confidentiality. If
we are alone, we can choose to "physicaliz"
our feelings through healthy outlets
such as jumping up and down, yelling,
beating up pillows, twisting towels and
Each of these three strategies are quick
& easy and cost no money. Yet they
are profoundly empowering and offer us a
vehicle to stay grounded and centered in
an uncertain world.
Dr. Duffy Spencer, social
psychologist, therapist, author,
specializes in personal empowerment and
relationship-building...at home and at
work. A national speaker,
corporate trainer and radio talk show
host, Dr. Spencer has a private coaching
& counseling practice in Westbury and is
the founder of WINGS weekly groups and
seasonal retreats. She can be
firstname.lastname@example.org or (516) 334-8985