It’s horrible, unthinkable, and now fear and paranoia has taken a firm grasp on our society. Senseless violence against coworkers who are befriended for a time, a facade if you will, only to be eventually and brutally gunned down in the name of radical Islam (ISIS)? “San Bernardino Strong,” not one citizen of this wonderful community wanted to be put on the global map this way. However, they will be forever remembered for this tragedy, and I believe this will only serve to embolden more terrorists like these two radicals to commit more violent killings.
Gun sales were already at record levels with the recent mass killings in France. Now, we have been hit on our turf, it is real! Handguns and rifle sales are surging with gun ranges reporting all time highs in activity. We want protection, to be ready and safe. Meanwhile the President argues that disarming the citizenry is the best way to proceed. Interestingly, a recent Pew research study revealed that 57% of Americans believe that owning a gun helps protect people from crime. That it is up 48% from last year!
Our country is changing as is our mindset. The psychological impact that kicks in is that of “self-preservation.” On one level, this is our capacity or desire to anticipate dangerous situations and to respond to the cues that anxiety provokes in each of us. Also, this approach to self-care means that we become more self assertive in protecting ourselves and those whom we care about. This may well be one of the primary motivational reason people are buying their very first guns.
Where do we go from here? the Muslim community leadership admits that they are conflicted about having to come out and apologize for every incident that takes place with one of their own. Their people are afraid to come out in public because of the perceived and very real scrutiny. I do recognize their feelings and this is a polarizing point of growing contentiousness. There is increasing talk of possible internment camps to monitor all of the muslims, like there were with the Japanese Americans during World War II here in the United States. I’m a student of World War II and have read and known survivors who have personally sat me down and explained the horrors and atrocities of the holocaust. These discussions bring personal feelings of disgust and provoke deep swells of troubling uncertainty. The muslim community must police themselves, if not, this will quickly become something none of us wants or can stomach… EVERY LIFE MATTERS!!!
Interesting title, isn’t it? Did you realize that 4 in 10 people (40%), in our population will experience some sort of loneliness at different times in our lives? It hurts, it feels empty and cold. However there is an important distinction between feeling lonely and being alone. Understand that there are people who feel alone and really are alone. On the other hand, there are those people who actually choose to be alone, but, are not really alone.
Of course, we have all either been left alone, experienced the feelings of being alone, or possibly both simultaneously during some point in our lives, right? I think back to when I had to relocate to a new state and when I had to start different jobs throughout my career. I did not know anyone which really caused a lot of anxiety and those ugly feelings of loneliness took a toll on me. Naturally, these experiences can produce solitude and loneliness. So, if we are not careful, these feelings can have a negative impact on our physical health, as well.
Now, I want to point out that there is both a medical and psychological element attached to this discussion that I will touch upon. We do know that being alone, which we often refer to as solitude, can arouse one’s artistic talents and boost our concentration, yet, there is a frightening effect on your health. Mind, body, and our ageing process are all negatively affected when we socially isolate ourselves.
Scientists have identified that our loneliness is tied to our genetic makeup. More specifically, those who experienced what we call “chronic loneliness,” their genes expressed a distinct pattern that produced inflammation in their immune system. So, what does that really mean? Well, it means that lonely people have a higher probability of dying earlier because their immune system is not strong enough to fight off infectious diseases.
Psychologically, the impact is just as uncomfortable. Loneliness can lead to a mood disorder widely recognized as depression. It can wreck one’s self-esteem. Confidence becomes fleeting as the tentacles of loneliness squeeze any and all feelings that one might yet have regarding being worthy of the attention of others.
If you sit back and really think about it, we as a collective society are are a social bunch. We are wired to be that way since we were kicking to get out of the womb! We really do need to interact with each other to feel connected, be alive, and progress. Just as important, is cultivating an environment around yourself with those who you can mutually enjoy meaningful relationships with are, at least in my opinion, the best medicine. Enjoying a life that you can be content with, active in, and flourishing is in itself the treasure of being connected.
I’ve seen a tremendous number of clients who have come to me seeking understanding and healing either during or after serious life events. Sadly, some of these client’s relationships go painfully the way of divorce. However, most are at that point in their relationship where they realize that help is needed or there won’t be one.
So, what are “Life Events” and have you experienced them?” Well chances are, yes, you have! Here are the biggies: Chronic Illness (like Cancer), Unemployment (job hunting), Childbirth (who wanted the baby more), Living Apart (thinking about our men and women in the military being deployed), Trauma (could be death of loved one, serious accident, sexual assault etc), and Unfaithful partners. You’d be very surprised, but, this last one seems to be the motivating factor in bringing couples in for therapy. All the cards are laid on the table so to speak and everything can now be addressed openly and with honest candor.
These life events are terribly painful, deeply personal, they drain our mental capacities, and tax us physically. The truth is that none of us will be able to leave this life without experiencing most of these “Life Events.” Did you realize that there are also “turning points” with regard to these events, as well. Let me explain. A turning point is not just a temporary change in our pathway, no, it is a permanent shift that only becomes recognizable to us as our life moves forward.
The psychological impact can be profound or subtle depending on our understanding of the turning point. Some of us may well experience a turning point that brings to us a much needed opportunity, or possibly brings one to a close. Others life events may create an environmental transformation that is more permanent. Still, one may feel that their life event has caused their turning point to be so deeply personal that it has provoked a complete restructuring of their self-worth, belief system, and expectations for themselves and the world around them. However, let’s remember that for in many of us these life events cause a turning point in many individual’s lives, yet, for some it may be less severe and therefore the transition doe not transform them.
Life events can bring upon us stress, anxiety disorders, depression and physical illness. Importantly, all of the life events that we will experience do require some form of change or adaptation by us. It can be unpleasant or pleasant. However, these can be valuable life lessons, as well. Can we ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this, and what can I share with others about my personal experience that might help them?” If you are in pain, thinking that you are suffering from depression, anxiety or another psychiatric disorder, get help. You don’t have to do this alone…Be well.