Dealing with the Traumatic Aftermath of the Dallas Police Shooting
The shooting that took place in Dallas last week left us shocked and depressed. It made it so emotions were and are still running high. We are at a time where there are many political and social divides.
However, after a tragedy such as this, it’s important to take care of ourselves. Whether you’re someone who is part of the Dallas community, you’re someone who knew someone impacted by the attack, or you’re someone who was in the area at the time of the attack, it’s important to take care of yourself. It’s also difficult to know what to do to help those people in your life. This video can help you identify ways to help those impacted by this traumatic event.
Today I wanted to take some time and talk about the tragedy that occurred in Dallas and just the aftermath as a community that we’re dealing with. And some ways that, as a community, and as individuals that we can move forward. And, hopefully some of the things that I am throwing out there can kind of help to help with some of the emotions that you’re dealing with, and help you to know what kind of support you might seek out in order to help you move forward and heal. Which is something that we all need to do.
Anytime that there is a tragedy like the one that we witnessed, and [that] some of us and many of us were part of last Thursday, there is a lot of emotion that is going to be surrounding something like that. So it’s really important to be very mindful of the emotions that you’re dealing with. In that one of the things that we really need to do is be able to find people who are willing to listen to our emotions. And hear us out about our feelings and allow us to just have those emotions. No matter what, it is also important to know that anger, sadness, hurt, frustration, [and] any of those feelings are understandable in a situation like this. And so, what we need is to find somebody to help us process where those emotions are coming from, and to just hold a little bit of space for us to allow us to experience those emotions in a way that helps us to move forward in any way that we need to.
On the other end of this there’s something else that’s really important, which is that we need to be good listeners for other people. So if we’re talking to someone and they are experiencing sadness or anger, or any other kind of emotion, it’s really important to listen to them and hear them out. It can be tempting to tell a person that they should be having an experience that we see as a type of experience that would help that person here. However, everybody heals differently and it’s really critical that we remember that this situation that happened in Dallas was (and is) charged with so many different issues.
You know, you have all kinds of social issues surrounding political topics that are very controversial, like gun control. We have social issues around race and police brutality. We have concerns around mental health issues and just general public safety. And all of this can really create that you can really make it difficult to talk about and process, “Where Do We Go From Here?” We need to practice really trying to allow people to have their own perspectives, and hear them out on whatever it is they’re sharing about it. In particular, if they were actually downtown when this was happening. And then not just in that situation, [but] for people who also saw it play out and watched that happen. We also need to allow them to have the perspective that they are having about it as well.
And I’m speaking more as a psychotherapist here, and not as much as a sociologist or social psychologist, or not those things. I would leave talking about social issues to the experts, to share their perspectives on some of the things that we’re contending with–culturally and socially, and even politically. I would look to some of those professionals who are more knowledgeable to give advice on that. And I certainly have my opinions about it, but I would look to them to be the experts to share that with you. Whoever is watching this at this moment
Instead, there’s certain things that I know as a psychotherapist, which are… and that we are really… the one thing that we all really do need is validation. We all need to know that we’re heard, we all need to know that we’re being seen. And when we don’t feel that way our frustration rises. And hurts increases. And so these are things that, for those people who are close to us in our lives, who experienced it firsthand, we really need to be able and willing to practice being there for them in a way that you would want them to be there for us. In a way that we need them to be for us now after this tragedy occurred. And so it is really critical to take that time and practice enough vulnerability, and it really is vulnerable to sit there with somebody who has a different perspective. To see something that you don’t see, and [sit with someone] who points out something that when you look at it, you feel like you could actually be part of the problem. When they’re talking about it, it’s easy to go into defending trying to protect that, instead of hearing them. However, it is really important to be able to hear them out, because hearing them out not only allows them to get the story out, it allows them to start to build trust. In that they believe that you are interested and, even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, that you respect them enough to to hear how to hear what it’s like for them. So listening is a critical piece.
On a final note, what I would say is that for those who are actually directly impacted, whether [by] the loss of a family member, the experience of the actual gunshots and gunfire, the running away from of those things, it’s important to take care of yourself. And it can be a real traumatic experience. And it’s an understandable thing if it is an experience that is traumatic, and you identify this as traumatic. So sometimes these things will heal with time. And it’s important to know and to give yourself the time that you need. However, if you do feel like you’re stuck, this is the city that is very privileged to be filled with some very high quality professional trauma therapists. So trying to find somebody who can help you become unstuck, so that you’re able to move through it in a way that can help you live your life in a way that you deserve to live.
That’s something that I would just have in the back of your mind. I know it’s still very raw, and it’s we’re not very far removed from it yet. I would encourage people to just kind of keep that in view and into consideration. Take that into consideration when you think about how you’re going to move forward with this.