My Pain Your Pain

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Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University during Hurricane Katrina, said the following when speaking of the immediate aftermath of the storm, and having to deal with the matters at hand in the midst of chaos & tragedy

“There was so much to do, none of us could afford to feel things that intensely.”

That’s the autopilot speaking. In the midst of great struggle, some of us often shut down some of our processes in order to focus our energy on our most basic survival needs. For Cowen, this meant requiring his administration to delay their emotional responses to the loss of property & separation from families, in order to maintain the tasks necessary to manage the needs of their displaced students all over the country.

On a personal level, some of us do this. When a close relative dies, when you lose a job, when a medical issue arises, or any other loss or chaotic event in life. OR when a combination of events takes place at the same time.

We delay the feelings of grief or anger or sadness until we are sure the basics are attended to appropriately.

Once we know we are safe, our loved ones are safe, our lives are stable (at least our necessities are) then we finally feel the full emotion. Some of us do this, while others don’t. Some others first allow themselves to grieve of react angrily, and get it out of their system before they attend to the necessities.

Which way is better?

Neither.

Both are methods we develop during our lives. Circumstances & the examples we saw in others shape our coping mechanisms. The point of this article is… to remind ALL OF US to respect our own way & the ways that others handle stress. We are not built the same, & we should thank God that we aren’t. Otherwise, our species would have died out long ago.

Peace. Salam. Om.

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