Volume 14
Turning Tragedy into Inspiration: What is the Future you are Creating?

Do you remember when you learned of the news of the shootings and deaths of innocent children in Connecticut? Do you remember your thoughts and emotions?

We found ourselves filled with all kinds of emotions.

Anger, outrage, criticism, judgment, blame, revenge, hopelessness, powerlessness, sadness, despair, shock, and disbelief, are all fight, flight, and freeze thoughts.

This is not surprising. Something has happened that’s painful and very different from what we expect, what we believe, what we have learned, what we hope for, and what we envision for ourselves and others. And when that happens, our brains do their jobs to keep us functioning efficiently and effectively, safe and out of danger. They immediately deliver to us fight, flight, and freeze thoughts and the emotions that go with them.

Are these bad thoughts and emotions? No — they are not bad. They are gifts.

They serve as a moment of truth, a moment of grand awareness of who I truly am and what I truly wish to create in this world.

Anger, outrage, blame, criticism, judgment, and revenge for example, present the awareness that whatever I am experiencing is NOT in alignment with who I am and what I wish to create in this world.

Grief and sadness present the awareness of what IS important to me, what IS of value to me, and what I truly wish to create in my life and in the world.

This is true for us individually and collectively. Every event, particularly the tragic ones, serves as a defining moment, a significant opportunity to create the next version of the highest vision of ourselves as a person, a friend, a parent, a family, a teacher, a leader, an organization, a community, a nation, a world.

In this moment, I can choose to hold and re-act the fight, flight, and freeze thoughts or I can choose to focus on and create the next version of the highest vision of myself.

Re-act or create. It is up to me. It is always up to me.

Rather than label or judge a situation or a person as bad or good, I can decide who I am in relationship to it and choose the vision of what I wish to create from it.

I may think I am a victim. I am not a victim. I am a creator. I may think I can judge, even condemn. I am not a judge. I am a creator.

I create. Every thought I choose to hold is creating–for better or worse. Individually and collectively. And when it comes down to it, the essence of every thought I have is love or fear.

Fight, flight, and freeze thoughts are rooted in fear. Thoughts of vision, purpose, being of service and making a difference, wonder and possibility, thankfulness, and joy are rooted in love.

Thoughts rooted in love bring us peace and inspire us and it’s when we are inspired that we achieve long-lasting, meaningful change and significant results.

I choose to create. I choose love.

So as I see, hear, read, and process the news of the Connecticut shootings, I notice my fight, flight, and freeze thoughts and the emotions as they arise and continue to arise. I feel them. I own them. I take a breath and I wonder what I wish to create and I choose thoughts that move me in a direction that serves, contributes and creates the next version of the highest vision of myself.

I pause. I breathe. I wonder. I choose. I inspire. I create.

These are some questions I can ask myself when I notice I am in fight, flight, and freeze.

  • What can I say or do right now for the greater good?
  • How can I make a difference in this moment?
  • How can I be of highest and best service in this moment?
  • What could I be thankful for in this moment?
  • How can I demonstrate love in this moment?
  • How can I help?

I can ask these questions with respect to:

  • Those involved
  • My children
  • My family
  • All children
  • All families
  • My school
  • Our schools
  • My community
  • My country
  • All of humanity

For example, I may notice that I am profoundly sad for the parents and the loss of their children. When I take my breath and wonder, I may notice that I am inspired to love and appreciate my children or institute “date night” with my children. I may notice I am inspired to help coordinate prayer vigils, or activities to write letters or help the families in some way. I may be inspired to help institute programs to help children be safe or learn how to choose peace over violence. I may be inspired to practice being in the moment and practice experiencing the joy and adventure of each stage of my child’s growth and development. I may want to start practicing being kind to myself and others.

Or perhaps I notice I am critical of the educational system or the parenting of the shooter. When I take my breath and wonder, I may notice I am inspired to be a good parent and practice being a good parent. I may be inspired to teach my children about self-awareness and how to manage their thoughts and emotions. I may be inspired to become involved in a meaningful way with my children’s education or contribute to an organization that is dedicated to the treatment of mental illness.

The opportunities to demonstrate love, be of service, help, make a difference, and affect the greater good are infinite–in any moment. And this is what lights our fire. This is what invokes our light and inspires us. We are all about creating the next version of the highest vision of ourselves.

What we do in times of difficulty can be our greatest success. For the experience we create is a declaration of who we are and who we intend to be.

Confucius said, “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life…”

How are you being in relation to the news of the day? What is the future you are creating?

MANAGING THOUGHT