Why Moving Along the Emotional Scale Can Help After a Major Shock
Did you know that there is an emotional scale that all humans experience?
Experiencing the same scale is universal, but how we each move along that scale is very personal.
I was in NYC for 9/11/01 and I’ve heard so many people report the exact same nervous system reactions the weeks following the 11/9/16 presidential election results that I had back in ‘01, having been an actual victim of a major terrorist attack.
I mean crying oneself to sleep, then waking up to realize it wasn’t all a dream and in fact did really happen, then crying oneself back to sleep… over, and over, and over again. Walking around in an almost alternate reality in the days that follow. Having to live in a world you no longer recognize. Such immediate and profound disillusionment that the mind truly has lost its bearings and doesn’t know how to fit itself into life anymore.
This is what I experienced living in NYC on 9/11 and in the following months. And I’ve heard almost these exact words being spoken by people who were never there, and were never told any of this, who are simply describing what they are experiencing now.
This time I’m not as far down the emotional scale as I was that time, and honestly a very hard year has prepared me with a lot more resiliency than I had back in ’01, but I totally get people who are gripped by fear right now. When you’re under attack, fear is a rational response.
All I can really offer is hope that your movement along the emotional scale will be a speedy one. That the healing will come and come soon.
From fear we go to depression
From depression we go to anger
From anger to resentment
From resentment to revenge (hopefully make that step light and brief if you can’t skip it all together)
From revenge to hope
From hope to belief
From belief to connection
From connection to embodied knowing
Personally, I’ve been flipping back and forth between anger, revenge, and hope with occasional dips into connection and knowing, but there is no right way to deal with visceral reminders of our mortal vulnerability and a world that is sometimes cruel, violent and unjust.
Be gentle with yourself during this period. Don’t make yourself wrong for feeling whatever you feel, but also don’t decide to set up house in any one feeling. Allow yourself to keep moving up and down along that scale as much as your nervous system and psychological system need to in order to establish a new sense of meaning within a “new normal.”
There is an indomitable radiance and joy within you, and it will naturally re-emerge no matter the external conditions it faces, if you just allow the healing process to unfold.
And if you want deeper psychological insight into HOW you might move along the emotional scale, this New Yorker article on developing resiliency is a good place to start.
Indigo Ocean Dutton, MA is a community leader at Conscious Professionals of Color and business consultant with Awaken Business Consulting. She spends her time helping diverse communities develop resiliency, whether tech professionals, high school students, incarcerated teens, business owners or corporate teams.