A crash course in changing the world.
"Good things happen if you do them." Crucial to communicating in a crisis, and preparing for a crisis, I think, are the concepts listed under psychological first aid: safety, calming, connection, efficacy, and hope.
Regardless of climate, custom, creed, or community, survivors of any crisis need to feel safe: removed from the threat.
People need to feel secure, and calm: able to undertake specific actions and attainable goals to protect themselves and concentrate on the future.
Feelings of connection and community need to replace shock, isolation, and acute reactions to psychological trauma. Support and counseling services, media coverage, faith and volunteering efforts are all efforts which re-establish feelings of connectivity, and can provide invaluable intra-community support during crisis and recovery phases as well.
Prior training and/or preparation can promote crisis autonomy and efficacy; neo-lateral (citizen-based) actions and pro-active decision-making, collectively or on one's own, enhance re-connectivity and community healing during crisis and recovery phases.
Resilience and recovery, the concept that hope is both possible and appropriate, re-establishes a concept of balance and the idea that the world will "go on"; that chaos will not reign, that safety, security, connection and efficacy/empowerment can all be established, that appropriate predictability has been re-established.
Supporting these are the "five principle bulwarks" against denial. Recovery is not truly attainable without recognition, the overcoming of denial.
Briefly listed these are:
1) Legitimize Fear: it is acceptible and reasonable to be fearful of unpredictible and destructive outcomes. "Be not Afraid" is not as effective a declaration as "Together we Stand." Acknowledging, facing and overcoming fear together is a powerful approach to overcome destruction, disenfranchisement, denial.
2) Mobilize Activity: Fear is borne more easily if one has concrete tasks to undertake, specific goals to accomplish. One step at a time, one hill at a time, as Mandela said, keep getting up...
3) Categorize decisions: Whenever possible, offering a variety of choices will involve people in taking responsibility for their preferences, actions, recovery. Opportunities to choose or refuse clarify goals and bootstrap action, mitigating denial and legitimizing progress.
4) Recognize love: Peter Sandman says fear is a solution, not a problem; we are much better able to bear fear on behalf of those whom we love than on behalf of ourselves. Loving does not make one less afraid; loving makes fear easier to bear.
5) Utilize anger and hate: listed as the most controversial bulwark against denial. As it is useful, even necessary to legitimize fear, so, too, is it necessary to acknowledge and legitimize "negative" feelings, against a circ**stance, a virus, an enemy, and thus gain the strength to bear fear, recognize and defeat denial, and take "arms" against the crisis, and, by opposing, overcome and end the threat.
Human resilience, community resilience, are invaluable, critical resources. Without the infrastructure and resolution to adapt and overcome, dysfunction, denial, and debilitating fear can rule in a crisis situation. Continuity, connectivity, creativity in the face of crises--these can support healing and recovery, and re-establish balance and the ability to thrive.