Ask Golden Willow

Finding comfort in troubled times requires calming rituals


Dear Ted: I continuously hear and experience sad stories that break my heart. The last few months have seemed full of traumatic events with hurricanes, violence, fires, earthquakes and tornadoes. As if that is not enough, there’s also the human that perpetrated the Las Vegas tragedy, threats that cause people to be nervous about war, Facebook and Twitter malice, violence, other atrocities that make no sense and those people being harmful to the earth, animals and other people. Personally, many of my friends have died, been in car crashes and just hurt. I look around and it seems that so many people are hurting that I can get panicked about stepping into the world. I believe most people are probably feeling this way right now and I was wondering what ideas you have that may help me/us walk in a world that feels vulnerable and dangerous. What thoughts do you have? Thanks, Betty

Dear Betty, As I read your note, my heart felt heavy, as you are completely accurate that the world does seem incredibly difficult with so many disasters in all forms seeming to mount up at the same time. I wonder if there are more than usual or if we hear about more due to social media and mass media. Either way, it is the time we live in, where we hear and experience many disastrous situations and threats daily. This can make you want to retract from everyday living, as it can feel too scary to go out.

There are some tactics that may help work through anxiety and depression from the inundation of sad and frightening news. Filtering what news you take in and how often you watch the same story can help. With the Las Vegas shootings, the news continues to show the traumatic event repeatedly, which makes our brain believe it is continuously happening and retraumatizing your entire system. The demand to know why it happened is necessary on one level, in order to try to make our world safer. On the other hand, there may not be a reason why, and it may be that someone’s sanity became impaired and the normal internal compass of right and wrong malfunctioned.

This can cause high levels of anxiety, as this would mean that it can happen again. When your mind becomes “noisy” and you have racing thoughts of combined losses and high levels of fear of the future, the best thing is to have certain internal and external resources to help your mind come back to a place of what is needed next to help stabilize your life. Many people have certain rituals of internal talk, such as: “This too shall pass,” “One day/breath at a time” or sayings that help bring them back to center.

Another resource is what you build externally to help calm your emotional system. This may be support groups or working with a professional who helps support you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It could also mean having some sort of ritual or special place that helps calm you, even taking time to for a relaxing bath. Whatever rituals that help you become present and allow you to calm yourself down will help you with the turbulent times most people are feelings these days. Practicing those rituals consistently will help you when it feels the load is enormous.  I wish you well.

Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Wiard, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at (575) 776-2024 or

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