by Susan Dunn, M.A., The EQ Coach
"It is better to light a candle than to curse the
War is disturbing. Regardless of which "side"
you're on, people are killing, people are being
killed, and people are suffering. A recent poll in
New York showed 47% for the war, 49% against.
This may be mirrored in your own environment. We
are deeply divided, which means half the people you
encounter won't be agreeing with you, and emotions
are running high. You may also be ambivalent - divided
against yourself. Here are some tips on managing
emotions during this difficult time.
1. Acknowledge that this is beyond your control.
What you may be able to do as an individual is
limited. You can't solve the problems of the
world; no one ever has. It's not even clear who is
"in control," and human error and frailty show
their face constantly. The only thing under your
control is how you think about things, how you
respond, what you do and say.
2. Limit your exposure.
Keep up on the news, and know what's going on, but
sitting in front of the t.v. constantly for a
blow-by-blow description isn't necessary, or
helpful. If it makes you miserable, don't do it.
3. Find something you can do.
Do volunteer work, help someone who's having a
hard time coping or has a loved one serving on the
front, make sure your child feels safe and isn't
exposed to the violence on t.v., or maintain a
happy disposition at work. Light a candle
somewhere, make things better for someone, some
way, some how. This will make you feel less
4. Be grateful.
There are many things to be grateful for in your
own life, and life in general, if you look that
way instead of the other way. Focus on good things
that are going on, and model this for others.
Tulips coming up in your garden, an A on your
child's report card, someone gets a promotion, a
new baby is born ...
5. Find ways to self-soothe.
Draw upon your faith, get a massage, meditate,
exercise, journal. Talk with a good listener,
spend extra time with loved ones and in
re-creational activities, maintain a healthy diet,
stick to nurturing routines.
6. Remember you have a choice in discussions about
You can decline to give an opinion or become
engaged with someone with whom past discussions
have not been helpful. You can express your
opinion, knowing it's your opinion and others have
different opinions. You can use your EQ skills to
focus on the positive, and the similarities rather
than the differences. Everyone with an opinion,
for instance, thinks theirs will make the world
better. End the discussion on a positive note. You
can connect; you can't always convince, and do you
need to? Value being in relationship, not in being
7. Stay away from catastrophizing in your
conversations, and in your mind.
Words like "never" and "always" and "they" and
"those people" are rarely true and usually not
helpful. The truth is, we don't know what the
outcome will be, and people are very different, as
individuals. Challenge stereotyping and negative
thinking by asking the person if they've
personally observed this to be true, or seen it
happen. Counter with examples that challenge the
person to think differently, more optimistically.
8. Seek help if you need it.
There are trained professionals ready to listen
and to help. Counselors and psychologists can help
you deal with your reactions triggered by past
events. Coaches can help you stay focused on
moving ahead with plans and goals and managing
events in an emotionally intelligent way.
9. Protect people who are vulnerable.
Someone already stressed will experience anything
in a more dire way. An elderly person living
alone, someone chronically ill, or someone who's
just suffered a tragedy may already be at their
limit. Emotions are contagious ... think about
what you're 'spreading'. Children shouldn't be
exposed to what's going on, in conversation or on
television. There are sites on the Internet that
give advice on how to handle this with children. (Please see Holisticonline.com
Anxiety Disorders infocenter and Bioterrorism
infocenter for more details.) Study them. Learn how to make your child feel safe and loved. Use
some of the tips on yourself, on your 'inner child'.
10. Start a new personal adventure.
Take a course, start a new hobby, focus on a
personal or professional development issue, lose
weight, get in shape. The way we make the world
better is one person at a time. This is a great
time to forge ahead!