Archive for June, 2017

When You Don’t Want to Know What You Know

Posted on June 25, 2017. Filed under: coaching |

It has been said that knowledge is power.

It has also been said that knowing without doing or taking is a waste. Or a crime.

And this post is about the damage that knowing, or perhaps more accurately observing can be to us. Once something has been seen or experienced it cannot be erased. Anyone who has been through trauma will tell you that – and it’s why therapy such as hypnotherapy is sought after (happy to chat about that as I’m a trained clinical hypnotherapist)

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There has been a lot that I’ve been reading and seeing lately about the impact that the internet and social media and gaming are having on our psyche and mental health.

When something has been seen it cannot be unseen.

This is the case for any witness to a horrific event (and there have been a few in the time between when I started planning this article and now that I am writing it). When that witness has a mobile device (Quite frankly who doesn’t?) then the trauma being witnessed is suddenly spread to a much wider audience.

What do you think happens when a traumatic incident is shared?  Here are my thoughts.

  1. The trauma is experienced by a much larger number of people
    This can make it much harder to ensure that support and counseling and care is available to those who need it. If you witness an event on social media you could be in another part of the country or part of the world and there is no guarantee that there will be a link drawn between what your feelings are and the cause. Possibly even by you, let alone by anyone around you as they don’t know what you have seen.
  2. Our brains seek to create patterns and reasons so trauma can sometimes be dulled by the brain.
    Yes the brain is an amazing instrument and what it can and does do in trying to make sense of things is to dull it or explain it as not being real. When we watch something on a screen there is an automatic protective barrier that protects us from reality. This explains why movies can be escapism and why video games can be so addictive.
    It also explains how we become disconnected, unfeeling and uncaring about what is going on in the world around us.
  3. We can become overwhelmed by it all.
    Many people I know have been brought to tears, including me, by things watched on social media.  Videos shared about animal cruelty, or human cruelty, natural disasters and violent attacks on people can all bring tears. That level of distress can be hard to shake off and it then flows over into other areas of life and activities that we engage in. Who else has watched some video on social media and then tried to wash their face to get rid of their red eyes before catching up with a friend?

So what can we do?

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It’s ok to ask

Firstly understand that it is OK to be affected by what you see and experience. Even if it is on a screen – what you see affects you.

Next is to understand that knowing something and not doing anything can cause internal distress. If you have experienced something that was distressing, talk to someone about it. Maybe a friend or even seek some counseling. As humans we have emotion and when we get to the point of not feeling emotion when we witness a trauma, in my view THAT is the time that we have problems.

When you know something that you don’t want to know, seek help to resolve it and address it.

When you know the sorts of content that distresses you, find ways to manage your own social media activity and don’t watch it if it distresses you. Find another way to show your support and commitment to stopping what is happening. For me, animal cruelty is horrific and I can’t watch any footage of animals in pain. What I do is support agencies and volunteer organisations who assist those animals and help to protect them from the situations and people who do them harm.

Be mindful of what you put into your head. What you know can help you and it can also cause pain. Avoid ignoring it – it won’t go away. Find your own way to do something with what you know and make a positive difference.

 

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