Updated: Jul 31, 2020
The mass shootings are still with us in Nova Scotia as we have vigils and memorials for those lost, and as the police comb the sites of the shootings and fires to piece together what happened. The acts of the perpetrator have shaken our sense of safety and perhaps even our sense of who we are as individuals and communities. Many of us are questioning how someone could do such horrific and senseless acts of violence. We may feel anger and hate towards the perpetrator. Having these intense feelings during the pandemic, when we may be isolated and out of our normal routine can make these challenging feelings even more challenging.
When we feel threatened, our body kicks into gear to protect us with the fight, flight or freeze response. Feelings of anger are related to the fight response where we act quickly to protect ourselves. Underneath those feelings of anger, there may be other more vulnerable feelings such as fear or sorrow.
Feeling angry is not necessarily a problem… unless we act from our anger in hurtful ways. The violent shootings of the perpetrator are an extreme example of such actions. The other ways anger may be a problem is if we get “stuck".
How do we know if we are stuck in anger?
We may have intense anger persistently over a period of time
We may keep thinking about what happened or about the perpetrator
We may be more irritable with those around us
We may be using alcohol or drugs to numb the difficult feelings
With chronic anger we may have health issues like headaches, digestive problems, and high blood pressure.
Tips for Working with Anger
Accept the anger as a natural and understandable emotion and give it space, as difficult as that may be.
Remember, it’s OK to feel anger. It's not OK to act on your anger in ways you regret later.
Acknowledge that we cannot undo what has happened. Accept that there are things we can’t control.
Anger is a call to action, so find positive ways to mobilize yourself. Citizens from Debert and other affected areas organized the Virtual Vigil which aired April 24. They gave us the gift of a way to grieve and process the horrific loss of life and they gave themselves the gift of doing something positive out of the tragedy.
And if you find you get stuck, or take actions you regret later, you can get counselling and support.
For online mental health services and Nova Scotia resources ttps://www.nshealth.ca/content/online-mental-health-services