I’m not sure what Dan Pink was really trying to say in this post, but the last sentence is terrific: Listening to the customer can be helpful; listening to your own voice can be revolutionary.
Earlier this morning, temporarily forgetting it is June in the northern hemisphere a long way from the equator, I thought 3.30 was morning and inadvertently spent an hour listening to stories of religious people who had been kidnapped in Colombia and held for long and (more importantly in my opinion) indeterminate periods. It was only when I wondered why BBC thought this was breakfast viewing that I realized my error. That said, it was an interesting program.
Despite the Stockholm syndrome, the advantage of being kidnapped is that we know who the enemy is. Often in real life, horror emanates from people we want to like. Not knowing how long a horror will go on for is really horrible. It’s difficult to budget one’s energy. We cannot use the line I read about long term jail sentences: Do your time; don’t let your time do you.
It’s in that phrase that we see the value of religion in these never ending horror situations. When we say “don’t let your time do you”, we try to go on as usual. We try not to change ourselves.
I never comprehend religious arguments. They seem circular to me. But what I gathered from the people speaking to BBC was a determination not to broken by the experience. We can be changed by it, not broken.
Religious people have within their narrative the power to ‘offer’ the horrific situation to God. Give it back. Secular people have to reason logically. This situation is bad but I am not.
Whatever narrative we use, the goal is to be happy within the situation. I wonder if the programme is available on iplayer because it is difficult to repeat what the former hostages conveyed. Maybe being logical is not helpful.
Remember rather: Listening to the customer can be helpful; listening to your own voice can be revolutionary. What is your story? What in this story is a story you can repeat, initially to yourself?
The Moral Maze on BBC4 last night ‘discussed’ ostensibly the outrageous behavior of BBC and other media outlets during the Cumbria shootings. Beginning with bad manners and utter lack of empathy, they trampled over Cumbria turning other people’s tragedies into titillating gossip for people with nothing else to watch on TV.
Immediately following trauma, we need practical help
The program veered off this point into the personal prejudices of the panelists as is the Moral Maze’s wont, but some of the brave professors who gave of their time to be ‘witnesses’ made an important point. In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, we don’t need professional help. Immediately, we need practical help: a blanket, a cup of tea, a working mobile phone to contact loved ones.
Professionals concentrating on emotions do more harm than good. I know from my own lit reviews that professionals are unlikely to do better than chance (one third get better, one third get worse and one third stay the same).
Why counselors might make trauma worse
Professionals probably do harm for three reasons:
- They distract us from the immediate needs of the situation: a blanket, a cup of tea and get in touch with loved ones
- We rehearse the bad parts making it more likely we will remember the bad parts
- In the immediate shock, we have no story. Our story got demolished along with the actual event and we need time to think through a coherent and positive narrative.
The last sounds as if we are making things up. We are not. We are making sense of what happened. And unless we have prior experience (and a story made up in advance), it takes time to reorganize our brain just as it does when we are finding our way over any unfamiliar terrain. We are not ready to talk because we can’t organize our thoughts coherently. Not yet.
But to leave our story as the story written by the perpetrator, or a story written by chance and bad luck, that is madness. To live our story as so much debris tossed around on the waves of chance and misfortune, that is madness.
Once we have had a chance to catch our breath, we remember that Listening to the customer can be helpful; listening to your own voice can be revolutionary. Being buffeted by events means we are alive. Taking notice of events means we are sane. Listening to our own voice is revolutionary.