How we can support our resilient Texans
It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast, leaving tens of thousands of weary Texans struggling to pick up the pieces of their devastated lives.
They’ve waded through flooded streets, been rescued from waterlogged houses, had to evacuate to shelters miles away. Many of them have lost everything.
Gillespie County residents pitched in like many other places to offer assistance.
It’s been said that we Texans are a resilient bunch. But how do you begin the daunting task of bouncing back from something more traumatic than most of us will ever experience? We turned to Andrew Shatté, a national expert and coach on resiliency, for some inspiration on how folks can keep it together to see clear to the other side.
The overwhelming feelings of hopelessness are natural, he says. Still, there are strategies that work to help pull people through.
1. As much as possible, try to stay calm. Traumatic events push inherent emotional hot buttons. If anger is the way you deal with stress, be mindful of that to control it. Emotions are legitimate responses, but try to keep them in check.
2. Focus on what’s in front of you right now. There’s a tendency to look forward several steps, which can be overwhelming. Instead, zero in on: What’s the immediate task at hand?
3. Prioritize and problem-solve. What’s the biggest adversity that has to be navigated? Is it making phone calls to insurance? Getting back in homes to collect belongings? Narrow down what needs to be addressed right away: People are good at finding solutions.
4. Believe in yourself. Many people have never been tested in quite this way. But think about times when you have overcome other big problems. Build your own confidence.
5. Practice optimism. Shatté notes that the human brain is wired for the negative; it helps with survival. But it “robs us of energy.” Victims should know “there’s an entire country behind you. The rest of America stands by you. There’s reason to believe that this will pass.”
6. Have empathy. It helps to understand the plight of other people in your town. Put yourself in first responders’ shoes, for example. Or consider the deluge of claims that insurance providers are processing. Give people the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can.
7. Reach out. If you can, figure out how you can help. Giving back creates connections — and can give people positive feelings of being useful, that there are some things that are in their control.
There’s nothing that could have adequately prepared residents in this state for a storm of this enormity. People are trying to right lives turned upside down overnight. A feeling of powerlessness is understandable — but it is also one we can overcome.
Texans are in for a long, hard road to recovery. But there’s magic in our resiliency. We can do this, together. – Dallas Morning News