I spend a great deal of time writing about how trauma impacts individuals. Trauma also impacts organizations and causes a significant number of deficits as well. As I have contemplated what we are facing as a nation, some of the same characteristics of traumatization exists for our entire country.
A devastating global pandemic, the level of violence or potential for violence, the racial inequities, the political divisions, the leadership voids, the loss of civility, the number of fear-based conspiracy theories, vaccine questions, loss of jobs, food shortages, controversies over masks and other dissonant information pouring over the news and internet have all contributed to a great deal of dysregulation and inability to cope.
Beyond all of that, the systems that we typically can depend on have been stretched beyond capacity. Our healthcare professionals and caregivers are overwhelmed. Our schools are stretched beyond recognition. Our mental health facilities are inundated. Our drug and alcohol treatment programs are treating an extraordinary number of clients. Our family structures have been compromised and we are grieving the number of deaths that are unprecedented.
It is no wonder we are experiencing so much anxiety, depression, fear and overwhelming grief. We have found our nation in a traumatized state that has been permeating our everyday experience. We long for the past where life was more predictable, comfortable and less controversial.
It is still a bit early to suggest too many specific solutions and timelines since we are still in the heat of the pandemic and at the beginning of a transition of leadership in our country. However, there are some guiding principles that we can embrace as we attempt to cope with a nation that has been experiencing an intense level of adversity.
One of the most significant ways that healing can occur is through stable and supportive relationships. We need each other, from families to fellow Americans, to be far less antagonistic and more focused at the essential issues that need to be resolved. We should make the efforts to rally behind our families, our children, our caregivers and our leaders to encourage a unified approach to support each other with the essentials of a healthy existence both physically and emotionally.
We also should become aware of our deficits and begin to find strategies to help each other cope with regulation strategies and practical growth steps in recognizing that this will take some time to recover. We desperately need a philosophy and commitment of restoration to what we have lost. We need to practice empathy, compassion and allow for processes of recovery. There will be many aspects of this process that require patience, perseverance and hope. However, what is most important is that we establish relationships that build us, renew us and can envision a future of recovery and effective change.
This may feel a bit idealistic, but we can make subtle progress if we start with the relationships of those closest to us and then move to others in our workplace, our community and our society. Becoming aware of the impact of the adversity can begin a movement of compassion that I believe will be resonant with those we encounter. This could provide the beginnings of change to a better world that can make progress on the essential elements of health and hope for us all. In so doing I think 2021 can be one of the most amazing years of restoration that we have ever seen. I hope we can embrace a new world of hope in 2021, even for our traumatized nation!