The tragedy in Aurora Colorado was terrible. The people who survived that awful night in the theater will carry the trauma for many years. They, as well as the families, responders and community will all need help to release the trauma for their well-being.
James E Holmes is a fellow human being with the same potential as you and I. Somewhere along the way he went off course, down a very dark road. The following are six ways we can end up in a very dark place:
1. Anger is a powerful emotion. People who stuff anger can build up huge amounts of stored negative energy. If anger keeps building it will need expression. Anger needs to be released in healthy ways.
2. The mind can go off in extreme directions. Thoughts can grow more and more powerful inside. Thoughts can also rationalize terrible ideas. The mind needs balance and harmony.
3. The ego is run by fear. It wants to be right. When the ego wants to assert more power and control it can come up with very unhealthy ideas to do so. The ego also often wants attention and can go in search of its “fame” in very destructive ways. The ego needs to be acknowledged and kept in a more neutral place in our daily lives.
4. Mental health issues can also arise where something goes wrong with the functioning of the brain. Most mental illness however, does not cause violence in this way – well-planned mayhem. Mental health issues need professional help.
5. Extremists points of view or beliefs can cause hate, anger, righteousness or other emotionally charged inner states to grow and dominate a person. Driven to condemn others is an example of ideology at work. Extremists viewpoints are the ego-mind in charge, with judging, rationalizing and obsessing as the major way they function. Any ideas that a person is right and all others are wrong are danger signs. A mind running on extreme viewpoints needs to find a way to search for a deeper truth and find inner peace.
6. The disconnection from the heart can be very costly. Too often people close their hearts because of life experiences. A closed heart distances us from our fellow human beings. If we loose compassion for each other, we become less human. Blocked hearts need to find their way back to being open.
These six ways of possible unhealthy expression must be attended to as part of the journey of life.
To be healthy mentally and emotional takes work. Awareness is a key component of our well-being.
The following is a list of the kind of mindful awareness we need to have functioning within us to be a healthy human being:
- Be mindful of the thoughts that run our mind.
- Find healthy ways to acknowledge and release our feelings.
- Be aware of strongly negative inner states like hate and the need to dominate and control, and seek help when needed.
- Be careful of ideas and beliefs that we are driven to make others believe.
- Watch for the ego mind using fear to run a negative agenda in us.
- Stay away from negative influences that charge up states of mind that we know are not healthy for us.
- Keep your heart open and be compassionate to all. Be weary of any heartlessness.
- Be cautious if we find ourselves judging groups of people and categorizing them with distain. We are heading down a negative path.
- Notice if we find our mind is filling with disturbing thoughts. Immediately go seek the help of mental health professionals.
- Keep your distance from anyone who spreads anger and hate.
- Be watchful of the mind rationalizing what we know isn’t right.
- Pay attention to the values that matter to us and live by them.
- Avoid being run by fear because it can cause us to think and act in negative ways.
- Notice our actions because they tell us much about our thoughts. If we are pushing people away or spending time getting angrier, we need to shift our direction.
- Rationalizing getting guns is often a sign that fear is running your life.
There is much to think about and be aware of as we go through our lives. If we keep upbeat and our hearts and minds open, we will continue to grow. Life will be an amazing journey.
If we start heading down a slippery slope of anger, fear, hate, or condemning others, we need to step away. Then it may be time to talk to others about how we are feeling. We can ask for help. We can also focus on those we love and take back control of our thoughts.
If we see those we love start heading down a negative path we can ask them to talk, listen with compassion and offer to help where they are stuck. They may need to get professional help. Don’t hesitate to take action and be an advocate for them to get the help they need. Bold action may be called for.
It is good to remember that we are all part of an Earth-wide human family. If we keep an open heart, look out for each other, ask about others when concerned and be a caring friend, then we can help people who go off course. Extreme ideology can be challenging but our shared humanity and compassion can invite people to a more balanced way of being in the world.