Living Life: Country trauma and healing

By Dianne Smith
Reader Columnist

Once again our country is in a state of acute stress. We’ve experienced something so horrific that we struggle to make sense of it and cannot. This traumatic experience reconnects us with past traumatic experiences, and as a society we are very emotionally charged and on guard. This is the time we need to reach out and support one another as we focus on moving forward. We need to move forward in a way that is healing and not polarizing, as we try to make sense of the why. The journey of healing is very individual but is impacted by others. It is not a linear path and there is no right or wrong, only what is helpful.

I believe we all want the same thing, which is a wonderful place to live and raise children. The disagreement is often around what is the best way to get there and what exactly that means. Have we become so stressed as a country that we can’t even discuss what that means without people deciding that their opinion is a fact and that if everyone doesn’t see it as they do then they are wrong. The anger which comes from fear does not promote healing for the community. If there has been any downside to social media it would be the extent it allows others to vent their negativity which begets anger and more negativity.

We as individuals have to decide that we want to be part of the positive change and focus on the healing. I heard two radio personalities talk about giving up social media and feeling they were happier for it. We should all be looking at what we can do to be happier for it and what can help ourselves and the community and country heal.

What are things we can do to be the change we would like to see so to speak? How do we move forward in a way that promotes healing  less anger? What can each of us do as an individual?

1. Start with yourself. Make sure you are nurturing your own personal attitude. Hang around positive people and invest in positive time spent.  Focus on what is right, not what is wrong. Change the paradigm by which you view life.

2. Take time each day to smile at people you see and to say please and thank you. Under the stress of the attack we hear wonderful stories of people helping. This is something we could be doing every day in our community and for some reason we have lost some of that. Not all because I see wonderful people reach out every day to help others.

3. Assume that you are the leader that people around you are looking for. Be aware of opportunities that come up during the day to influence the attitudes of those around you in a positive way. Happiness is contagious.

4. Look each day at what you did to make your work, your home and the community a better place. Did you add to or did you take away from. Sometimes giving is simply offering to put someone’s cart away in the parking lot or smiling at someone who may seem lonely. We can all give to make things better.

5. I think the down side of social media is that rather than looking at faces and discussing, we have become about telling the other they are wrong and the other remains faceless without a relationship. Within the social media world  it seems we have given up many  rules of relationships. Just something to think about when pushing that button to post and ask is this what I would say to them in person or is this adding to making things better.

6. Connect with extra support if that would be helpful. Bonner County has 75 wonderful non profits and many private mental health providers that offer incredible support including the Crisis Hotline and Kaniksu that provides a sliding fee scale.

As we enter into the holiday season it is a perfect time to focus on the positive and good that we see every day in the community. Let’s share the positive of the community that happens every day and focus on that. What could be more healing than to focus on the good and positive?

Will we be perfect? I know I won’t, and that is where I am hoping that the positivity of others will give me grace and bless me with my own positive attitude.

Dianne Smith, LMFT is a licensed counselor who works with both children and adults. She has offices in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and can be reached at

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