How Do We Counter Violence and Tragedy?

Too Often Victims Focus Most on the Horrors They Have Experienced.

The recent mass shootings have brought everyone’s attention to, and created some understanding of, the suffering of victims. 

Life isn’t Fair! Sometimes really bad things happen to good people. Sometimes really bad people get away with their crimes. We never know what will happen next–and that is just plain scary but that is reality.

It has been my life experience that an evil person, or people, who are determined to create suffering and destroy others will find a way to do that; whether that is with rape, torture, religious fanaticism, a gun, a knife, psychological terrorism, all the way up to bombs and chemical warfare.

If one weapon is unavailable they will find and use another. There will always be evil perpetrators choosing to destroy others.

But unless you died from their actions (and if you’re reading this you didn’t) I believe there is a way for you to counter the abuse, and tragedy.

  • One thing we can do is be aware of the actions and possible intentions of the people around us.

  • Learn to trust your instincts about being in danger.

  • Denying the perpetrator a target is one of the tactics frequently stressed in my Marital Arts training.

  • Be willing to report possible danger to someone who will take it seriously.

  • We must be watching out for our fellow brothers and sisters. Yes, we can choose to be our “brother’s keeper”.

  • Never be a bully because too often the bullied ones eventually “Go Postal” and go on a killing spree.

Never Participate in Victim Blaming or Victim Shaming! We Don’t Need Victims Becoming Perpetrators Because They Can’t Handle The Unmerited Shame Being Placed On Them! 

We can’t change what has already happened. We can’t control the future, or anyone else. The only control we really have is our own minds, and what we choose to focus on, and how we choose to respond to the events and circumstances in our lives.


Tragedies and Suffering Also Create Heroes!


You could decide that your suffering and adversity are the training ground for you to become a True Warrior. It will prepare you to “fight the good fight” for what it right and noble. 

I’m talking about the opposite of a  powermonger and warmonger- the perpetrators who start wars. Their wars are domestic- in our homes, and in our communities with riots, gangs and mass murder which create division, strife, mass chaos, and suffering.

A True Warrior is a protector and champion of the weak, the broken, and the suffering. 

Rise Up Against the Evil that was Done to You and be a True Warrior!

Let your suffering have a purpose in making you indomitable, and unstoppable, as a force for good. Make yourself into the antithesis of all the perpetrators characteristics and what they stand for. 

We can allow our circumstances to shape us into someone magnificent or we can let them break us. 

Many of the amazing people who have done the most to create a better life for themselves and others have experienced tremendous difficulties and tragedies. Instead of letting life break them, they used the adversity as a catalyst for greatness.

How Do We Overcome The Effects of Violence and Counter the Tragedy?

We can train our minds to focus on the present moment in mindfulness, focused on how our bodies feel in the present time-not on the past trauma.

We can visualize a better life and set goals and take actions to create that life.

We must learn to focus on and store the good times, like treasures that we can keep to recall when our minds want to go back and ruminate on the painful experiences of our life.

  • How often do you stay stuck fuming over getting cut off in traffic, or an insult,  or some other negative experience and let it ruin your whole day?

  • Do you let the memories of your trauma dominate your thoughts?

  • Do you have practices that bring you into the present time and get you out of negative habits of thought? 

Do you let yourself enjoy the reverie of rehearsing a beautiful memory repeatedly-ever?

Why do we allow our minds to be dominated by the difficult instead of celebrating the sublime?

I know you have moments of wonder in your life. Store them, savor them, and keep them alive instead of the pain. 

Many victims develop Post Traumatic Stress after surviving an incident like a mass shooting or tragedy. This usually happens within the first 2 weeks after the trauma.

Women are twice as likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress than men– according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

If you suffer from Post Traumatic Stress your mind quickly activates the neural pathways associated with past trauma and stress. You are also much quicker to be stimulated into a  sympathetic nervous system response-“fight or flight” than someone without PTS.

You can learn techniques to get you out of “fight or flight” quickly. There are resources here on my website for you!

It is possible to create new pathways by forming new habits of thought. You can rewire your brain to find the good in your life with effort.

Your Perspective is the Most Powerful Tool You Have to Own Your Life and Find Joy.

My Life Has Been Action Packed and Fraught with Adversity.

I had a massage therapist who worked on me for years and he heard a lot of details of my enormous, ongoing difficulties.

One day he said, “Phoenix, I think it might be easier if you looked at your life as an action, adventure movie, or maybe a suspense thriller novel. It would probably feel less obnoxious, and a little more entertaining!”

You can feel like your life is unbearably difficult and painful, and then you suddenly see something that stops you cold and you realize, “I really have small problems compared to that.”

I’ll give you an example:

Street Fire Dancer In Mexico, on the same day I saw the man with no limbs.

Perspective on a Man with No Arms Or Legs: 

l will never forget the image of a man I saw while I was touring in Mexico. We were on a bus tour of the city, and one of the stops was at a beautiful, ornate church.

All of the wealthy tourists got off the bus and directly in front of us was a man. He was propped up on a skateboard. He had no legs, and just stubs for arms. His torso wasn’t all there and appeared to begin just below the navel. He appeared to be in his thirties.

I remember wondering, how could that man  even go to the bathroom? It didn’t look like all of his organs were there.

I’m guessing someone put him there on the skateboard all day–everyday. Beside him was a can where you could put money.

I was stunned!  Of course I donated, and I said a silent prayer of gratitude for all my blessings, and I prayed for a blessing on him.

I have thought about him for a long time and frankly, I wondered why he chose to live. He must be a very courageous man. I wish I could have learned more about him, but I don’t speak Spanish and the tour had only a brief stop there.

That is an image that will always bring perspective to my life! 

When things feel too difficult find a way to shift your perspective.

  • You might want to read uplifting quotes, or biographies of people who have overcome great difficulty. Let their stories inspire you.

  • If anyone else can overcome the seemingly impossible, you can find your own way too.

  • You will never completely forget the trauma, but find ways to divert your attention so that you don’t spend the majority of your time in your head thinking about your suffering.

  • I am not saying you should be in denial about the situation, just don’t keep going back like a dog to it’s vomit. That is not where you want to live!

  • Write your victory story and refer to it often. Even if it is just the victory story that you hope to live soon. 

  • Make a list of some things that are good in your life, or maybe even really great. Read it out loud when you feel overwhelmed.

  • Determine what your legacy of contribution will be instead of your story only being about victimization. Begin building it one day at a time.

  • Giving service to others may help bring perspective, or it may remind you that the world is all about suffering. If it feels good to serve– do it.

  • I recommend volunteering at a domestic violence or homeless shelter.

  • Or call a friend who is struggling and lend a listening ear. That will give your own problems a perspective in a hurry.

–Phoenix Alexander (Fellow Survivor)

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