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Learning to set REASONABLE goals ...

Today I discuss Daillare's lesson from PANIC including the need to set long term goals nourish and nurture your soul - goals that cannot trigger one’s feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.

In July 1994, an estimated 800,000 men, women and children were brutally killed in the African country of Rwanda. Hotel Rwanda, told a fictional tale about this genocidal event.

Maybe a handful of people reading this blog have watched HBO’s documentary, Sometimes in April, starring Debra Winger.

One man was tasked by the United Nations to ensure that there was peace in Rwanda, a Canadian named Captain Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire. His leadership and insight went unsupported by the United Nations and the Security Council, which were thousands of miles away in New York City!

He tried to shame the world into action, to no avail. His force of soldiers was unable to stop the massacre.

This week I happened to see him on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Co.) talking about his PTSD and his book, Shake Hands with the Devil. He also spoke about his ongoing efforts to end the use of child soldiers. While watching, although the politics of the whole event fascinated and obsessed me, I listened very carefully to hear just what his therapy for PTSD has taught him.

Daillare's lesson from PANIC! –

Set long term goals, goals that cannot trigger one into feeling hopeless and helpless.

When we set deadlines on our traumatized selves the results can be truly debilitating. I KNOW I have often done this in my race to “save the world”. This just stresses me out FURTHER.

Deadlines, any unhealthy deadlines, can make any person feel “pretty crazy”!

Gen. Dallaire has chosen a way to set healthier target date than I usually do in my traumatized brain, and he doesn’t “care” what the world thinks about it. He is doing what is good for his inner self. He has found his own meaning for living by working at ending the use of child soldiers something he believes will take generations to accomplish.

Dallaire is convinced that with a few thousand more soldiers and a pre-emptive action he could have prevented all those killings. His impotence, at time of crisis, preys on him still. What an enormous burden for one man to carry. It's no wonder that he is still experiencing stress and flashbacks to this traumatic event.

He returned to Rwanda in April, 2004 and allowed a documentary film company to follow his journey. In the main, the documentary has been a resounding success, and perhaps it will help people understand how our PTSD can push us to “unusual”, unpredictable actions – but it also attracted its share of criticism.

Dellaire’s final bit of self-abuse is to blame himself for his failure to shame the world to action.
~ Jack Mathews, New York Daily News

People without PTSD sometimes do not experience the world as WE do. I hope by reading about Romeo Dallaire that you will gain some insight into the pain that he has experienced and the long-term effects it has had on him.

The tears, anger and words of Dallaire are unforgettable. As we “explain” the misery our PTSD has wrecked on each of us, eventually our stories also become UNFORGETTABLE. But our goals about what we wish to accomplish must be set to make sure we stay inside the emotional wellbeing zone.

Empowering ourselves helps us lose those hopeless, helpless feelings. Taking action on topics that “push our triggers” is powerful and HELPFUL so long as we don't push ourselves to exhaustion. Balance is needed, so please be kind to yourself.

Helping war affected children is a cause near and dear to Dellaire’s heart. If you would like to support these children then please visit the website and pass the word to your friends about these forgotten victims.

To create a sane world, we ALL need to heal.


GO now to make a difference
In this perilous and broken
World.
May you all hold each human
Life in the same regard as your
Own.
May you bring serenity and
Peace to the lives of others.
May God’s Loving Spirit go with
You and guide you this day and
Always.
Amen.
Convocation Benediction Given by
The Rev. Brian Yealland, Queen’s
University, 30 October 2003


This is the second in a series of 'Lessons from Panic'. In part 1 I describe my personal story and my recovery from PTSD.
Lady Broadoak or Virginia Simson

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