Brooklyn Subway Shooting Was Horrific - How to Process Difficult Emotions

mental health stress management wellness Apr 28, 2022

A couple weeks ago we experienced a scary event here in Brooklyn. As you may have heard, there was a man who set off a smoke canister in the car of a subway and then started shooting.


29 people were injured - 10 of those people were shot. 

Amazingly no one was killed.


So here at the Matheson McCord household, my husband had dropped off our daughter at school and we were going about our day. I was just about to start my workout and I saw a notification come up on my phone saying there had been a shooting in a Brooklyn subway.


I mentioned it to my husband and we had our OMG reactions and a brief conversation about it being scary. 


I started my workout for the day and about 20 minutes into getting my sweat on, I get a text from our daughter saying that they were in lockdown at that school - she thought there had been a school shooting.


Almost immediately after I saw that, my husband came into the room saying he had seen our daughters text as well, and we started texting her back to clarify what was going on and turned on the news.


I told her there was a shooting at a subway station, and that we were trying to find out more information.


Sure enough the news was reporting the subway shooting, that the man had fled the scene, and that all the schools in the area had been locked down for safely.


So we texted back and forth with our daughter telling her everything we were hearing, and I stayed glued to the TV for any new developments in the situation.


At this time a few of my friends and family members were texting me, wondering if we were close to the shooting - if we were ok - so I was back and forth with them telling them what I knew, which truthfully wasn’t much.


Then we got a phone call from our daughter’s school.


It was a Robo Call saying "Hello, this is school such-n-such. We are sheltering in place. No one can enter or leave the building. Your child is safe. We will continue to keep you updated through phone call and email. If you need to contact us you can call (and they stated the number)". 


Well, I have to tell you - THAT made me even more fearful. For some reason that cold Robo Call made me feel more uncomfortable about the entire situation.


Now let me be clear…


Intellectually I knew our daughter was safe. I knew she was probably in the safest place she could be.


Logically I knew at some point, the lockdown would be over, she would come home, and everything would be fine.


However, my brain and my emotions were going on a journey full of terror. 


All I could think about was that I didn't have access to my child. That I couldn’t go and get her, that they wouldn't release her to me, that she was being “forced” into being separated from us.


Again - intellectually I knew why. But emotionally it was very upsetting.


Helicopters were flying above us… there was a manhunt trying to find the shooter… and my brain kept offering me thoughts about actual school shootings and parents who say goodbye to their kids and then they don’t come home, and the terror kept coming in waves. It was very real and the situation was too close to home - even though I knew she was ok, my body went into fight, flight and freeze. 


My adrenaline levels shot up, cortisol was pulsing through my body, and my sympathetic nervous system shot into overdrive.


So we kept texting with our daughter and then 4 hours later I received another Robo Call from the school notifying us that the Shelter in Place Order had been lifted and that we could pick up our children.


My husband Scott went to pick her up and bring her home and it felt so good to have her back with us. I can't even explain how wonderful it was to have all of us together in the same space again.


So that all took place on a Tuesday.



Two days later I was sitting at the dining room table neck deep in getting our taxes ready for our accountants, and EVERYTHING was annoying me.


I mean everything.


The guinea pig squeaking (which I normally think it’s super cute) was driving me nuts, the chair I was sitting on was bugging me, the sun coming in through the window as it set was pissing me off! Everything was bugging me.


Even my husband's breathing!


That's right! My amazing, wonderful, loving husband was sitting in the kitchen minding his own business and the way he was breathing was driving me up the wall.


I could have strangled him - I’m not even kidding.


We even had a conversation about it - and I admitted that I was irritable, and that everything was bugging me, but that his breathing was driving me batty!!


We both laughed and I'm grateful that he was a good sport about it - and I thought the fact that I brought some awareness to the situation and even laughed about it would help to dissipate my irritability… but it did NOT!


He continued to breath and I continued to seethe!


So this is what I realized in that moment:

  • I needed to go to bed. Like immediately!
  • My emotions still needed time to process.
  • I was using work and the NEED to get our taxes done as an excuse to avoid feeling all the feels.
  • I needed time to RECOVER.


I realized that there was no way I could be productive or effective in what I was doing while I sat there being annoyed and aggravated by absolutely everything!!


I was still coming down from that terrorizing situation. From the adrenaline and the cortisol pulsing through my body. From being in a true state of fight or flight.


My mind and my body still needed time to recover - so I went to bed.


So how does this relate to entrepreneurship?


Well let’s dive into that.


What this whole scenario reminded me of was how much we need to take the time for our bodies, and our brains, to physically recover.


We’re working so hard, and sometimes things don't always go the way we plan, and we fail, and we try again, and we feel frustrated and overwhelmed - and I know there are times when you think you are never going to catch a break!


I know that you feel that way because I feel that way.


I know the disappointment of a launch not going as planned... or having a goal that seems impossible to achieve... or not signing up as many clients as you had hoped for.


And I understand that is very different from a man getting on a subway and shooting a gun at people - but it took that terrifying circumstance to remind me that I hadn’t been prioritizing the time that I needed to RECOVER!


We’re entrepreneurs, and mothers, and partners, and daughters, and sisters and friends, doing ALL THE THINGS!


If you do not prioritize time to recover physically, mentally and emotionally you are creating a steeper climb for yourself. You are creating more chaos and hardship.


Do you see that?

You are creating more work.

You are creating more struggle.

You are lengthening the time it will take you to succeed.


If I had stayed at the dining room table feeling irritated and aggravated and annoyed - how much farther along do you think I would have gotten at trying to get our taxes sorted out?


Not very far.


I probably would have made mistakes, missed important information, and it would have taken longer to complete.


Recognizing that I needed to walk away and get some sleep, sped up my success rate of getting what I needed to get done.


Is this making sense?


I know it’s hard in the moment because you’re thinking "I need to get this done, I have to finish this, I’m so behind. I have to reach my goal". 


But we need to practice seeing that those are just thoughts. They're not factual. And those thoughts are based in fear and are NOT serving us.


Something else we have to practice sitting in the feelings that are coming up when things aren't’ going our way…when we feel we don’t have control… when shit is hitting the fan and we feel it's all happening against us.


There's a balance of recognizing the thoughts that aren’t serving us… pausing to really feel the emotions that are surfacing… and then navigating the steps after processing those emotions to move forward in alignment and in a way that will support self-care, self-compassion, and self-love.


This can be incredibly challenging when you’re right smack dab in the middle of chaos and uncertainty.


So if things aren’t going exactly the way you want...


If there are goals you are working towards and you feel like no matter what you do, nothing is falling into place...


If there’s an area of your life or your business where you’re thinking “how much longer do I have to endure this?”...


Then I invite you to first sit in the feelings that those thoughts are bringing up without judgement.


That is the key my friends - feel the feelings of insecurity, of overwhelm, of not enoughness, of sadness, of defeat, of fear - and allow them.


Allow them like you would allow a child to feel their feelings.


Isn’t it funny how we tell little kids that it’s ok to cry, and it’s ok to be scared, and it’s ok to feel what they’re feeling. And not only is it ok - but it’s valid! It’s Healthy!


But as grown adults we judge the heck out of ourselves if we feel like we’re not good enough.


First I don’t feel good enough and now I’m going to shit all over myself for feeling not good enough.


What are we doing???


We need to nurture ourselves. Have compassion for ourselves. Love ourselves as we would a child.


Because when we can sit in those sucky feelings of not enoughness, it’s also much easier to see the side of us that feels like a badass. That’s empowered and intelligent and charming and caring and strong.


When we can sit in those sucky feelings we also gain perspective and are better able to make decisions to take care of ourselves.


Like the night I wanted to strangle my husband for BREATHING.


I recognized I was irritable. I verbalized it out loud. I communicated the weird shit that was going on in my head. We had a little laugh about it - and as I continued to bring awareness to it and sit in it, I was able to make the healthy choice to just go to bed.


Imagine how the night would have gone if I tried to resist those feelings. If I tried to make them go away by working harder. If I judged myself and scolded myself and told myself that I'm being ridiculous and that I have to get this work done. 


I probably at some point would have lashed out at my husband, projecting all my own shit onto him. 


Poor guy wouldn’t have known what hit him. I’m sure he would have been hurt and triggered and probably would have gotten angry back at me from a place of being hurt. 


Then I REALLY wouldn't have been able to continue working on my taxes, I would have gone to bed even more stressed and caused more chaos and hardship.


I’m sure many of you reading can relate. We’ve all had really dumb fights with the ones we love because we were neck deep in resistance - instead of fully embracing acceptance.


As we build our businesses, the practice of embracing acceptance is EVERYTHING!


It's not just about changing your thoughts. Because during that experience I was having thoughts that she was safe. That everything would be fine. That she would be home soon.


AND part of me was spinning in uncertainty and fear. And that’s ok. That’s a normal response as a mother.


I don't want to scold myself for having thoughts that are creating those feelings, and then try to change my thoughts.


I know in the coaching world we say all the time, "Practice trying on some new thoughts. What are the thoughts that will serve you? Why are you choosing to think that thought that is keeping you stuck?"


And there is a time and a place for all of that… but what I’m saying is that there is also a time and a place to feel absolutely terrified. And that’s ok.


It won’t stop you from achieving the life you want. It wont stop you from being the badass I know you can be.


If anything… allowing yourself to feel it, embrace it and accept it will HELP you get where you want to go. 


It will help you to see what’s really going on. It will help you make decisions that will serve you and your well being.



So here's a journaling prompt for you: What emotions do you have a tendency to resist feeling and why?

It’s juicy. It’s revealing. And the more you write, the more your brain will offer, and the more insight you’ll have.


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