by Kathi Szabo

It has been 20 years since 9/11.  A tragic day that everyone over vividly remembers. An event that forever changed each of us.

Many lost friends and family. Others stood and watched in horror, questioning why. And still others did whatever they could do to help those more affected by the attack.

We all grieved, but we all grieved in our own way.

We all were changed, but we were all changed in our own way.

Our country will honor those that perished on that horrific day, as well as those that served in the days, months and years afterward. We will reflect on the loss we feel inside, a nation in mourning. Our hearts will once again hold space for the trauma experienced by all. We will note the impact it made on us and our lives.

There is no questioning that we are shaped by our past events. Our present self has been molded and formed by all the events in our lives, the good and the bad.

But, did those events change us? Or is it our reaction to the event that changed us?

We’ve all heard that life is 1% what happens to us and 99% of how we respond, right?

So how do we determine our reaction, our response? Can it really be true that we choose how we want to be changed?

How were you affected by 9-11-01?

I believe every American was somehow changed by this event. Yet, you and I did not change in the exact same way.

So, if events mold and shape us, why wouldn’t an event have the same affect on all of us?

Wouldn’t we all have the same reaction to 9/11?

That leads me back to my original question, did the event change us, or did we choose how to be changed by the event.

I think subconsciously it’s the latter.

We choose how we react and thus we choose how we will be changed.

After 9/11, some, including successful NFL Football player Patrick Tillman, decided to join the military and serve their country. Tillman ultimately gave his life for his country.

Others, like me, came to realize how precious family and friends are to us. Thus, we began taking more time to spend with them.

What made some take up arms, and others spend more time with family?

It is the same when we see how differently everyone is reacting to the pandemic.  Some of us have had increased anxiety. While others feel lonely and isolated. Still others have taken the extra time at home to expand their knowledge and interests.

How does our psyche work?

Why, do we have different reactions, to a globally shared event?  How does our mind decide how we will react?

I believe it starts the day you were born.

Have you seen this viral video of the baby noticing everything?  If not, take a moment and watch it!  If nothing else, it will put a smile on your face.

See how the baby is absorbing everything. Right from the moment of birth, we start using our senses and we begin to have our own independent reactions to what is happening around us.

We are beginning to be shaped and molded.

This is why psychology studies the importance of the bonding of an infant to their caregiver. Humans begin to take shape and become their own independent being even at this early stage.

All of these moments help us form our own thoughts and opinions.

We choose our reactions to things, based on our past experiences.  Our brain uses what it already knows and is familiar with.

We decide on our reaction based on the people currently in our sphere of influence. If our father is a police officer, our reaction to police will be quite different than someone who’s father is corporate executive.

Ultimately, we choose how to react.

We choose how we will be changed. There is no doubting that we are shaped and molded by our experiences. When we consciously and mindfully decided how we will react, how we will change, we keep the power in us. We create ourselves into whomever we want to be.

How did the attacks on September 11, 2001 change you?

Please share in the comments.