Remember “duck and cover”? If you’re in your 40s or older and grew up in the U.S., you probably do. I recall those classroom drills designed to help us survive a nuclear attack by hiding under our desks. Yeah, right.
Rod, a child during the height of the Cold War, was going through old scrapbooks last night and found his 1958 copy of the government-issued “Handbook for Emergencies.” Included were disaster preparedness tips for fire, flood hurricane and tornado…and nuclear fallout.
I found myself particularly drawn to the page excerpted here (click to view entire page), initially for its sheer lunacy: Shower to get the radioactive “dust” off of you, and vacuum up the remainder.
But then I got to thinking…It’s darkly ridiculous advice for surviving nuclear fallout. But it’s not half bad for another kind of fallout, the kind that follows a painful argument with someone important to you.
Radioactivity decays as time passes. The pain of an old hurt can diminish with time, if you let it. But if you replay the circumstances that lead to the pain frequently, you keep it raw. Better to let some decay happen so you can regain your strength for dealing with the initial fallout.
The danger in decontamination lies in exposure. Allowing repeated exposure to a conflict is like running a marathon with your socks chafing the whole time. Ouch. When you don’t confront the conflict and keep allowing yourself to be exposed to it, your avoidance contributes to further contamination.
Radiological monitoring will determine the intensity of radiation in your area. Knowing the hints and symptoms of a conflict that’s getting destructive helps you take steps to reduce the intensity or move away from it for a time.
Decontamination should be carried out only under official instructions. While not always the case, I would be remiss as a conflict management coach and mediator if I didn’t comment on this one. Sometimes, turning to a professional can help you get your balance back and engage the difficult conversation so there’s no more damage done.
How do you recover from and address the fallouts in your life? Do you remember other Cold War-era warnings that we’d get a chuckle or some learning from?