Recently, I was listening to a report on MSNBC regarding the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. As I listened to experts talking, I saw that their focus was on how to stop or prevent a shooting, rather than how to deal with the circumstances that give rise to this form of fatal aggression. Suggestions offered ran the gamut from a police presence in schools, to metal detectors at every doorway, to armed security officers on school grounds. The approach of this panel was clearly focused on how to prevent another shooting, but offered no consideration to the systemic issues of disempowerment that lead up to it. Where do these feelings of disempowerment come from? Why are there so many senseless killings in our schools in recent years? As a Shaman and Empathic Healer, I believe they come from an individual’s lack of self- confidence, a belief that they don’t matter; a too often feeling of powerlessness to speak out and take a stand for what they believe in for fear of criticism and/or ostracization by others. Although we, too, as adults fall prey to feelings of limitations and ineffectualness, young people are far less experienced and quicker to suppress their feelings and emotions, just as they are more likely to overreact when these pressures become too much to bear. I believe this fear to express opinions and emotions for fear of being the “uncool kid” or “odd man out” is a primary influence which leads young people into the exploration of drugs and other harmful indulgences. They need new ways, new tools to cope and restore a natural feeling of empowerment within themselves. There has been a lot of talk that the younger generation is more aware, more sensitive to the world and one another. They find it difficult to live in a world that seems to have such a high disregard for the value of others. It’s their sensitivity, as well as excessive, at times addictive, interaction on the various social media platforms that have created situations where kids who want and need to be accepted and more connected feel most strongly the sting of ostracization and bullying. The various programs offered in schools and other settings are helpful, but not sufficient by themselves. The real change must come from within the home and family. Parents need to recognize first and foremost that their highest responsibility is to be a guide and teacher to their children and a friend second. Children need to be given greater opportunities to make and learn the effects of their choices, even if they turn out negatively. This helps them to build greater confidence in their own sense of discernment and belief in themselves. The more they trust their ability to make wise choices, the less they can be lead into areas and actions that are harmful to themselves or others. They need new ways, a safe place to release built-up feelings of anger, resentment, helplessness and uncertainty. This is particularly true for the very young, as well as adolescents and young adults. One idea is to allow them to take out their aggressions on an inanimate object with the intention of discharging as much of the pent-up energy as possible. A punching bag would be an excellent choice or perhaps a punching clown for younger kids. If that’s not available, expressing their frustrations while running or riding their bike, playing sports or other forms of physical activity, would help as well. Another simple method to use is with a hand towel. Because of its dense weave, the towel is virtually impossible to rip. Expressing simmering or pent-up emotions, verbally or under their breath while attempting to rend the towel into pieces, offers an effective way of releasing tension and stress. Let’s also teach the young that it is okay to say things that aren’t necessarily politically correct or pleasant about themselves or others provided it is in a safe setting, as opposed to Twitter for example, as a way of clearing away negative feelings. Releasing this form of hostility helps to open the heart and dissolve the fears that keep us from being loving and compassionate. As a Shaman and Empathic Healer I would suggest that once they have expressed what they need to say and feel better, they can use the phrase below to energetically clean up any negative energies –
I ask that the energies I put out this day be converted to golden light substance, to rain down on myself and all concerned as it serves the highest good. An old favorite and quite effective exercise is suggesting that they write their feelings on paper. When done, have them tear it up. This action can be powerfully transformative because you’re giving them a way to speak out about the things that upset them without them having to share with anyone else. For an individual who is shy, this can provide a safe environment to give them their voice back. Another area where young people suffer greatly is with self-hatred. Regardless whether it’s because they don’t feel that they fit in or live up to the expectations of themselves or their parents, or for other reasons, they need to know that they are worth so much more. Be kind, compassionate and understanding of their failures. Let them know, that it is okay to make mistakes. It doesn’t make them less of a person, only more human. Remind them that every failure offers a new opportunity to make a better choice that helps them to grow. Although my focus throughout this essay has been geared towards young people, every thought I’ve expressed is equally true for adults. We all need new tools, new ways to cope with the continually changing world we live in. So many of the issues we face in life would be so much less traumatic, chaotic and damaging, if we just allowed ourselves to be ourselves.