Tag Archives: Adolescents

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Emerald Forest-1We’ve all seen movies with youths from Borneo, Africa, South America or other places we might regard as uncivilized go through horrendous feats of physical endurance just to be accepted as adults in their tribes. Our first comment or impression is almost always, “How barbaric?” especially, since we wouldn’t think of doing such a thing in our own “subdued” culture.  But when we actually think about it, is it really that barbaric? Is it really a travesty to put youths through such a tortuous ordeal just to belong? At first glance we might think so, but the ritual serves as a very important landmark in the youth’s psyche. So then, what is the significance of Adolescents & Rites of passage?

BreakthroughAsk yourself about the difficult physical challenges you’ve been through, anything from birth to a near death experience and ask yourself, did it make an impression on you? Did it bring that period in your life to the forefront of your perception? Was it life changing? Did it mark a new beginning or ending? Odds are, you’ve answered yes. During that time, we all tend to make decisions about ourselves and how we view our lives leading up to making important changes in our life perspective. When we pair a physically challenging situation with an intangible belief or concept, it tends to have a dramatic effect on our life and how we consequently perceive it.

Relative to the uncivilized cultures I’ve cited, and I’m sure that there are many others, those who are part of those cultures have no doubt as to their position and responsibilities within that culture and to their families, neighbors and themselves. Now ask yourself, what experiences do our “advanced civilization” western adolescents have to compare to that could possibly make an equally indelible impression on how they view themselves or to know what their position is in being part of our culture? I presently perceive none of any consequence barring a few exceptions that are, perhaps, vestigial rites which have long lost their teeth due to our over-civilizing influences and gentile preferences for how we now view ourselves as a culture.

First killIn losing our connection to nature we have lost something vital that links us to the natural flow of life tantamount to our residing in these bodies. Even animals in the wild have a first kill as their ascension into becoming an adult and fending for themselves. How can we compare?We are born into these bodies yet, excluding the simple pursuit of personal pleasures, they no longer have significance in how we conduct our lives except in terms of our supporting them to be able to carry us around to every new intangible cultural expectation that we have organized for ourselves to convince ourselves that we are superior to our animal natures; the kingdom to which we still most tangibly belong. And even in that we do a tremendously poor job poisoning ourselves with synthetic foods and pesticides, let alone, never giving ourselves time and space to renew our connections to our true nature. What do our youths have to emulate in us that shows them how to become adults? What, now, does adulthood even mean to them? With our having no holistic view of ourselves, what is it that we expect them to become? We are a lost civilization teaching our young to remain lost with us. How did this happen?

animal masteryThe first factor to contribute to this path was to come to believe that we are superior to the animal kingdom. This exhibits a primarily egotistical need to elevate ourselves above all else. Why? Because we’ve been trained to behave that way.By whom? Predominantly, by western religion.Even the bible tells us that we are to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” So for us, according to the bible, the mark of having value in life is our ability to dominate our environment and those within it. This has also encouraged us to accept and believe that humility, especially in nature and the stewardship of it, are marks of what it is to be inferior.This translates into denying our animal nature as a psychological compensation for our obvious inadequacy within it with a wholehearted encouragement from religion to accept it as being so. Yet, in Sermon on the Mount and other biblical passages, it tells us that humility is a mark of being pure of heart and acceptable to the deity responsible for “writing” the bible. Already, we see a stark contradiction in expected behavior and beliefs.

TREASURE ChestThe second factor is our physical survival coming more to the fore enabling our continued evolution toward becoming more materialistic. This is a function of and comes on the heels of an ever widening gap between the “haves and the have nots” in our culture; the top .1% if you will. You would think that with the advent of our western world and its cultures becoming more physically oriented that the environment would provide more fertile ground to renew the practice of Rite of Passage. But being still so firmly entrenched in our separation from nature as a compensating factor contributing to our perceived personal value and the our total distraction with physical pleasure, our attempted release and distraction from pain and stress and our culture’s promise that following its requirements will free us, its potential, let alone its re-implementation, has eluded us. Even if it were reinstated, it would still be viewed as barbaric. Yet, the media produces super heroes who go through that very process as we vicariously live through them wishing it could part of our lives too in movies such as Hunger games, Star Wars, Dune and the Emerald Forest. Classic and modern mythology is full of example showing personal trials and tribulations contributing to the life changing evolution of value and beliefs. As a result of assigning our own personal authority, trust and accountability to others we have lost, or more appropriately been encouraged to give up, controlling our own fates and destinies. Rites of Passage would have put that power squarely back into our own hands. However, our culture has taught us, through the promise and bribery of support and the comfort and security of group inclusion gained through our acquiescence, to give that up.

Bar_MitzvahThe few remnants of Rite of Passage that exist come in the form of impotent vestigial processes such as Bar mitzvahs, Bas mitzvahs, military service (which is no longer conscripted), Christian Confirmation and probably many more which go unrecognized as having once been effective. The few of us who still seek out the process instinctively recognize the need to find or create an experience which will mark our passage into adulthood doing things that are physically challenging and death defying like survival games and sky diving, desperately searching for a trigger that will confirm our passage into what we perceive as the adult world.

The third factor is the “advent” of adolescence. Adolescence is quoted as being a transitional period between childhood and adulthood or, more precisely, from puberty to acculturation. It is a social position that, in my opinion, has evolved in the wake of our attempts at civilizing cultures or groups of people. Etymonline.com defines civilize as “to bring out of barbarism.”

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01Barbarism is defined as “rudeness, foreign, strange or ignorant.” The use of the word civilizing became “mainstream”around 1868 enabling the submersion of barbarism through the implementation of using social rules for an enforcement of courtesy. The concept of ignorance obviously pertained to those members of the culture, mostly adolescents, who had not yet acquired the tact and finesse necessary to maneuver within and respect the social expectations designed to prevent the exposure of those who were civilized from the rawness of their own innate animal nature. At the onset of puberty in the civilized world it was assumed that these skills had yet to be developed. In other words, civilization was, essentially, awaiting the youth’s being trained into not socially acknowledging the animalistic urges that arose with the onset of puberty except within the strictest guidelines guaranteeing their denial and enabling the society’s compensated superiority to reign over the animal kingdom. I believe a compounding of that practice came on its heels as a desire of those in power to harness the power of youth in a way that would be socially controlled and dominated thereby insuring an extended security for their position of social dominance.

Native americans-2In what we call uncivilized or more primitive cultures, youths who enter puberty are given the opportunity to learn social responsibility and to become part of the tribe’s power structure through Rites of Passage. A primary example of this can be seen in the Native American tribes of the US. Although the youths were not old enough to have the experience necessary to advise and guide the rest of the tribe they were not only taken into apprenticeship learning expected social participation from seasoned members, but they were permitted to act and perceive themselves as adult members of the tribe. This permission and perception was marked by their passing through Rites of Passage. Currently, their relegation to the position of a modern adolescent by civilized society has not only taken away a youth’s potential for perceiving themselves as having become an adult but has also disarmed their capacity for self-determination and for developing Self-Trust by extending their position in perceived uselessness until they “came of age.” Essentially, they are now perceived by our culture as a liability to the rest of the civilized tribe.

Gang-1I find it curious that our contemporary anthropologists and sociologists find it so puzzling as to why the adolescents of our culture appear to be so angry and rebellious. They attribute it almost exclusively to the chaos created by hormones while never fully realizing or analyzing the social implications of the non-person status that the civilized world now holds them to. We only have to imagine ourselves in a position of feeling ineffective and lacking permission for self-determination to comprehend the underlying causes for teenage our perception confusion. This is something that the women’s movement has been battling with for decades. In this light, and as one of the worst examples in our culture, many women are glibly and chauvinistically referred to as  “trophy wives” by egotistically insecure males. Women’s social position in the Middle-Eastern-WomenMiddle East is, essentially, seen as the same as that of adolescents here…ineffectual and essentially regarded as a possession but sadly in those cultures, even a male adolescent has more power and independence than any adult woman.

So where do we go from here? I think that I can safely say that the issue is not so much about restoring Rites of Passage as it is our actual perception of becoming or acknowledging ourselves, and adolescents, as effective and accountable adults. How can we put self-determination and the ability to develop Self-Trust back under the domain of not only adolescents, but back into the hands of adults who have been taught and now believe that their lives are inconsequential except as a vehicle for the benefit of the wealthy and the powerful (whom they have now unwittingly come to view as their parental surrogates)? I have no solution other than to say that we must become more aware of how our actions, based on our own insecurities and our own resulting compulsion to manipulate and control in order to compensate, interfere with the well-being and potential for others, adults included, to grow into a place where it is even feasible for them to develop Self-Trust through being allowed to perceive their lives from the perspective of their own heart’s direction, let alone to receive the opportunities to pursue the emerging of that perception through their own personal bored studentsexperiencing. We can only learn so much from a book and, as it is becoming much more obvious in schools, most poignantly as children grow into adolescents, that words still don’t teach. The old adage actions speak louder than words is even more alive and verifiable than ever. If we treat our adolescents from the place of our own insecurity, preventing them from assuming the positions in life that we fear losing due to our own perceived and trained sense of inadequacy and ineffectiveness, they will most certainly grow up to repeat our pattern through emulating what they’ve seen in us. Children learn by example. In fact, everyone does. We must first, ourselves, come to a place of Self-Trust before we can even hope to understand how to raise self-directing adults who feel effective, useful, needed and accepted as part of our culture. Then their mayhem will cease and our confusion about their social position will diminish. But until that time they will remain as an enigma to us and viewed as a liability by most of society.

Chained in the dungeon-2These are two words that have been tremendously “buzzed” and exhausted in terms of content. Before we plunge into contemporary semantics and get lost in perspective, let’s look at their origins.

Independence comes from the 15th century French root dependre meaning “to hang from or hang down.” Freedom comes from the Old English word freogan meaning “to liberate, to rid” or to be “not in bondage.” We can easily see that both words have an underlying meaning of not being bound or to be cut loose from if bound. But to feel this type of perception we must first have or feel a condition(s) that somehow makes us feel bound, limited or restricted. We need to understand that the origins of these perceived restrictions are probably much more subtle and not easily observable when it comes to our contemporary culture and our daily attitudes in life. In our surface understanding of the words we almost invariably apply them to national concerns and then apply them to personal and social conditions. We can see them as being, essentially the same but on a different scale. The major difference between the application of their meanings is that adolescents and people who feel oppressed see them as a need defined by their personal conditions where as a politician sees them as concepts to be used to promote bondage and commitment of their constituents while quoting them in terms of the oppressed conditions to which the people are to be subjugated. This may take a bit to clarify but the dynamic, which remains the same in both cases, but is approached differently by each. Let’s first look at the similarities and origins between adolescents and oppressed peoples.

Freedom and independence have become the battle cry of every adolescent and oppressed person. We can also include persecution under the heading, however, it is an extreme of the condition but with a much deeper and more desperate motivation. I’d rather not delve into that too deeply here as there are more complicated dynamics at work than just perceived oppression or subjugation.

Love & ApprovalLet’s start with the adolescent. But to understand the adolescent perspective we must begin with their childhood. When we come into this world we learn to obey our parents as they hold the keys to all that we need: food, comfort, love and guidance. As children this is all we know as we’ve never been exposed to more. Because they provide all that we need we accept their domination in showing us what to do, how to behave, how to feel, how to think and what to expect. If we are abused by them, we still know no different as they are still the only game in town. They are our world. They are god to us. It is also during this time that we are told that there exists a deity outside the family running the show that we must also abide by. Eventually, we are told that this deity runs our parent’s show too. Based on our initial dependency on our parents and the extension of their authority into the world through aligning with a deity we now have a complete setup for external domination. The world now dictates who we should be, want, need and believe. We learn that our own feelings are not important and that it is more important how we appear to the world than how we feel or what our conditions are. Then something happens.

Children Rich & poorWe begin school in the outside world. Eventually through our exposure to other children we begin to realize that not all family worlds are run the same way. Some kids have more toys than we do. Some kids are allowed out later than we are. Some parents don’t keep track of their homework and chores. We start to question why we are different from other kids. We start to wonder why they are entitled to so much more or less than we are. By the time we reach puberty this line of thinking takes off like a rocket as our hormones supercharge what we feel. We begin to rebel against our family and the world. We feel oppressed and restricted. It is this awareness that not everyone lives by the same rules and guidelines that contributes to our urge to free ourselves from circumstance that we believe curtail our energy and movement. This is where adolescents become similar to any oppressed peoples; the awareness that not everyone lives by the same rules leading us to the need to break free. But there is another belief that has subtlety and efficiently moved into place; the belief that the world determines our circumstances and not the other way around. This makes us easy pickings for any outside authority, such as government and religion, to manipulate us into conforming to whatever behavior will generate and continue their support, approval and inclusion in the national “family.” Religion goes one step further. Required behavior for their continued support and inclusion demands that we behave altruistically by committing to putting the welfare of others, mostly theirs, ahead of our own benefit. The stage is set.

New car keysEnter the media. Showing that we could be driving new cars on country roads with no traffic. Showing us how we can be “successful” people having our own business free from family, regulation and taxes. Superheroes and vigilantes defying the law “doing it their way” and becoming social heroes gaining the approval and acceptance of the “masses” while “saving the world.” “Ordinary” people acquiring money, power and command over the opposite sex confirming their worthiness and desirability simply by buying a product.

The media has capitalized tremendously on the desperate need for the love, approval and acceptance we believe we might not have received as children. We can have love, approval and acceptance simply by buying a product, taking a course, allowing financial advisement, using the right deodorant, buying the right car, using the right breath mints, wearing the right clothing. Shall I go on? Yet, there is another underlying assumption in all this externally generated push for us to buy more. It’s the allure of being unobligated to anyone else for us to be able to “find and keep” happiness.

Envy-1What’s ironic is that this push for love, approval and acceptance has only made us more aware and more attentive to its absence. According to the Law of Attraction, where we put our energy (attention) only serves to feed and grow what it is we’re focusing on. So in following the commercial media, that is, watching TV with commercials, we end up feeling worse about ourselves than before we started watching.

Consider an example if you will. Statistically, and oddly enough in conjunction with the Law of Attraction, one gas station on one corner will earn a finite amount of revenue. However, if three additional gas stations occupy all four corners, the amount of revenue collected at that corner will be much more than just the sum of the four despite fears of individual competition. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The point is, added focus on gas on that corner has increased universal returns.

So, let’s now apply this law to applying our focus on being unloved, approved of or accepted. The more we feed those thoughts and feelings, the larger the perceived deficit grows. The universe says, “This is where you’re putting your energy? Then this is what I shall give you more returns on.” The universe is mindless. It simply responds to what we focus on.

Cross-on-MountainNow. Let’s look at freedom and independence. The more we focus on not having them, the more the universe will bring us circumstances affirming and emphasizing what it is that we don’t have thereby confirming our belief! As we think, so we are. Whether you are religious, atheist or agnostic, you cannot deny the logic of the dynamics of energy. Those who are religious have been trained to believe that the “lord will provide.” As fatalistic as that may sound, the universe, lord, god, devil or whomever we believe is in charge will provide whatever we energize. They (those we worship, as imaginary as they may be) are only the universe operating according to the Law of Attraction. If we emphasize the need for freedom and independence, the universe will bring us more circumstances that support that need, aka, more restrictive circumstances that verify our beliefs.

So, based on this, you’re probably saying to yourself, “So what do I focus on?” The answer is simple. The law works no matter where we focus. What to do? Focus on what we do have that is working. Talk about what you can do. Talk about the things you do have that you appreciate. Talk about the things that you have that are aligned with what you want to have, be or do. This does not mean tell yourself you are rich and competent when in your heart you actually believe that you’re not. You cannot fool the universe. It resonates to what is actually in your heart and belief system. As you believe, so you are. Or, more appropriately, as you feel, so you are. If you Kayak on rapids-1feel that you are not confident, rather say to yourself, “I am becoming more confident every day.” In acknowledging both you are allowing the energy to flow through both. That means the having of confidence is also getting play. You’re not saying something that your mind can’t accept or won’t believe. You’re acknowledging the potential for both failure AND success. Your heart and mind can accept and believe this and the universe will support it. What you feel will manifest. It may take a little time for the “universal manager” to catch up to prior programming and arrange circumstances that will confirm your new chosen belief but it will eventually manifest as you gradually remove your resistance to its existence by terminating focusing on what you aren’t or don’t have.

TV-Advertising-1In the same light, if the media you’re watching does not confirm projecting energy and focus in the direction of what you want to be, have or do…turn the channel until you can find a station that does. If you can’t find one, turn it off. Surround yourself with people that support what you’re working toward. Do NOT commiserate with others about what you don’t have. It will only serve to show the universe what you don’t want more of…and you’ll get it.

Simply put, if you focus on what you don’t have (freedom and independence), the Law of Attraction will provide you with more of the same. If you focus on what you do have (freedom and independence), the Law of Attraction will provide you with more of the same. Energy simply follows thought. It’s up to you to choose.