It fears me sometimes to look at the young generation today. I work for a Counselling Department at a University. Currently gathering annual stats for our department. Noticing the many, many reasons why students engage in counselling services for their first time, and I’m so glad they do reach out. I am a firm believer in Counselling therapy. But when I hear first year students tell me things like “my parents told me I can’t go to university unless I go to Counselling”, or “my roommates are bullying me I’m afraid to go to my dorm because they might pick on me”, or “I spent all my money on drinking and I don’t know how I’ll get through the rest of the year”…
The comments I’ve heard over the years from students worries me about society and the education we’re doing. A lot of are youth don’t know the skills to deal with life. We put so much effort and money on campaigns for “anti-bullying”, “anti-drinking”, “anti-drugs”, anti everything… What if instead of all these campaigns identifying a problem, then raising awareness about the problem, we focused more on a solution. Demonstrating the skills, tools, knowledge, that will enhance their life. Set them up for success.
In my professional training as a hypnotherapist I was always told never to suggest things that you do not want to your client to achieve. You should always re-frame suggestions into something positive, something they should do. And to me this makes sense for society cause in a way all these campaigns are creating the future messages, future standards for our generations to come.
Example of a hypnotic suggestions for fighting anxiety: “notice how much relief you feel now…how refreshing it is to know that every day forward you feel more relaxed… you feel like a weight has been lifted… it feels as though a burden has been lifted and a new beginning has been opened… absolutely free of any unnecessary worries…”
You would never suggest “it feels really difficult right now dealing with your life… you know anxiety will only make your life worse… you should not do this to yourself… anxiety will only cause you unnecessary worries…” this would not have the same result. This would only suggest to the client that all of their current negative messages “my life is very difficult” and that “my anxiety is making her life worse” would be validated. But this is how most people talk to themselves. Making ourselves feel worse because we are telling ourselves all the things we need to stop doing, and that’s scary. We have coped with those messages for a long time, most people don’t want to change. Shifting those internal cues to a growth mindset are so much more challenging as we get older.
These are just random thoughts but what if instead of “anti-bullying” there were things like “self-awareness weeks” and “personal development days” in our education systems, and why not in the workplace too. Instead of highlighting what’s “wrong” let’s shift our thinking by establishing something new. Starting from day one teaching about life lessons, self acceptance. Messages like “you cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself”. These are messages that teach people to reflect on the things that trigger “hate/love” feelings for them and work on themselves. Cause that’s what life is really about being the best version of yourself, always growing, not the best degree, the best job or the best everything else.
Create public events where instead of wearing pink and talking about how bad bullying is. We ave workshops and events that teach the change in reality that need to see to improve the real problem here. Which for the most part is NOT the “bullying”, “discrimination”, “drinking”. But the way we were taught to treat ourselves, to deal with the negative messages people throw at us. The ability to bounce back when you’re knocked down. What if more kids realized that a child that bullies is usually the one struggling. Why can’t we raise children to value their own worth. Defend themselves when they’re made fun of, speak up for themselves. I feel that we’re more often telling the people to keep our thoughts to ourselves because they mean nothing.
Let’s be real “healthy drinking” is more important than anti-drinking, “healthy criticism” is more valuable than teaching kids to say nothing. Kids need to learn if they smell, they need to shower, if they are rude they won’t have many friends… But today you’re not even allowed to tell a child “I don’t want you to play with me” without their world colliding. They can’t handle any type of rejection. We need be more realistic with them, life is no fantasy. Not everyone is going to like them, prince charming doesn’t exist, everyone is not nice to everyone else, we’re all on a journey of growth. Parents have to watch kids suffer a little bit to learn, and Children need to tolerate discomfort a little. We’ve kind of gone extreme in protecting our kids from everything that might hurt them, but they need to feel hurt. Because guess what? Kids are not prepared for the challenges when they’re on their own in life. Let’s spark up a shift and be more real about life. Honesty teaches them honesty! Let’s not paint a pretty picture that is never going to be a reality. Let’s pass on the knowledge to know that they can accomplish anything. Let’s make them driven. The negative comments, people, set backs, or irrational fears are just lessons that they can grow from. We don’t have to pretend that negativity does not exist. Let’s give them more powerful knowledge and accept the darkness of life too, we know that we cannot have light without darkness.