The difference between thoughts and feelings

“One ought to hold onto one’s heart, for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too”

– Friedrich Nietzsche-

We have to accept it as a reality of our world that much of what we think and feel is being shaped by social media platforms cementing beliefs and perspectives.

Emotions are an involuntary initial response to external stimuli by the brain’s limbic system as part of our evolutionary survival system.

The ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers were well aware of this human trait. So, they developed a philosophy of life that maximizes positive emotions, reducing negative emotions, and honing virtues of character.

The Stoics believed that the way in which you respond to the world is your responsibility. They propose that most of the time your response to any given situation is a choice. At any moment you have the ability to choose one response over another.

Wisdom was seen as living in harmony with the divine Reason of that which governs nature. They trained the mind to remain calm amid the vicissitudes of life and fortune.

When a mass circulation newspaper prints on its front page an article on what would happen if Russia dropped a nuclear bomb on London, this inevitably triggers toxic emotions such as fear, anger, and outright terror. You have little control over such emotions, the brain’s limbic system is triggered into fight or flight mode.

When you go into rational thought you will start questioning the intention of the article and realize that the newspaper is merely pushing emotional buttons in order to boost its circulation and thus its advertising revenue. You will ask yourself: What is real? What is true? What is exaggeration and hyperbole?

Are you chained to your past with your self-talk?

Thoughts are always just that: Thoughts: They dwell on either an event of the past or an imaginary scenario of the future. Your quality of life will be severely impeded if you remain chained to self-talk that centers around the sadness over that which was and is no more or a perceived “grievance” that someone has inflicted on you. The mind is trapped in worries and concerns if it is fed a constant dosage of negative news on the economy.

The authenticity of the heart-mind

Heart mind feelings come from an entirely different space. Fear is transmuted by trust, and hate with love. Unconditional love and empathy come from a grounded trust in the power of a higher entity, the universal intelligence or God.

While an animal reacts mostly from the limbic instinctual level, the human has been given the power of choice and the ability to reflect. You need not be chained to your past. Every moment you can decide through choice to change your destiny.

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Where to start?

The inevitable question is: How do I regain control of toxic emotions triggered by a newspaper headline or a hurtful remark by a loved one? The first step is acceptance of those negative thoughts. Trying to push them away will only make the monster bigger. Before going into immediate attack mode, you could take a deep breath and ask yourself: Is my anger and hurt really justified? Where do I recognize that anger from? Where do I know that feeling of not being seen, heard, or disrespected?

A healthy body creates a healthy mind

If you are living a mainly sedentary lifestyle you will be far more prone to becoming a victim of negative emotions. If you feel healthy, fit, and strong you will be in a better position to “catch” the runaway horses of your mind. By practicing regular deep walking in nature you will find an inner rhythm that is in tune with your purpose and destiny. You will literally be walking toxic emotions off. Create a fixed time every day where you practice meditation, yoga, taichi, or qigong. These ancient body arts are perfectly suited to realign body, mind and soul.

According to the Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius “very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When brokenness leads to healing

One of the common causes of pain and suffering in the human mind is the inability to accept the impermanence and unpredictability of life’s seasons.

The world is constantly changing around us and we are changing with it, but often the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown and the desire to keep things “just as they are.” Adapting to new circumstances may require the hard work of letting go of external things, friends, associations, and especially old habits and beliefs.

Searching for purpose can sometimes be a trap

Life happens with “up-and-down” cycles and hardly ever along one clear trajectory. “I just can’t find my purpose,” a young woman said to me. “It just stresses me out completely when I just think of it.”

The misconception is that destiny has chosen for us one clear purpose in life that just has to be found like a hidden treasure. The reality is that one purpose often leads to another. One experience in life creates the foundation for the next step or elevation of consciousness. A job that we once carried out with much passion, energy, and creativity becomes routinely mundane where the days just become a hard chore.

You realize that the person you once fell in love with and shared the same interests, hobbies, and ideas with is now very different. You no longer agree about anything whether it’s the food you eat, political affiliation, or the friends you are going to meet for dinner in the evening.

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The dream house you bought some years ago is showing cracks. The new neighbors are noisy, your favorite restaurant around the corner has closed and the garden is too small for your children to play.

In this week’s podcast “Living to BE” I interviewed Kevin Palmieri who was living the typical American dream with a six-figure income, a beautiful girlfriend, and a nice car. And yet he was deeply unhappy and contemplating suicide. It is in those moments of brokenness that you are forced into introspection. And so began Kevin’s journey into self-development and awareness. He founded Next Level University and a podcast that reaches over half a million people in 125 countries.

Another hill to climb

You will be on a journey climbing a hill and when you reach the hill you find that there is yet another hill to climb. Many accomplished artists, writers, and entrepreneurs describe the feeling of emptiness and even sadness after reaching their goal, realizing that being on the journey was in reality the destination. The process of writing the book created greater fulfillment than actually finishing it. Building the company into a million-dollar enterprise was more energizing than running it. Painting the picture more fulfilling than having it completed.

Nature’s path is constant evolution on a never-ending spiral of change, adaptation, withdrawal, and momentum. If you are going through a difficult time at the moment, one of Abraham Lincoln’s favourite sayings might be comforting to you:

“This too shall pass.”

It is an ancient Persian adage reflecting the temporary nature of all things and the transitory nature of human existance.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Live to work or work to live?

Assuming that you are an average person working a full-time job of about 40 hours per week you will spend at least 50 years of your lifetime in the workplace. If you are unhappy in that job you will have spent a large portion of your life feeling miserable, negatively impacting your family life and your entire spectrum of well-being.

It, therefore, makes sense to find a job with a vibrant, healthy company culture where you can fully live your potential and creative abilities. But if we look at job satisfaction statistics there are many working people out there who are exceedingly unhappy in their jobs. In America, only 20 percent of people are passionate about what they do for a living.

Job satisfaction appears to be highest among the clergy, chiropractic, caregivers, and high-level executives. Low satisfaction is particularly prevalent among waiters, roofers, cashiers, and bartenders. 

It’s seldom just the money that gives people satisfaction. Employees want to feel recognized and are most happy where their own values are aligned with those of the company. They thrive in a vibrant culture of social interaction, creativity, and respect.

This week I had as a guest on my podcast “Living to BE” Dr. Shahrzad Nooravi, an expert on what drives a healthy corporate culture. In this podcast Dr. Shahrzad explains:

  • The importance of leaders and senior teams “walking their talk”.
  • The keys to a successful coaching program.
  • How to keep up the momentum of a healthy, dynamic, and creative culture where employees feel they are a respected part of the company?

A healthy corporate culture starts with you. One kind word or gesture to a colleague can make a world of difference. It simply pays to help create a healthy space in the environment where you spend a good portion of your lifetime. Life does not start at some time in the distant future when you reach retirement in the illusion that you can spend the rest of your life resting.

Albert Camus once said that to have time “is at once the most magnificent and the most dangerous of experiments. Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”

How you spend, cherish, and purposefully live every moment of your time is key to a life of bliss.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Suffering: A pathway to divinity?

“Light will someday split you open; even if your life is now a cage.“ – Hafiz

It’s a question mankind has mulled for millennia: If there is an omnipotent creator, why does he allow humanity to be afflicted by suffering, wars, disease, and natural catastrophe?

The images we are currently witnessing of the horrendous slaughter of innocent civilians in Ukraine by Russian artillery is something that has occurred throughout history: Evil tyrants going on a rampage without thought or compassion for the carnage and suffering they are causing to millions of lives.

We, humans, are quick to personalize and blame an external God for failing to intervene. It’s a simplistic way of trying to comprehend or find an explanation for the incomprehensible.

God is a state of BEING

God has often been seen as a strict father figure punishing his flock for sinful or bad behavior. The Mystics in contrast view God, the universal creator or the divine as “a state of Being” – the connection to pure love, kindness, and compassion. The manifestation of evil would therefore be the opposite condition – the state of complete absence of God.

Most suffering that we experience in our personal lives or that we witness in the external world is a result of bad human choices and actions carried out from a low level of spiritual disconnect. It is interesting to note that the German word for sin is “Sünde” which has its origins in the old-Germanic expression of “sunta” which means missing the target, straying from the right path or carrying out actions that have negative consequences.

The five stages of grief

The American-Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has defined five stages of grief when a person has experienced great loss or trauma. There is denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance or surrender. Without surrender, we remain locked at a low energy level of grievance, and recrimination.

It is especially in the final stage of “surrender” where the heart is broken open to the soul. Jesus dying on the cross is a great analogy for the transmutation of suffering in opening the pathway to divinity and resurrection.

Connecting to the spark within

The 13th-century Mystic Meister Eckhart describes it as the sacred “Fuenklein” or spark. Within that spark, your own brightness and that of God are at one with each other. And it all comes down to making the right choices from the moment you get up in the morning.

Understanding your own thought process while practicing gratitude, and going into service is the key to creating the life you want by moving to a higher energy frequency. I had a wonderful chat this week about this topic with the Australian best-selling author and executive coach Barry Nicolaou.

In our conversation, Barry takes us through six steps toward deconstructing toxic emotions, fears, and habitual thinking. You can listen to it on my Podcast “Living to Be” and watch it on a Youtube video.

It is revealing that when you choose the low road of stale and toxic energy you will attract the same around you. It is an old saying and yet so true: Show me the five people you asssociate with the most and I will tell you who you are.

Choose instead the high path of compassion, love, kindness and forgiveness and you will feel the blessings come back to you manifold.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Whatever happened to the good debate

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial and uninformed.

Nelson Mandela

In ancient Greece, the exchange of different ideas in lively debate and argument was seen as crucial to education and growth. The key to personal growth and self-development is how we master the art of conversation and active listening.

Yet increasingly the narrative in our digital age has become a slamming match between opposing views. Dialogue with persons who don’t share our opinions, beliefs, and habits appears increasingly difficult if not impossible.

Free democratic societies are based on the acceptance and tolerance of different cultures, ideas, and beliefs. If we retreat back to tribal silos of talking only to those people who share our opinions conflict and authoritarian thought control are only one small step away.

Good conversation and dialogue are only possible through active listening and asking questions. Through active listening, we might just gain another insight or a new perspective on a topic that we would otherwise not have become aware of.

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Belief and opinion

If an opinion becomes a belief and part of self-identity the mind will inevitably wall itself off to a different opinion or belief. It will never adapt, change or amend a perspective because such a mindset is ego-driven. You will see every different angle or opinion as a personal threat no matter how good or scientifically based the opposing argument is.

Rational level-headed thought falls prey to toxic emotion, fanatacism, and intolerance.

Civil discourse in the democratically organized community of ancient Greece sowed the seeds of philosophy, science, medicine, and all that we have achieved in successful modern societies. There was a consensus on the parameters on settling differences and dealing with different opinion.

Giving people the freedom to express themselves with their individual unique qualities and giving them an environment where they can freely develop an innovative mindset and utilize their creative abilities to the full is the backbone of every successfull democracy.

In my home country South Africa the lights are literally going out in a collapsing economy and failing infra-structure because a ruling party has for the past decades replaced experienced and competent employees in key state industries and local governments with loyal party hacks or “cadres” who share the same ideology and party loyalty. The result: corruption, maladministration, and nepotism.

Autocratic or authoritarian systems stifle free speech. Those opposing the mainstream are villified, persecuted, and often killed. But on the long-term nothing can suffocate the human spirit and desire for free expression. Autocratic systems inevitably are doomed because nobody has the courage to tell the “emperor” the truth about what is happening on the battlefield or on the street. At some point all that has been suppressed boils over in an uprising or revolution.

The foundation of the democratic state is built on how we communicate with each other

The art of active listening is indeed becoming a rare art. How often have you caught yourself already formulating what you are going to say before the other person has even finished speaking? How often do we interrupt the other person before he or she has finished speaking? (A common trait by the way among marriage partners). How often are you drifting away from a conversation by breaking off eye contact and looking at “important” messages” on your cell phone?

At some educational institutions, it has become acceptable to shout down people expressing opposing viewpoints with so-called “political correctness” stifling healthy debate. On social media, there is little evidence of an exchange of ideas on controversial topics. It often evolves into slamming matches, bullying, and the exchange of personal insults.

On the one hand, we have become more connected than ever in human society but at the same time more disconnected.

Ancient Greece was abuzz with different ideas in energetic debate and conversation. Hundreds of people engaged and listened to different arguments in the marketplace and in the courts. People could cast their vote for what they perceived to be the best argument. In symposia and the theatre, there was a long debate and probing inquiry on fundamental questions of human existence.

Philosophers such as Socrates believed that through dialogue opinions could be tested and held accountable in the search for truth based on a rational mindset. Socratic dialogue is different from a discussion where two or more parties are trying to “win” an argument. Participants are engaged in active listening and effort in trying to understand each other’s different perspectives.

On a spiritual level universal intelligence, or God, has created diversity as a principle of creation. It is no coincidence that dynamic, and diverse cultures have also been most creative in the arts, music, technology, and medical breakthroughs.

But we seem to be at a crossroads where we have the choice of either falling back into stifling autocratic conformity or choosing a free, democratic society abuzz in creative discourse and creativity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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How are you starting your day?

Integrating positive habits into your daily life very much determines the difference between managing your life or letting others take control. Calibrating yourself positively just after getting up in the morning can keep you on a higher energy frequency for most of the day.

We have those days when we wake up with a certain emotion such as melancholy sadness, fear, anger or anxiety, often triggered by a dream. A toxic emotion can also be triggered by reading a news item on your smartphone or watching the news while still half asleep. It then sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Humans are naturally attracted to negativity

It is easy to become subsumed by negativity because it is all around us. Mass media feeds on the notion of humans who are naturally attracted to negative news. It is part of our survival instinct. By heeding the information from a lonely wanderer that he had seen robbers in the woods we were able to avoid danger by taking a different route. Access to certain information could decide between life and death.

Reasserting control

How do you reassert control in an age where we are literally drowning in information while the mind is starving from lack of wisdom?

Calibrating the start of your day with a positive habit such as meditation, prayer, or gratitude ritual makes a huge difference to how your day will be. Think of three positive things for which you can be truly grateful before you go to bed at night and after waking up in the morning. I also like reading a positive quote or spiritual text that can act as an anchor if things start getting a bit overwhelming later in the day.

A body routine such as a few basic yoga, qi gong, or pilates exercise will vastly improve your energy level. I personally like to start with the tree posture aligning with heaven and earth before doing some stretchings and going through my tai chi form – which is an excellent slow-moving meditation.

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Emotional shifting

Emotional shifting is a method whereby you lift yourself from a negative emotional state to a positive emotion. If you are angry the first step is just accepting that you are angry. The next step is then to replace that angry feeling with the opposite feeling which would be love and acceptance.

Think of anything in your life where you have felt that deep fulfilling complete joy of unconditional love. You will immediately feel a different energy. You can also use the tapping method to transmute a negative emotion into a positive emotion.

How about fear and anxiety? The opposite energy is courage, faith, and trust. Focus on conscious breathing, inhaling, and exhaling through the nose. Inhaling I feel that fear and anxiety. Exhaling I have faith and trust.

You can find out more here on my walking, breathing and other online training exercises.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Walking into health and well-being

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Henry David Thoreau

With most of us spending many hours a day glued to screens, going outdoors and taking a walk in nature is one of the easiest most simple ways of maintaining your physical and mental health, according to a growing body of research.

What avid walkers have known all along is being confirmed by science. Walking in the green and blue spaces of nature is healing on multiple levels.

Trees emit airborne chemicals, called phytoncides, used to protect themselves from insects. As we breathe in these phytoncides, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a particular kind of white blood cell, called natural killer (NK) cells.

The term forest bathing or shinrin-yoku became popular in Japan in the 1980s. It is basically immersing or meditating in nature. Against the background of the increasing number of people with subhealth the Japanese researchers found that shinrin-yoku not only brings people with subhealth a healthy lifestyle but also offers complementary therapies to the sick. Subhealth is described as a condition between health and disease.

In the United States researchers monitored the intimate connection of trees to our physical health after the emerald ash borer decimated over a million trees in 15 states between 1990-2007. Less tree cover was linked to over 6,000 deaths from respiratory disease.

Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol weaken the body’s natural defense systems, making it susceptible to cardiovascular and other diseases. By spending time in the green and blue spaces of nature you can reduce those stress hormones in your body significantly.

We can interact directly with nature by opening our senses to the sound of bird song, the aroma of herbs and plants, the rushing waters of a creek, or simply meditating on the beauty of a flower.

The British Psychological Society has studied the benefits of outdoor therapy, especially for care workers. Stabilization, mindfulness, and other sensory exercises like walking while paying attention to the five senses have been found to be particularly beneficial when compared to indoor therapy sessions.

We easily become disconnected from the natural world by spending most of our lives in offices and consuming digital media. This inevitably leads to a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with lack of exercise, a poor diet of processed food and stress the modern lifestyle is exceptionally unhealthy. Average longevity has increased over the years but few people are asking the question about the quality of life. Typical metabolism diseases linked to lifestyle such as diabetes 2, obesity, cardiac disease, cancer, dementia and alzheimer are on the increase in most industrial nations.

How much low-impact exercise do we need per day?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends at least 10,000 steps per day to reach a minimum fitness level. Most people working in office jobs are very far from reaching this target. Typically people working in a Call Center walk less than 1,500 steps per day. Studies conducted by the German Sport University in Cologne found that a low impact exercise programe for adolescents suffering from depression had a significantly positive effect on their mental state and reduced the risk of them suffering from depression later in life.

As the poet, artist and writer Jay Woodman said: “When you truly sing, you sing yourself free. When you truly dance, you dance yourself free. When you walk in the mountains or swim in the sea, again, you set yourself free.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Are you living someone else’s life?

Are you living through a life of a celebrity and forgetting to live your own life? Millions of people around the globe were glued for hours each day to the live coverage of the recent court drama between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

The business model of certain mass media is to elevate normal people like you and me to “God-like status” for the particular field they are successful at and then relish in their fall from grace with every detail of their shortcomings and failings.

The dynamics of the Depp and Amber relationship not only seems to have stirred a dark underside of their respective characters but resonated with something in the shadow of the collective consciousness.

We have the perfect Hollywood couple falling in love. It’s a paradise world where they have everything going for them – youthful beauty, fame, beautiful homes, and travelling to the most exotic places of the world in private jets. Then the curtain falls revealing a world of brutal accusations and counter accusations – a couple literally creating their own version of hell.

External success is no guarantee for happiness

What does that tell us? No matter what status, wealth and fame you have, it is no guarantee for happiness. “Both heaven and hell lie in your own mind. As heaven is your good memories and hell is your bad memories. Whether you want to enter into heaven or hell. It’s not at someone else hands. It’s your own choice,” according to Lord Robin.

Preoccupation with the lives of others is something we observe in village gossip, family drama and on the global stage. You can become so immersed with the life of another that you forget to live your own life. Celebrity worship syndrome (CWS) can become an obsessive addictive disorder. In extreme cases it results in stalking and in relatively mild cases regularly following a certain celebrity on social media.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have linked celebrity worship with higher levels of depression, anxiety and negative stress. Significant relationships were found between attitudes toward celebrities and body image among female adolescents.

We all have the same struggles, fears and anxieties

A big part of the problem is comparing one’s own unhappy and unfulfilled life with that of the celebrity who seemingly has everything that life has to offer. Such comparisons are based on illusion. On the material level certain individuals might live in completely different worlds. But on the consciousness level we are all humans with the same fears, anxieties, and emotional struggles.

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The journey of life is ultimately a journey in growth of consciousness. It is practise of presence and in becoming aware of what the Holy Oneness, the Universe, or God whispers to the soul.

You have been given the power of choice. What you feed your mind with, what programs you watch on television, what books you read and the people you choose to spend most of your time determine who you become. What daily habits you practise have a major outcome on the quality of your life. It is a life with a limited timeline that you won’t want to squander.

As a wise sage once said: “You have all the time in the world and yet you have no time to lose.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Improve your life with this daily habit

What the ancient spiritual teachers and sages knew all along is being confirmed by modern research. Meditation and mindfulness training has a major positive impact on brain health in helping to lower stress hormones and reducing fear and anxiety.

Tragic events in the external world are magnified by mass media which in turn amplifies a general atmosphere of fear and anxiety. We can easily have the feeling that we are losing control. Whole societies and nations can fall into fear and flight mode.

In contrast, a calm mind remains focused, putting events into realistic perspective. It is solution orientated rather than being tugged into all directions by the emotions of fear, hate, and anxiety.

Harvard researcher Gaelle Desbordes has performed functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on persons before and after an eight-week course in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Desbordes’ interest in the topic stems from her personal experience when she began meditating in seeking respite from stress. Her experience convinced her that something real was happening and prompted her to study the subject more closely, in the hope of shedding enough light to underpin therapy that might help others.

Other researchers, including Sara Lazar, in 2012 used MRI to show that the brains of subjects thickened after an eight-week meditation course.

Especially those meditation techniques incorporating breathing, prayer and the humming of mantras measurably reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

I interviewed for my Podcast Kara Goodwin, who has made the transition from the stressful corporate IT world, into becoming a meditation teacher. She says that we cannot hope to find solutions to the problems in the external world if we don’t do the work within at the same time.

You can check out her work and courses at http://www.karagoodwin.com

Buddhist teacher Thich Nath Hanh said: “Meditation is not evasion. It is serene encounter with reality.”

And, according to Amit Ray: “Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.”

Every person obviously has different needs and expectations from practicing meditation. Mostly people starting off with the practice give-up in frustration because their expectations are too high.

We can do the traditional sitting meditation, slow movement meditation in yoga and qi gong or deep walking in nature. However, the big changes don’t come overnight, It’s the small little steps practiced as a daily habit that have the compound effect that brings the change long-term.

Jim Rohn once said: “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

Check out also the following Podcasts on the power of meditation:

Kara Goodwin: Healing the inner and outer world

Cassandra Bodzak: Designing your life with meditation

Breathing into health and wellbeing

Power meditating into your day with this guided meditation

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The absent father and male mental health crisis

The latest mass shooting in the United States by a young male suspect in Buffalo, New York, again throws the spotlight on hate crime, and fanaticism. It is necessary to talk about how children, especially boys, grow up and what needs to be done to give them more emotional, psychological, and spiritual stability.

Criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, found the absence of fathers to be one of the most powerful predictors of crimes. The lack of social bonds and the absence of the “father figure” as a role model for sons, providing structure, authority, and discipline are attributed as some of the key attributes lacking in violent youth.

Researchers Dr. Warren Farrell and John Gray, authors of “The Boy Crisis”, postulate that boys who grow up with an absent father or who don’t have a healthy relationship with their fathers lack a role model for healthy masculinity.

The “purpose void” and ultramasculine role models

Boys’ old senses of purpose, being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner, are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void”, feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification. Compounding this issue are addicting video games that lead to distraction and ADHD, according to Farrell and Gray.

As boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women! Girls seem to outperform boys at every level from education to job performance.

In some cases, these boys then seek ultramasculine role models, feeling empowered by arming themselves with weapons and joining almost exclusively male extremist groups.

These young men appear to be especially drawn to demagogic macho role models offering simple solutions to their own feelings of inadequacy and discontent. Religious minorities, immigrants, or different race groups are targeted. An idealized, orderly state of the past is recalled. A dystopian future lies waiting, ruled by a “fatherly” figurehead in a reborn patriarchy.

How do we confront this poisoning of the mind?

It has to be said that many single mothers bravely and with much personal sacrifice manage to raise healthy, successful, and caring sons. But we do need to look at why most violent crime is committed by men. In the United States, more than nine times as many men (5,037,000) as women (581,000) had ever at one time been incarcerated in a prison. Men also experienced higher victimization rates than females for all types of violent crime.

It takes a village …

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, highlights the role of family and community in shaping the life of a child. A Swahili proverb takes a similar vein:  “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.”

It has always been one of the most challenging tasks to raise a child. It is why in traditional African culture this was always seen as a communal responsibility. In our modern cultures the single mother is left without a support structure, having to deal with the double burden of raising a child and earning a living. Apart from the Nordic and some European nations little to no support is provided by the state in terms of pre-school child care and education. Governments fail to realize that the long-term social costs are much higher than providing adequate child support in the first place.

Stress resilience and mental health are built in those strong communities where children are not only bonded to the primary family but to an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close friends. It’s where children learn social skills and values from role models who find sense of purpose in serving something greater than short-term self-gratification.

Photo by Keith Wako on Pexels.com

Individual needs versus social and community needs

Our culture has lost its way in over-emphasizing individual needs over the needs of the community and society at large. It’s part of the spiritual disconnect where pseudo-religious groups are replacing institutional religion in the form of extremist political tribes.

From the perspective of the tribal bubble, anyone who looks, believes, and dresses differently is perceived as a threat. Dehumanizing all those who are different is a hallmark of all extremist, religious, and nationalist groupings. The threshold to taking a gun and shooting those who are different becomes very thin, because empathy is felt only to members of one’s own tribe.

Where there is a spiritual connection there is an understanding of purpose. Love is experienced as unconditional and the basis of all life. God is life and God finds expression in nature.

Nobel peace prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying: “Instead of separation and division, all distinctions make for a rich diversity to be celebrated for the sake of the unity that underlies them. We are different so that we can know our need of one another.”

God’s garden has never been homogeneous stagnation. It is one of beauty inhabited by diverse species, cultures, colors, religions, and beliefs in constant interaction, and interdependence with each other. We define and grow our values, heritage, and culture in a dynamic exchange between opposites. You just need to study nature in order to understand your higher calling.

Experiential spirituality is learning to understand the deeper meaning of self and how your life and purpose is inextricably intertwined with that of the larger whole. True happiness and contentment is found within, undestanding who you are, and emanating that core authenticity outwardly in kindness, love and tolerance.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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