There are undeniable truths about our life, which we often deny or try to overlook. In fairness, however, truth is always truth. Thoughts are only thoughts. Feelings are only feelings and fears are only fears.
Long ago, it was said to me that perception is not truth. Perception is only true to the one that perceives it is true. To which I say the truth is if someone believes an idea of thought, wholeheartedly and repeatedly, then this becomes their truth.
The truth is we go through phases. We pass through different levels of awareness and understanding. We graduate from old beliefs to new beliefs and connect experience to emotions that result as the end products of our packaged memories. Eventually, they assemble into a structure of assumptions, opinions and beliefs and personal programs. We become patterns of behavior. We pick up on words and triggers that lead to assumptions or biased, preconceived notions.
As a coach and as a mental health advocate, I have been asked about my experience with teens. I have been asked where I see the struggles begin. To respond, I take this to its simplest form and basic nature. There are ideas and thoughts, preferences, taste and choices that come naturally. However, there is also a social order. There are the basic social norms and popular choices, which can differ from an individual’s natural selection.
Next, there are desires; there is the uncertainty of personal identity and the designation of gender, plus the internal struggles with gender fluidity. There are questions of sexuality, sexual ambiguity, identity and the pressures of being the right model; to be formed to not only match a socially acceptable body type and style, there is also a need to fit or conform to a commercially acceptable person.
There is the need to fit and belong. There is the need to be understood, to be “right” and the need to be grounded, accepted, wanted, valued, and of course, included. More and more, as we learn about our taught biases that teach us about our personal and physical defects, we look to honor the biggest need of all: safety.
These needs are not limited to young life. However, these needs contribute to the end products of our experience as well as our emotions, which become the lessons we use that package us as people. There are labels and definitions that are based on stereotypes and stigmas which, in fairness, can be crippling because no one wants to be picked last or picked on, or worse, no one wants to not be noticed or picked at all; to be unloved, invisible or unnoticed. To see us as flawed is a threat of personal safety.
We form ourselves based on the surrounding ideas and feelings that come from the added lessons. We form our behaviors, identity, our ways of response or preemptive strikes. We create our patterns that jump to conclusions, and through the records of our history; this is where we base our so-called truths. This is because the experience is personal. “This is what happened!” and thus, the data becomes hardwired and downloaded as truth.
This program is also influential to our behavior.
In many cases, we might wonder “Why do things like this always happen to me?” and yet, we never see how our subconscious and the embossed ideas lead us to situations, people, places and things. We never realized we’ve painted ourselves into a corner, subconsciously to prove our own theories.
What have I seen as the most common struggle in youth? The truth of the matter is as a sober and recovery coach, the one thing I have connected to in youth is the same thing I connected to with adults and my older clients, as well as myself.
Our identity is everything. Who we are, or wait; more to the point, who we think we are is everything.
I break this down as our personal trinity.
We are mind, body and soul. We are thoughts, feelings and behavior. We are experience, interpretation and opinion. The number of personal trinities can be seen differently to the individuals; however, aside from DNA, and aside from our undeniable right to individual uniqueness; we are all formed in this way. We all have our personal trinities that can range from intention, motivation, action, to ideas, thoughts and projection. Once we break down our patterns of thinking, we can step closer to understand the motivations behind our behaviors, beliefs and responses.
I bring this back to the initial ideas of personal and interpersonal conflicts. We have been raised by ideas and programmed routines. We have been taught about the disposition of normalcy and socially acceptable orders that exist, regardless of our ideas, thoughts or natural tendencies.
What is beauty? What is beautiful?
What are the most commercialized traits of the body?
What do we learn from kindergarten up about the natural process of selection?
When did we experience our first episode of rejection?
Where do we learn what manhood is or womanhood means?
The question also becomes why have these standards been socially decided instead of adapted to our personal choice?
We all fit into molds, descriptions, definitions and personal traits. Imagine, however, if instead of being compartmentalized as people that are distinguished by a learned characterization, how would this change our perspective and internalization of freedom if we simply allowed us to be as amazing and perfectly incredible as we are?
So what is my experience?
My experience is this: we all have thoughts, ideas, needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and desires. We are free to have our own preferences. We are free to like what we like, enjoy the styles we prefer and rather than search for the socially acceptable norm in order to achieve the best level of personal satisfaction, the best direction is to create a sense of personal acceptance.
The common denominator that I have seen is personal destruction, self-harm and self-destructive behavior that paints us in corners are subconscious beliefs, which lead us to respond to overreacting, irrational fears.
What have I seen as a commonality with kids in trouble?
The need for identity that preserves safety.
What have I seen as a commonality with adults?
The same thing.
The mind only wants peace.
The mind seeks comfort the same as water seeks its own level. This is unavoidable. Unless beliefs can be changed and unless the connections of our personal trinities can be reprogrammed into new forms of understanding, the ideas of change are impossible.
We have to update our personal data with new experience to comfortably disprove the “unsafe” safety of old hardwired rituals and habitual routines.
Keys to growth and personal change are:
- Personal acceptance
- Personal tolerance
- Personal understanding
We need knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Once we accept who we are, then we can stop orchestrating the ideas of our image that we’ve created as an identity to defend us. Then the wars can stop. Then we can tolerate our differences and change self-destructive or personally abusive patterns. And by doing so, we understand that we have the right to be as we are, to be as perfect as we are, as loving as we are and more than anything, as beautiful as we are.
On a personal note:
Don’t be afraid of who you are, son.
The bravest thing you can ever be is yourself.
And if you ask me, I think who you are is incredible.