|By: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.|
I have counseled individuals, couples, families and business partners for the past 35 years and authored eight published books. All this experience has resulted in the development of a profound six-step healing process, called Inner Bonding, which anyone can learn and use throughout the day (FREE course available - see resource box).
The violence in Littleton, Colorado sparked many discussions regarding the cause of such horrifying behavior on the part of two teenage boys. I would like to address this in terms on Inner Bonding.
In my experience, it is not possible for us as human beings to be violent when we are connected to our true, core Self and to a source of spiritual guidance. When we do the work we need to do to develop a spiritually connected loving adult self, we have an inner adult who places limits on our behavior regarding harming ourselves and others.
However, it is very common in our society for people to lose touch with their true, core Self. Since our core Self holds our intrinsic feelings of compassion and empathy for others, losing touch with this aspect of ourselves may cause us to be able to harm others without feeling any pain or remorse over it. The question is, then, how do we lose our connection with our core Selves?
Many child development experts state that those people who disconnect from their empathy and compassion, generally do so between the ages of two and four. If our parents lacked empathy and compassion for our feelings and needs, we might have chosen to be caretakers and take care of their needs, or we might have chosen to become like them and not care about others' feelings and needs. We may have had no role modeling for maintaining our own inner connection. If our parents shut themselves down to our pain and their own, we may have learned to shut down to our own and others vulnerable feelings. If, in addition, we were physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally abused or neglected, we may have shut down to survive.
Some children, whose parents were shut down or abusive, manage to stay connected with their core Selves through contact with animals such as dogs or horses, while others stay connected through contact with relatives or friends with whom they identify. But many young children just disconnect to survive. When in this disconnected state, if they watch violence on TV or practice violence through video games, they may further train themselves to numb out against compassion, empathy, and the pain of harming others.
Likewise, if children grow up with no personal connection with a source of spiritual guidance, they may not know that we are all one, and they may not consider the possibility that the consequences of their actions may follow them into their lives after death.
Without connection with their core Self and their spiritual guidance, they are left with only their wounded selves. If they happen to be operating from an enraged wounded self, this self can certainly act out in angry and violent ways. With no loving inner Adult to set limits, the harm to themselves or others can be disastrous, as we have seen.
While limiting guns is certainly a good thing to do, it will not stop the violence. This violence will not stop until we no longer need to learn, as very young children, to barricade our hearts. As parents and teachers we need to be practicing a healing process such as Inner Bonding so that we can reclaim our core Selves and our deep connection with God. Only by doing our own inner work will we be able to be the loving role models that our children need. The change in our society must come from within each of us.