You’re Not Alone…

At Chase Wilson Education we’re always dealing with the deepest tragedies and most threatening issues modern students face.  But to me, nothing is more heartbreaking than to hear or read a story about a young life lost to suicide.  With the work we’re currently doing, there is no topic or issue  more relevant or compelling to me and why I am thoroughly inspired and driven to move our mission forward.

Much of the national spotlight fell onto this issue after the tragic death of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi last September.  Clementi decided to take his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate spread webcam footage all over the internet of Clementi making out with another boy.   No matter what “buzz word” you use, whether it be cyber bullying, sexting, or teen suicide — this IS the incident that seems to come to mind for most people.  But Clementi wasn’t the first to take his life under these types of circumstances, and most unfortunately he won’t be the last.  With his story, and others much like his — whether it be Ryan Patrick Halligan or Megan Meier, we are forced to ask WHY?

I’m not an expert in the field of psychology, I’m not a counselor…I’m just a storyteller.  But thanks to the work we do, and the educators, counselors, and experts I’ve had the great fortune to work and develop programs with I’ve learned a great deal about why we do the things we do, and thus how to prevent them from happening.

I’m also human, and that means that I can relate…I can more than sympathize — I can empathize.  I’ve been down, I’ve felt worthless and wrong — hopeless and lost.  As you’re reading this maybe you can feel those words resonating with you, maybe you feel that way right now or you remember a time in your own life when you felt that way.  If you haven’t, you will someday — we all do, I promise.  It’s a part of life and it’s a reminder of what it is to be alive.  I often reference Paulo Coelho not only on this blog but in my day-to-day interactions with people.  He has a wonderful quote that fills me with inspiration every time I read it, and I’m reminded of it now…

“The key to life is falling down seven times and getting up eight.”

Easier said than done, especially when you’re “in it.”  We are all students in this life and experience is our greatest teacher.  The mentors and teachers that have taught me the most about how to live life to its fullest and deal with all its greatest challenges have shared some of these lessons…

  • Life is What We Make of it.  Our happiness in this life isn’t dependent on anything or anyone outside of ourselves. You can’t always be in control of the circumstances of life, you can’t control what others say or do to you…but what is always under your control is how you choose to perceive and deal with them.  We are the sole creator and destroyer of our happiness.  It isn’t easy and it takes courage — it’s also your responsibility…no one else’s. 
  • You’re Telling Your Own Story.  Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re a storyteller.  You don’t have to do it with words or images…you do it with life.  Joseph Campbell believed that when we reflect deeply upon our own life that we can see a certain theme or thread running through it, as though an imaginary artist was writing our life as though it were a novel.  No matter who you are and what you do — your life matters.  It will have an impact on the world and on the people you come into contact with.  Once you recognize this a beautiful thing happens — you get to choose the story you want to tell, as it unfolds.  You don’t like it? Then re-write it…it’s yours.
  • Life isn’t the gift.  You Are.  Life isn’t unique, it’s ordinary, random and chaotic.  It springs up and gets snuffed out all around you all day every day of your life.  But as humans we’ve been given the privilege of consciousness — the ability to not only actively participate in the living of life but simultaneously reflect upon it and imagine what it can be in a future that doesn’t exist yet.  You’re here for a reason, you have a role to play — and no matter who you are you get to choose what you want it to be.  If it isn’t what you want it to be right now…you can change it, despite what other people tell you or what you “think.”
  • It Will Get Better.  When we feel pain we’re in such a rush to make it go away that we ACT, often violently, irresponsibly, and blindly just to make it go away.  We also get frustrated with ourselves when none of these actions “fix” the problem, the thoughts or feelings we’re having.  It feels hopeless, desolate, and empty.   We’re told at a very early age and reminded constantly that “Life is Short.”   I used to believe this, and it made me feel like I was always rushing to arrive at various goals I was setting for myself, each one being significantly greater than the last.  It’s self-destructive to think this way, especially when you’re in a downturn.  When confronted with these feelings of helplessness and pain try to slow time down.  Remind yourself that things weren’t always like this, that there was a time that things were better.  This is a reminder that they will be again.  Much like happiness, time is also under your control.  Give it to yourself.   Many of the most inspiring stories are shared by people that have faced and gotten past great adversity.  When they talk about that time in their lives, they always look back to those days, weeks, months, or years from a distance and are amazed at how much they learned about themselves – the strength they didn’t know they had, and how that experienced helped them grow.  Imagine a future years from now, where you’re telling someone about THIS time in your life and how you overcame it.
  • Understand the Source.  This is especially important for bullying-related situations.  People lash out, use aggression and anger, create jealousy, tension, and fear because THEY are unhappy with themselves.  It is a weak individual that feels pain and wants others around them to feel the same.  It is a strong individual that recognizes this anger/aggression/hate as weakness and doesn’t allow themselves to be affected by it.
  • You’re Not Alone.  None of us are, and the very idea that we are separate from each other is a great illusion.  There are people all around you right now that care about you and will support you.  When you’re at your lowest, imagine them, see their faces, hear their voices.   Lean on them when you need to, and remember again, that life is long and you will someday be given the opportunity to repay the favor — if not for that person in particular, than for someone else in need.  Your desperate time will remind you to empathize with someone in a similar situation down the road.   If you feel you have no one, use the internet to seek help or find a counselor /  therapist.   There are web sites and hotlines dedicated to helping people in their greatest time of need.  You’re never all alone.
  • Honor Others. Those people that are there to help you are honoring you with their time, their devotion, wisdom, and compassion.  It’s important to honor their support, make them understand your gratitude and appreciation, let them know how much it matters to you that they care about you.  These honest and unconditional feelings literally change the energy within and around you.  In time, this energy will replenish your strength.
  • Keep Your Head Up.  During a particularly down-point I had last year one of my closest friends provided these four simple words.  It’s great advice and in a moment made me think not about the current problems of life, but of the type of person I always admired and aspired to be…confident, proud, full of determination, optimism, and perseverance.   I’d like to think I’m unique in finding these personality traits attractive — but I’m not.  In one way or another, we are all drawn to stories of survival, of courage, of redemption — they inspire us and give us hope to move forward — to be strong for ourselves and for others.  They remind us how to lead and how to love.

Anti-bullying education, teen suicide awareness and prevention, and strengthening emotional coping skills are just three of the many topics we are most passionate about at CWE.  If you haven’t already…please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and Join Our Mission:

http://www.cweducation.com

http://www.facebook.com/cweducation

http://www.twitter.com/cweducation

~ by Dan Fabrizio on July 14, 2011.

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