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Mindfulness In Schools

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posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 12:56 AM
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I find it crazy that we so often talk and debate about the reasons for bullying. We start campaigns to promote compassion in children, increase awareness in adults, and we even go so far as to arrest the child offender, or, as some zealots in Florida have decided, to pass a bill to charge the parents of kids who bully at school.

Is this really the way we should go about dealing with bullying? My answer: Absolutely, unequivocally, no.

It seems almost naive that I have to even mention this. Sites already exist mindfulnessinschools.org, to change the way the system works. Why hasn't this happened? Why do we waste our time flirting with wasteful ideas, while the only worthwhile idea - mindfulness - goes unheeded.

Let me tell you why mindfulness is THE ONLY way to combat bullying.

When one kid bullies another kid, why does this happen? It happens because the other kid doesn't feel any need to not bully him. Why do bystanders stand by? Because they do not feel deeply enough a need to stop it. The issue then is feeling. The child who bullies bullies because he doesn't recognize the feelings he's causing in the bullied. The onlookers, although they might have a sense of what it's like to be bullied, are either distracted by social pressures or don't have a strong enough feeling telling them to support the victim and criticize the bully.

Somatic mindfulness - a process called interoception by psychologists - involves meditating, or becoming aware, of body sensations. This is a different type of awareness from thinking. Thinking is "representational". It takes us out of a direct feeling sense, and into an "intellectual" sense. Thinking is a type of mental activity; as are the feeling of emotions, images, concepts, memories, beliefs, attitudes, moods, intentions, hopes, dreams.

Why is this important? The brain couples body sensations with emotions. body sensations are felt "within" the body i.e. within muscles, internal organs, etc, while emotions are "felt" within the stomach and chest region. By increasing awareness of the body, a child will experience a greater awareness of his own emotional experience. This increased awareness of emotional experience will bias brain networks to pay attention to the emotional experiences of others.

What could be more discomforting than seeing another kid get bullied? To just look at his face and to see his body language would instantly produce feelings of compassion for his suffering. A child who has been made aware of his own experience, will suddenly feel a greater awareness of the experience of the kid getting bullied.

So please, help me motivate our culture to implement these types of practices in our schools! Learning is more than left-brain dominant reading, writing and arithmetic. Learning also requires knowing how to be a good human being. Mindfulness can help develop the right brain dominant emotional networks which take in body-viscera information and integrates it with the orbitofrontal regions - where awareness lies.

I have started a peitition to get things going in my home province of Ontario. You guys could start your own wherever you live. How much longer do we have to wait before this logical and necessary practice gets introduced in schools? How many more kids should die from suicide? Or suffer the scars or relational trauma?

www.change.org...




posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 01:12 AM
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perhaps I'm not feeling well myself today. but reading your (inspiring and insightful) post has made me realize just how jaded I have become.

I am so sorry. but there is nothing here left defending.

when does the bullying end? in rivers of blood and war.


.....ummmm. on the other hand, happy Christmas?



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 01:15 AM
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When i first practised mindfulness it wss like finally knowing how to think, and i questioned WHY is this not taught in schools as it is just fundamentally basic logically sound stuff. Literally we are like clueless zombies banging around in life the way we live.

It amazes me we can manage to open doors.

A change like that at the start could only see benefits including that which you state. And it goes far beyond that.

Too many people hear hippy bs however. And continue to live in anywhere but now.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 01:53 AM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


I think fear is the overriding emotion involved here. Other kids don't want to get involved lest they be the ones who get bullied. I also think the bully knows exactly what he is doing. He is gaining strength by being able to dominate others. He intentionally distills fear in the ones he is bullying. Bullies gain strength through others weaknesses. If the bully didn't know how the kids felt they wouldn't derive the pleasure out of being a bully.

Bullies simply need to be made to fear as well...they don't stop because of empathy of the fear they caused others, but due to the fear they feel themselves.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:32 AM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


I practice the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Metta (Cultivation of Loving-Kindness) Meditation, I have found these extremely useful at changing your attitude to the world. I found myself being nicer to other, more active & less passive, my confidence shot up, I found it an all round good practice and it shocked me how quickly it helped turn my life around.

I think the Mindfulness is important in all aspects of society, not just bullying. With the dramatic rise in mental issues across the world I think it is more important than ever. Bullying in school is a good place to start though, if you can convince kids to be more Mindful, then our future may be a little brighter!

I applaud your efforts, it is something I wish to do in my own community in the future. Keep up your good work.
edit on 20-12-2013 by iRoyalty because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 07:00 AM
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I was referred an 8 week course in mindful based stress reduction (MBSR) by my hospital last year. I have to say its been one of the most important things I have ever been introduced to in my life.

When I was referred, I didn't expect it to be a course in meditation and yoga. I was kind of hoping for a quick fix in pill form. I was extremely skeptical as I've always turned my nose up at that kind of thing. Viewing those doing meditation as a little pious and self righteous. "Oo look at me, I can meditate and do yoga" kind of people.

It has helped in so many ways. One of the most important and noticeable things was how quickly I became less reactive to things that would usually annoy me. If this could work with kids then it may have an effect on potential bullies. To be less reactive and think more before they act.

So mindfulness in schools is in my opinion a great idea. I'm sure it will face resistance from those concerned about its religious origins, but I hope people can put those prejudices to the side if benefits are proven.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 08:40 AM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


The bullies are not in touch with their feelings. The last thing a bully wants is to feel. The bully has had his feeling switched off for a good reason - to save the life of the organism.
The child who is a bully comes from a house of terror - he is usually an unloved, unrespected and neglected individual so he has to get his power, his worth somewhere, somehow. He has not chosen his home environment and he does not choose his behaviour.
If you made him get in touch with his feelings but did not provide a safe environment, that is, remove him from the environment that made the body armour happen in the first place then it would be detrimental. It would be almost impossible to 'cure' the bully if he was not removed from the environment that made it.

After one has left the environment that one grew in, it is hard to remove the conditioning - the body armour as well as the running to mind and thoughts to get one 'away' from the actual environment - one has learned to 'escape' reality by going into a fantasy world.

It would be great if no armour was ever required but that would be a boring game.
edit on 20-12-2013 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 11:41 AM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 


You made a good point. Also a bad point, which I disagree with.

The bully probably does come from a tattered home, and his "armor", as you put it, is to not pay attention to the emotions which are happening within him: its his survival tactic. It's his way of dealing with the environment he interacts with.

However, I don't think it's somehow "good" to promote "armor" in our lives, as if we aren't all interconnected with one another. I've been studying the science of human relationships over the last year. There's not a single mind which is not affected by the minds of others. There's not a single brain that doesn't become affected by the brains of others. This leads to the conclusion that: we are embodied - minds within bodies, and we are relational: minds within interpersonal relationships. Just as we need to bring "integration" within ourselves to bring healing, so to do we need to bring integration between each other, i.e., we need to be kind, compassionate and helpful with one another. Both the body - in it's autonomic/limbic processes - and relationships - in its complex dynamics - regulate minds. We need to pay attention to this fact if we want to help people live happy and balanced lives.

Also, by teaching mindfulness in schools, you change the general collective "tone". A bully who becomes aware of his emotions, becomes aware of his problems. This may have the effect of alerting teachers to the underlying problem motivating him to bully; aggression in his home, etc. Also, when other kids increase their awareness, the act of bullying has less of an "unconscious" environment to work in.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 12:12 PM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


I agree that it is good to become aware of how one ticks.
I don't mean to promote 'body armour' - it is good if one can be aware that one is wearing it or others could be.

When we are born we are soft but growing up makes us harden.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 09:51 PM
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I went to a Catholic school for like 5 years and there was zero tolerance for bullying. If you so much as spoke badly about another person, the entire class got lectured. We were taught early on both at home and at school to have compassion and respect for others. It worked wonders. If a child had problems at home, they could speak privately with a teacher.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:13 PM
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reply to post by Night Star
 


I wish I went to that school

I went to Catholic Schools my whole life. I experienced bullying so severe in grade 8, that till this day I deal with the post traumatic stress effects of the bullying. Because the bullying recurred in grade 10, and 11, it took me awhile to process the repressed information (trauma causes dissociation, i.e. a turning away from emotional, and so, social experiences, so as to preserve sanity)

Why else do you think I am so passionate about this?

I remember sitting in grade 11 English class - by this time, my confidence and self esteem was lagging, but I didn't deal with bullying of any kind at this point - and I remember feeling traumatized at JUST THE SIGHT of seeing another kid in my class, Kyle, being horrendously bullied by the fat kid in the back. Why was the sight so bad? It wasn't so much the act that bothered me, but in what it caused in Kyle; he was so stressed; his prosody lacked all bass, and you could hear it in his voice. This kid was suffering from intense post traumatic stress; and did the fat # in the back care? Did the teacher do anything drastic to end this bullying?

Having experienced bullying myself, the sight of it just made me nauseous. Till this day, I wonder to myself, what has happened to that kid? I hope he is ok. I hope he's received treatment and has come to process those difficult emotions. But, alas, developmental trauma is an extremely difficult thing to get a handle of. Bullying can induce a state of "toxic shame" - which essentially means the individual can no longer give expression to his/her emotions without feeling shame, without feeling like he should feel embarrassed.

Imagine this were you. Imagine you experienced these sorts of emotions day in and day out. A constant feeling of shame from constantly being humiliated in front of others by the bully. And to make matters truly worse, his underlying stress was never addressed. I take it, by grade 11, he had endured years of bullying, so much so that it had become organically "built" into his personality. He would speak and defend himself, but in his voice you could hear anxiety, you could tension and stress.

What kind of society allows these things to happen? Its akin to mutilating someones body. But in this case, it's the personality and its development thats being mutilated, deformed, and eventually "distilled" in a form that leaves the individual chronically dissociated from himself.

When I say that I was "traumatized" by the sight of it, it is not the same type of visceral, i.e. autonomic and limbic affective trauma that we mean when we speak of PTSD. This is a more subtle trauma. It is a cognitive trauma that "disturbs" your mind, so as to cause you to avoid certain behaviors that would possibly incite bullying against yourself i.e speaking out.

Many kids are actually 'cognitively traumatized' in this way. The sight of bullying so petrifies them that they are prone to engage in it themselves, rather than make themselves visible by protesting against it.

That said, increased awareness of sensory and motor functions, emotions and thoughts, when practiced from a young age, will pretty much inoculate children from bullying one another. They are far too aware of each others emotional states - and what bullying will induce - to tolerate it.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:20 PM
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I don't believe in any of this new age stuff, what we have here is parents that teach their kids to hate. You can blame poor parenting, or all kinds of other things, long story short, ignorant parents are teaching their ignorant kids this behavior. Rise up from the ignorance.



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:43 PM
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reply to post by BubbaJoe
 


There is nothing "new age" about being mindful.

You know what mindful means? Become aware of yourself. Become aware of your hand - how does it feel? Become aware of any particular thought that enters your mind.

This part of your self that can "become aware" on command, is what we mean when we say "mindfulness".

Since this is all backed up by neuroscience, it is not "new age" but a scientific way to go about developing right brain functioning, which just so happens to have so many social benefits.

The prefrontal lobe - the part of your brain that is in the front of your head - carries out executive cognitive functions, such as thinking, reasoning and paying attention. In the orbitofrontal region, in particular, is where mindfulness occurs. This is the part of the brain that "gathers" up information so it can be "attended to" by the conscious mind. So, when you develop mindfulness in growing children, what you're essentially doing is strengthening neural connections between this part of the brain and other parts, such as subcortical limbic routes, autonomic pathways that convey information from the body, as well as sensory information from the environment around us.



posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 10:40 PM
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I believe that something indeed needs to change. It begins at home with raising a compassionate and loving child and should continue from the childs very fist year at school and on to other grades. Bullying should not be tolerated in any form for any reason.

I truly appreciate my earlier days of schooling and the kids I was with. Once I got to public school, I was shocked by the behavior of some of the kids there and how not enough was done to stop it, if anything at all. There is no excuse for any school to look the other way and not get directly involved.



posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 10:43 PM
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My parents had a better idea about dealing with a bully after of 6 months boxing classes I belted the living stuffing out of him and he and his pack disappeared sociopaths only understand superior force contemplating their navel won't change a bully.



posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 03:17 AM
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Not to go off topic, but to approach this from a different angle: I've watched a number of crime documentaries lately and the YouTube comment which most frequents those about serial killers and school shootings is: "How could anyone do such a thing?" People forget the Harry Harlow experiments. He used monkeys to demonstrate the anti-social (paranoid and psychotic) behavior which came from those who were not allowed normal, healthy social contact while growing. Many serial killers suffered much social isolation and reticule. Likewise, so did kids responsible for school shootings. The worst monsters are the ones made by monsters, but the point is, a lack of human connection and understanding breeds apathy.

Kids should be connected emotionally, all of them, far more than they are separated. Instead of rows or clusters of seats, imagine everyone in a circle, facing each other and discussing social issues: everything from loneliness to bullying, date rape, peer pressure, everything. Imagine how healthy that would be to share and vent, listen and learn. I think that would be revolutionary for a class.

It should also be mentioned that before the last 150 years, kids of the same age were not put together in classes. Kids always learned from those older than them. They naturally look up to older kids and adults. But these days, they are stuck with kids at their own stage of growth and learn to keep doing that. I believe this creates a Lord of the Flies scenario where it's 'dog eat dog,' because what else can kids of the same age learn from each other, except who is louder or acts more confident? If this teaches them anything, it's how to lie and manipulate. It also teaches them ugly politics; stepping on toes, betraying friends and even joining in cruel behavior to 'fit in.'

It's my firm belief that the basic design of the education system is wrong and needs to be completely re-imagined, but I don't want to go off-topic from bullying. I personally do not believe that kids hurt other kids because they don't realize that it hurts. I believe they do it precisely because they know that it does; for that feeling of power and superiority. Kids are essentially allowed to be savages, before leaving school and entering the adult world, at which time they are forced to smile, wear a tie and act civilized. They are conditioned to act 'proper,' at the same time often acting just as two-faced and vindictive as they always did. So much of people's behavior, good or bad, is simply learned from their surroundings. As Oscar Wilde observed, most people do not think independently or and don't have many profound revelations in life, sadly.

Good and evil is guarded by a thin veil. Many people are capable of either. Kids need to learn that they all share problems, whether they be similar or different, and are all struggling. This would create an emotional unity, and division would naturally wane. Getting things out in the open, no matter how uncomfortable or controversial, is necessary for any real catharsis between peers.


edit on 22-12-2013 by LoneCloudHopper2 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 04:03 PM
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reply to post by Night Star
 




I believe that something indeed needs to change. It begins at home with raising a compassionate and loving child and should continue from the child's very fist year at school and on to other grades. Bullying should not be tolerated in any form for any reason.


There's a basic problem with that approach. The way parents raise their children is often the result of how they were raised. We often forget that adults retain the basic emotional memories from their childhood and adolescence. If they dealt with a lot of aggression from their own parents, they are apt to do it to their own children. It's a vicious cycle that takes mindfulness to get out of.

We can do this by increasing awareness in the media, but this is insufficient as a way to create significant change.

Right now, In parts of California (LA, San Francisco), parts of British Columbia, and parts of Vermont, there are school districts which have implemented mindfulness practices. The basic idea is to help promote "right brain" development, in addition to what school already helps develop - left brain functions like reading, writing and arithmetic.

Here's what the kids have to say about it.

Elizabeth's testimonial - 10 years old



I like Mindfullness because it’s a part in the day that let’s you move to a different world with different thought and answers. Minfullness helps me at school when I’m stressing over work, I can just take a breath and relax. Mindfullness helps me with my friends if they anoy me I can take the good and the bad. Mindfulllnes helps me with work when it gets to hard I can think of the good other than the bad.

Nora's testimonial - 10 years old



For mindfulness to really work everybody needs to partisipate. Many people don’t understand mindfulness so they don’t even try. Many people just think of mindfulness as a talking computer and don’t explore mindfulness and see how mindfulness can help unite a whole community. Mindfulness helps me a lot of the time at school to welcome distractions and when I am frustrated to relax. For example, Just a few days ago I was doing a math test and I used a mindful tequneque and I was able to finnish my test fealing pretty good about myself. Mindfulness helps me but you need to partisipate in mindfulness to make it work.

Charlies testimonial - 10 years old



Mindfullness is a program with many skills and techniques. I enjoy Mindfullness a lot. I enjoy Mindfullness because it relaxes me and gets me ready for my day. Mindfulllness helps me in school by helping me focus. This also helps my teachers teach me better and more easily. Mindfullness helps me with my friends because it talks about caring for others and when I do care for others I am a better friend. Mindfullness helps me get my work done because I focus more on my work and not other things. Mindfullness is very helpful and I enjoy it.

Imagine what our world would look like after 2 or 3 generations of kids being developed - and having their brains hardwired - in such a way. You will see massive drops in mental illness in adults - as much of our mental problems stem from inter-relational difficulties.

When people simply realize that we are beings which are "molded" by early life experiences, when we as a society become aware of this, we can take advantage of this knowledge to help create individuals with a greater capacity to process stress, anxiety, shame, and other negative emotions.

Hopefully, we'll see great changes within my lifetime.



posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 04:54 PM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


A. I wouldn't trust the current education system to manipulate kids in a positive way, not without serious changes to the whole attitude in which the system is built. B. Those kids' responses do not sound sincere to me. They sound like carefully written and edited 'correct responses' by 'A Students' (teachers' pets) to promote it.

I am unfamiliar with the program you are referring to, but it's nice to see a step taken in the right direction. However, how do you teach right-side thinking? You can't. You can encourage it, but the whole point of right-side thinking is to be left alone tot think, daydream and come up with your own ideas. The only way I can see this working in school is to allow kids to spend an hour or two each day working on original projects (whatever they feel like, with few if any outlines) to present to the class. Otherwise, maybe a philosophy class where thoughts and ideas can be explored.



posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 09:02 PM
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reply to post by LoneCloudHopper2
 




Kids should be connected emotionally, all of them, far more than they are separated. Instead of rows or clusters of seats, imagine everyone in a circle, facing each other and discussing social issues: everything from loneliness to bullying, date rape, peer pressure, everything. Imagine how healthy that would be to share and vent, listen and learn. I think that would be revolutionary for a class.


No doubt, that would be a good practice. But this is somewhat "peripheral" to the direct effects that mindfulness practices would have in shaping neurological development. I would think a practice such as this, although useful, would more relevant to older children.

I've stated elsewhere - I'm not sure if it was in this thread - that the brain completes 5/6th of it's development by 2 years of age. After 2, the brain has 3 times the synapses that an adult brain has. The following period of brain development is thus a period of whats been called "synaptic natural selection", where Hobbs principle - neurons that fire together, wire together - determines which synapses are preserved and cultivated and which ones are pruned.

So, in these early years of life, we need to target development of brain areas crucial for social skills.



It also teaches them ugly politics; stepping on toes, betraying friends and even joining in cruel behavior to 'fit in.'


It's hard to really pin-point the exact causes, but I'm sure there are phenomena that emerge from group dynamics (what you've pointed out) that aren't necessarily present in specific individuals (what this thread has emphasized).

Recent neuroscience is really giving us ample knowledge to help us develop skills and abilities in children that till now have been left "to the playground". Again, I need to emphasize the centrality of the body: we derive our sense of self from our bodies, from proprioception, interoception. Emotional and cognitive functions are representations that literally extend from basic body sensations. These processes are so unconscious, occur beneath our awareness, that we don't notice how the myriad interactions between cognitions, emotions and body sensations actually prime one another.

Its therefore incredibly important that we get kids to become aware of body sensations so as to promote a deeper awareness of their own emotions, and the emotions of other children.



I personally do not believe that kids hurt other kids because they don't realize that it hurts. I believe they do it precisely because they know that it does; for that feeling of power and superiority


I completely disagree. On a superficial level, undoubtedly, children are aware of the pain they cause each other. Key word being: superficial. It's a shallow awareness. Enough for them to know that doing this will have this effect - and that gives them pleasure. This, after all is the raison d'etre of bullying. But when you change the intensity of an awareness, when what fills your attention isn't the joy of hurting another, but an acute perception of the pain being caused, then your behavior changes.

The idea of mindfulness practices is to heighten awareness of INTERNAL sensations, as opposed to external sensations. A kid whose attention is usually focused "outward" i.e. in the 5 senses, will have a correspondingly weaker perception of internal experience, of body sensations, and emotions.

Mindfulness can help a child differentiate inner from outer awareness. Instead of things being all "clumped together" - a mishmash of simultaneous information, differentiation can help distinguish an external action - say, calling peter a fatass in front of a group of girls - from the internal experience that Peter would have at that moment.

Why is it adults are more aware than children? The prefrontal areas of the brain - the parts which allow us to judge and evaluate our environments - doesn't reach full maturity until 21 years of age. However, since the brain changes due to experiences - a process called experience dependent plasticity - you can target development of frontal lobe areas earlier in life.





However, how do you teach right-side thinking? You can't.


I appreciate your input, but you should realize that there's a whole literature on this subject which has already demonstrated that a) the brain is plastic b) the brain is lateralized, with emotional processes being dominant in the right hemisphere, and linguistic processes being dominant in the left hemisphere, c) certain activities promote right brain development; fMRI scans demonstrate increased activity in the right orbitofrontal cortex in children who practice mindfulness daily.

The brain is plastic. Our minds our EMBODIED - what we are as individuals is a combination of genetics and early life experiences which "shape" our early brain development. It is absolutely essential that people realize this and understand that who we are as individuals is not some mysterious, inexplicable thing, but the product of interactions that occur in the first few years of life - the time when the brain is growing, pruning - based upon what the environment "feeds" into it's processing systems.



posted on Dec, 23 2013 @ 02:01 AM
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It might be easier to get children to not get into the victim mentality than stop the bully mentality (they go hand in hand).
If you don't feel a victim then you would not be worried about bullies.
Unfortunately all children grow up with people telling them how to be - even nice parents tell their children they are good and bad - they have to shape up to fit in this crazy world.

Victim and bully states are just the result of living in duality. It is the human game - nothing will stop it - children have to go through this.

The education system likes to produce bullies (bosses/authority figures) and victims (slaves/batteries to run the system) - it is the system.

When the system has been firmly implanted and one has become an adult and has left the confines of the physical cage - home environment and school environment - one then gets other authority figures. A wife/husband tells you how you should be - the job tells you how to be - the media and society tell you how you should be (programming). One has learned early on that one must be a certain way - one has learned to be a victim, one has learned that there is always authority 'out there'.
edit on 23-12-2013 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)





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