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To All Young People, Now is the Best Time to Change Your World

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I was sixteen years old when I first felt the pure exhilaration and profound sense of purpose through political activism. I was a junior in high school, elected as a student member of our district’s school board in Rock Island, Illinois. At my very first meeting, I was faced with a disturbing agenda item: budget cuts. Our economy was in the tank, revenues were down and the school board had no choice but to cut sports, music, arts programs and lay-off teachers. 

All of these options seemed unacceptable: Cutting sports, music or the arts? No thanks. Firing our teachers? That one really shook me. The faculty at Rock Island High School defined the community at Rocky. I couldn’t imagine a worse decision than firing teachers.

So, I proposed the only option that made sense to me: raise money. I figured if we increased local property taxes, we’d be able to make up our shortfalls. It worked. We put “Save Our Schools” on the ballot in November as a referendum to give the power back to the community. Most said it was a long shot, and some even snickered at the proposition. But after weeks of organizing students, going door-to-door and canvassing, the referendum passed. We saved art, music, sports and, most importantly, hundreds of teachers’ jobs.

Staring into the teary eyes of a young teacher whose job we’d saved, I’ll never forget what she told me. “My mother was a teacher here, and so was my grandmother. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t teach at Rocky. “she said,” You saved my career. Thank you.” As she hugged me tightly, a feeling of change swept through me. I understood for the first time a fundamental truth that I’ve lived by ever since: I can make a difference, and I should.

“If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed one.” – Mother Teresa

Only later did I realize that my decision to get involved and speak up marked my first foray into activism, and in doing so I was unwittingly participating in a family history that stretched back for generations.

Many years after that first campaign victory and my becoming a professional political consultant, I learned about my grandfather, Joseph Rakow—a revolutionary exiled to Siberia at the age of only fifteen during the last legs of Imperial Russia. 

After my grandfather spent ten bitter years in exile, separated from his home and family, Joseph immigrated to Chicago and worked in the very conditions that spurred Upton Sinclair to write The Jungle. My grandfather, whom I never met, dedicated his life to union organizing as a means to enfranchise the working poor. When I discovered his memoir in an attic and had it translated, my heart lit up. I was inspired by his unwavering commitment to justice and equality. I realized I wasn’t alone, but stood as part of a long lineage. 

If you’re a young person today, you live in one of the best times to be an activist. According to Jessica Taft, a leading scholar on youth activism and an associate professor of Latino Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz, for every name that makes the headlines— Greta, Malala, Amariyanna, the Parkland students— there are thousands more young people making a difference in their own communities all across the globe. “Adults,” she says, “make a lot of assumptions about children and what they’re capable of, and those assumptions are often quite false.” In other words, the world you see around you isn’t the only possible world. An activist’s job is to recognize that change is possible if they organize, work and vote. 

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.” – Nelson Mandela

One of the best ways to begin your activism career is to get smart on an issue or two—social justice, criminal law reform, climate change—and to vote (if you are old enough) for candidates who embody your values. 

We’re fortunate to live in a representative democracy, but too often we take our ability to vote for granted. That has to change. Apart from the elected positions like the Presidency or the U.S. Congress, we also all have an opportunity to vote for positions that many of us overlook—local city council or school board. 

Rather than leaving the bubbles by their names blank, research them and develop a sense of how their governance might affect your community and the issues you care about. Activism doesn’t have to be global. In fact, some of the most meaningful changes are the ones that happen right in your community.  

Second, it’s important to figure out your story and identify what motivates you. Whenever I work with a political candidate running for office, I don’t just slap a campaign slogan on their forehead, I help them identify a narrative and message that will define them on the campaign trail. A good way to develop your story is to recall a time when you knew something was wrong: maybe you witnessed racism or saw someone bullied. Find your moral instinct and let it develop into the kind of activism you stand by—maybe it is social justice or an anti-bullying campaign. Doing so is a great way to ensure you are guided by your values. 

Finally, activism is really a way to give back to your community. There’s an ancient Jewish proverb by Hillel the Elder that goes like this: “If I am only for myself, who am I?” Scholars have discussed this for years, but one answer is clear: no one is truly for themselves. We all exist through our community bonds and ties, and we become who we are from our experiences. We owe it to each other to recognize injustices and ruptures in those communities, and to fight for a future where we can all some day turn to each and say, Thank you. 

What have you done recently to inspire positive change in your community? Share your stories with us in the comments!

John Shallman is an award-winning media, advertising and campaign professional with an unparalleled record of political victories for clients throughout the country. The LA Times profiled his propensity for pulling off political upsets in their article entitled, “He’s Led Political Darkhorses to Surprising Wins.” Shallman’s roster of wins includes Governors, U.S. Senators, Congressmembers, State Legislators, and local elected officials from Mayor to District Attorney. Shallman is a “go-to” crisis management expert for A-List celebrities, corporate executives and athletes. He has consulted for a number of television and film projects, appeared on television news including ABC’s Nightline, CNN, Fox News and has lectured at Universities and Colleges across the country. John Shallman is the author of the forthcoming book Return From Siberia due from Skyhorse Publishing on Aug. 18.

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Life

Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.

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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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Life

5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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Life

3 Simple Steps to Cultivate Courage and Create a Life of Meaning

we cultivate meaning in our lives when we pursue our calling

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Our deepest human desire is to cultivate meaning in our lives. Our deepest human need is to survive. (more…)

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Life

Grit: The Key to Your Ultimate Greatness

Grit is an overlooked aspect of success, but it plays a critical role.

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A grit mindset is an essential key to your greatness. It’s what separates those who achieve their goals from those who give up and never reach their potential. It’s also the difference between success and failure, happiness and misery. If you want to be great and achieve your dreams, then you need grit. Luckily, it’s something that can be learned. Please keep reading to learn more about grit and discover four ways to develop it. (more…)

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