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Consciousness

Research Shows That Time In Prison Does Not Successfully “Rehabilitate” Most Inmates

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The basic idea of rehabilitation through imprisonment is that a person who has been incarcerated will never want to be sent back to prison after they have been set free. It is hoped that an inmate’s experiences while locked up will leave such a lasting impression that a former prisoner will do whatever it takes to avoid a second term.

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Unfortunately, research has consistently shown that time spent in prison does not successfully rehabilitate most inmates, and the majority of criminals return to a life of crime almost immediately. Many argue that most prisoners will actually learn new and better ways to commit crimes while they are locked up with their fellow convicts. They can also make connections and become more deeply involved in the criminal world. (source)

Ignorance is so convenient. But time’s up. We all have a choice to make, and hopefully, it will be an informed one.

Chances are we all probably fall into one of two populations. One: thoughtful, compassionate, aware and self-aware, or two: thoughtless, selfish, unaware, and self-righteous.

Creating Criminals

So, where do criminals come from? When we believed slavery was proper, we believed some people were given to us to righteously use and abuse. Today, in its place we have what I call The Tulip Theory. When I was newly married about 35 years ago, my husband and I were into gardening and we sent away for 100 tulip bulbs from Holland, never mind that we lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County or that climate change was yet to be considered.

The Tulip Theory

The endeavor to garden was life-changing for me. The bulbs arrived. I opened the box and there, on top of 100 tulip bulbs, was a note: “The wonderful thing about these bulbs is you can’t go wrong. They don’t need any care. You don’t have to water them, feed them or put them into the ground. Whatever you do or don’t do, they will still blossom into beautiful blooms even if you leave them on a shelf in the dark.” I put down the piece of paper and said to my husband, “Oh, my God. I was raised on The Tulip Theory.”

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Prisoners were raised on The Tulip Theory, and some of us look at them as though they were given to us to righteously despise or to give us the illusion of superiority, when we’re not doing so well, ourselves. Today, lots of us share the philosophy of the tulip farmers, even professors, attorneys, and doctors, who may end up raising unhappy children by setting expectations without nurturing and coaching their children into achievement with regular prompts such as, “I know you can do this.”

Some parents raise ‘timebombs’ and shooters, in part because we leave our babies in the hands of daycare providers or rotating neighbors and relatives – this can be very psychologically damaging for some children.  The economy requires a two-income household now, so it is easy to see why both parents do end up working.  Working during the formative first five years of our children’s lives used to be a choice. Now, not so much.

The very wealthy want even more money. What they have is never enough. The pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry and the educational industry all want you to believe in The Tulip Theory aka take the side of Nature in the Nature vs. Nurture debate. You have been told that the jury is in and the scientific evidence supports genetic programming of personality.

When I was a young, new therapist, I didn’t believe it, but my clients did. They brought me articles about evidence that their personalities were inborn. They brought articles about the Scandinavian Studies, the Schizophrenic Studies, the Babies Separated at Birth Studies, and the Adoption Studies.

I was never a science major. That wasn’t my thing. However, it appeared to me I had no choice. So, for twenty-five years, more or less, I researched the research. I had to teach myself how to read a study because they were written so that few would ever understand them. I finally got it down, and I uncovered and listed about 20 techniques that scientists use repeatedly to get the results they are paid to get (Snyder, The Search for the Unholy Grail, 2016).

I listed these techniques so that anyone could read, assess and see through a behavioral study. The best-designed studies and research questions can be replicated. The worst cannot. The best studies represent childhood causes. The worst represent genetic alleged causality. Some scientists from the Human Genome Project admitted that finding such genetic instruction isn’t supported by research or the design of the human brain to include inborn behavioral programs, after all.

All this is to say the jury is in, whether you want to know it or not. Criminals are made, not born. Sometimes, even with good parenting, a community can be so saturated with survival behavior, a parent can’t win. Still, there are consequences to parenting choices. Most of us don’t know them. So, we depend upon The Tulip Theory. How we raise a child will determine how successful and praiseworthy they become or how damned they will be. There but for the grace of God go I, right?

Not convinced? In another book I wrote about how anyone—parent, judge, school counselor, therapist, forensic evaluator—could assess a childhood on a single sheet of paper, and within a 10% margin of error, predict forward a person’s aptitude for a successful life or not (Snyder, Predicting and Understanding Behavior According to Critical Childhood Experiences, 2016). The same measures can help us understand backward how a person became the way they are.

Criminals Are Made, Not Born

Criminals are made, not born. In this book I evaluate the childhoods of 25 famous people known for extreme behaviors, so the reader can see how their childhoods created who they became.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, El Paso, ad infinitum, all had killers who were predictable and understandable, yet we continue to wonder how a person could do such a horrible thing. In 1988, I spent about twenty hours interviewing The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, and realized that no one honors thy father and mother like a serial killer. I studied the childhood of Jeffrey Dahmer in depth only to discover he killed in order to keep from being left. As an infant, his mother wouldn’t touch him. Even after he was old enough to climb out of his crib, she pushed him away from her. I watched the Menendez Brothers trial from beginning to end and heard jurors say afterwards, “I was abused, and I didn’t grow up to kill my parents.”

We don’t understand cause and effect yet.

How To Make A Criminal

Over the years, I developed a formula of not only what critical childhood experiences it takes to turn out to be dangerous or amazing people but in what combinations and orders these events need to take place.

Attachment Is The Foundation

A violent person has to have had an insecure attachment, to have been physically abused, and probably emotionally shamed as well. They too have to have been raised in a family with a repression ethic, as the underground child, but they also have to have been raised within a family blame ethic versus a family self-reflection ethic. If all three of these factors are present, there will be violence. If one factor is missing, there will not be violence without provocation. Repeat: If a child has had a secure attachment, she will never have the drive to exploit or harm another person, even after a high dose of abuse.

Put another way, a secure attachment in the first five years of life makes a child not only immune to long-term effects of abuse, but just about guarantees resilience as well. I could go on, but that’s not what I came to tell you today. I came to talk about why people become criminals and what we can do about it, if we care to invest in the quality of human development.

Criminal behavior involves a legacy of abuse, like slavery, racism, devaluations, and survival, but it can also be linked to families who simply fail to form an attachment with their child, employ abusive discipline, judge and blame others, and then insist their child not complain.

Insecure Attachment

To create a poverty-based criminal, start with an insecure attachment because most of these moms and dads have to work. Add issues of deprivation and chronic concerns of survival. Add emotional abuse, a blame ethic (versus a self-reflection ethic), and a repression ethic (versus an expression ethic). Depending upon the seriousness of the crime, some or all of these features will be formative in childhood.

Then, there are the adult ‘modifiers’. The adult child could run into a wonderful group of friends or a religious environment of ethics and character, or the adult child could hang with drug addicts or gang members that influence them in another direction.

Majority Of Criminals Come From Deprivation and Broken Attachments

Note that the way to create the majority of criminals comes from broken attachments, deprivation and a lack of parental investment, but the way to create some of the most brutal criminals in the world is to give them broken attachments, to not give the child a stable and constant parental figure, as well as to over-indulge them with an entitlement to exploit and abuse others. The most terrible people on the planet murder, torture, exploit and abuse others. They are our dictators. Supporting them are business people without scruples, who invest in the entitled exploitation of others.

Prevention, Recovery And Forgiveness

How do you feel about punishment and retribution? Have you thought you would like to rub someone into the ground for their harmful choices? Have you ever asked, “How could someone do this?” That question reveals that one doesn’t yet consider that meanness comes from a different way of thinking born of a different set of experiences and history.

This has to be Awareness 101.

The language we use, the values we have, the understandings we reference are not inborn. We don’t know what we don’t know. And even if we had some peripheral exposure to ethics, we disregard them, because those ethics never protected us. As a matter of fact, it may enrage us that others get to have such pretty lives, and we didn’t. We believe what we experience.

We take as true what we are taught unless we are given permission to question. If you want a person to think differently or better, you have to ensure they have the wherewithal or freedom to think differently.

Would we be willing to rehabilitate them in a controlled environment rather than punish them? Of course, we need a multi-tiered program where people earn their ways into more privileged populations. The hardcore prisoners don’t get to go up to the next tier unless they soften.

Can we then grant them trauma therapy and classes on adulting and relationship skills? Can we grant them an education? Can we grant them an opportunity to have relationships?

Can we find pleasure in the satisfaction they discover from praise for a job well done? Would we grant them a permanent companion, a dog, who loves them and only them (given the dog is safe)? Would we allow them to enjoy playing tennis?

Would we grant them a television to watch the news or educational programming? Would we want them to have good books to read, especially literature and sociological studies? Would we grant them the right to vote if it makes them feel a part of the system to which they never thought they could belong?

What do you think about redemption?

Can we grant them another round to try to live a better life? If a person learns to think differently and comes to regret their bad and harmful choices, are we capable of forgiving them? Can we take our boot off their neck? Can we grant them some guarded faith that they can turn their lives around? Or, would we insist that they couldn’t possibly change and should therefore never be forgiven?

Can we give them the opportunities we had that they never had? Can we believe in them, or would we be the people who refuse to believe in redemption? Would we, then, be hypocrites?

How would we assess whether a person has changed or could change? Do we have criteria by which we evaluate whether or not a person has genuinely changed? Can we recognize true remorse? Can we credit humility? Can we look for different choices? Do we recognize the dangers of negative mirrors, wherein a person can never outgrow their reputation? Can we identify a healthy dialogue supported by virtuous values? Can we praise new choices and show appreciation?

Rather than holding them as people we self-righteously despise, we might find our own reward in helping them take the high road and consider that a person never chose their own fate but lived out only what they knew. If we give them new experiences, we might find that we are richer ourselves, and capable of investing in a world of better people. Our planet is down to the final challenges between the enlightened and the greedy.

What side will you be on?

This article was written for Collective Evolution by Dr Faye Snyder.

Dr. Faye Snyder is a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and forensic evaluator. She is the founder and clinical director of the non-profit Parenting and Relationship Counseling (PaRC) Foundation in Granada Hills, California. She has taught developmental psychology at the California State University, Northridge. Most importantly, Dr. Faye, as she prefers to be called, along with her husband, Ron, is the proud parent of daytime Emmy winning Scott Clifton, her laboratory and her evidence. Dr. Faye is a late bloomer and is rapidly producing products designed to help parents heal their children from previous injuries or raise their children for greatness.

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 26: The Banker)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

26. The Banker

In the banker’s office at the village bank on the island of Allandon, the glassblower was just completing a loan application for renovations to his glass shop. He was about to sign when he noticed something peculiar about the final sentence.

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“What’s this?” he asked as he read the final line: “Warning: late payments will not lead to prosecution.

“Yes, what about it?”

“Well, it must be a typo. Surely you meant ‘…will lead to prosecution.’”

The banker smiled to himself for a moment. Then he said, “Do you want me to let you in on a little secret?”

“Sure,” said the glassblower.

“A while back many people were not making their monthly payments on time. They had every excuse in the book. So I had that line added to the bottom of the contract to prevent them from taking advantage of me. And so you’re right, it is a typo. The printer put in the ‘not’ by mistake.”

“Well, don’t you think you should change it right away?” asked the glassblower.

“Well, I was going to when it first came to my attention,” said the banker. “The first customer that saw the new contract pointed it out. But he thought it was my way of showing my trust in him. He promised that he wouldn’t let me down. I was too embarrassed to tell him it was a typo.”

“But then you didn’t change it.”

“I was planning to, but before I could get in touch with the printer, another customer also noticed it. She was amazed at the way I was willing to do business. She made quite a big fuss about it.”

“Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. What if the word got out that you were doing this?”

“Well, long story short—it did. She told a lot of people and suddenly they were coming to me, calling me ‘the trusting banker,’ and ‘the caring banker’. And certainly they would all be looking for that line in their contracts when they came to me for loans.”

“And so you were stuck.”

“You could say that—but I promised myself that I would fix it the next time someone was late with a payment.” After a slight pause the banker added, “That was twenty years ago.”

Whenever we want to ensure right action, whether it be in a business deal, teaching our kids, or holding a vision for humanity, we tend to automatically resort to discouraging wrong action. This is the persistent temptation we face living in a world of duality.

Proclaiming ‘Thou shalt not…’ followed by a threat of retribution has long purported to be what is required to maintain an orderly and harmonious community and world. The underlying assumption here is that there are universal ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ actions, an absolute code of what is good and what is evil. In many religious traditions, there exists a supreme Being who is the author and enforcer of an absolute code of moral conduct, the rules and commandments that we must follow in order to be saved. This supreme Being presides on our ‘day of judgment’ after our death, to determine if our cumulative actions in the world merit either eternal salvation or eternal damnation.

Ahem.

I’m not saying this state of affairs is impossible, but it has long puzzled me how an all-powerful and omniscient Being could ever find the motivation or desire to judge good acts from evil acts, since this Being is ultimately the source of all acts. The idea that this Being would somehow have a need for our obedience, or have any needs whatsoever in fact, doesn’t make any sense to me. It smacks of anthropomorphism—our tendency to give human attributes to something that is not human.

This ‘supreme Judger’ appears to me as a projection of our Ego Self onto the Being that I have called the Dao. When we come from the perspective of the Ego Self, then we tend to be deeply involved in matters of right and wrong, judgment and retribution. We are likely to believe that some among us are basically evil, not to be trusted, and if given the freedom to act from an inner compass will undoubtedly seek to harm others. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because in coming from an environment of mistrust and fear we continue to create mistrust and fear.

This perspective is only reinforced by the media, which sells copy and maintains ratings by clearly distinguishing the heroes from the villains in our society. It is easy to buy into it, as it can be comforting to know who the good people are and who the bad people are—especially since we consider ourselves to be on the side of good. And so naturally it appears more than obvious that we need to have some common form of morality to contain the potential damage coming from the bad guys.

The idea that we will be considered good if and only if we follow some universal code of moral responsibility towards others is very tempting, as it saves us the work of figuring out from the inside how we should act. But therein lies my firm objection, and why I take the opposite tack: I believe we have absolutely no moral responsibility to others. We do not ‘owe’ people respect, compassion, or charity. Of higher importance is that we actually feel that we have a choice.

Our true moral obligation, our path, our destiny, and also not coincidentally our greatest bliss, is to endeavor to find and be our true self. But this is not even a real obligation, it’s a choice we made that we have forgotten about, the choice to come into this world. If we owe other people anything it is to get to know ourselves better so that we can act from our connectedness while sharing the gift of our unique perspective. The closer we move to the center of our being, the more we become aligned with our freedom of choice, of real choice, not of choice based on compulsion or command. My experience of life has shown me that when I am free to act in accordance with my true self, my Dao Self, I act out of love. The love flows easily, and is genuine and empowering. When I am ‘loving’ as a result of some outwardly proscribed moral directive, the expression is always dry, stunted, and unenthusiastic.

What is morality but one person’s idea thrust upon another? No system of morality ever sponsored great love, compassion or true acceptance. All commands, orders, rules and imperatives come from the fear of the Ego Self. Even the greatest commandment of all, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ loses its essential power if it is taken as a commandment rather than as a proposal freely offered to consider. Enlightened masters who spoke powerfully about love such as Jesus understood that real love is a natural expression of our true self. Throughout our history the tendency of humans has been to misinterpret this call to love as a ‘you must do this’ rather than a ‘try this on’. I don’t believe it has ever been the intention of the truly enlightened masters to have their offerings hardened into mandatory moral codes.

When we stand behind a moral code we can become righteous about our own moral superiority. From on high, it is easy to condemn and judge others for what we have determined are ‘evil’ acts. But this judgment and condemnation is actually the lynchpin of the entire problem. Someone might say, “I believe that everyone should respect each other,” but in saying so they might feel justified in closing the door to respecting people who do not respect them. And so the person who most desperately needs respect and love—the one who cannot in a given moment respect and love others—does not receive it, and we all get stuck. It is only when we are able to move closer to our Dao Self that we get in touch with our authentic desire to respect others, out of the pure joy of expansion and expression of love. This respect is afforded even when—especially when—the other has no respect for us, because this is where the respect is most pressingly needed.

Consider the possibility that right and wrong are never absolute, and in fact we are all continually making it up as we go along, to create dramatic effect in the unfolding of the play called human life. In the old Spaghetti Westerns, we could tell the good guys and the bad guys apart, since the good guys wore the white hats and the bad guys wore the black hats. The difference in real life is that everybody thinks that they are the good guy. They really do. And do you know why they think so? Because they are. We are all good. Wars and fighting only occur between some good guys who have one idea of what is good and other good guys who have a different idea about what is good.

The sooner we see that good and evil is really a fabrication of the Ego Self, the sooner we will be able to take the next leap in consciousness, and come more fully from our Dao Self. When we do, we will gain an understanding that we are all fundamentally good, and when we are able to act authentically we can be trusted to exercise our free will in ways that will benefit others. It stands to reason: from the perspective of the Dao Self, we and others are the same. Coming from our Dao Self we would never harm the world because our Dao Self is the world.

No matter how ‘moral’ we consider ourselves to be, if we are still judging others for being less ‘moral’, then we are instantly pulled by our judgment out of the realm of our Dao Self and back into our Ego Self. For the time being, I think the best we can do to move things along is to realize that those who do ‘wrong’—that is to say, detrimental to others—are simply acting out of fear, and are unaware of their true nature. Rather than being condemned and castigated they need to be understood and accepted. The condemnation of evil should not be confused with the celebration of good. The emotional need to exact revenge by condemning people who have perpetrated crimes is the same as the emotional need behind the crime itself. We actually circulate divisive energy by overtly demonstrating our opposition to ignorance of self. And so to me, whenever I see on the news the hordes of people standing outside a prison, vilifying a man or woman who is to be executed for a heinous crime, I can only think that those people are projecting the very darkness that they are condemning.

The attempt to legitimize the separation of people as good and evil, worthy and unworthy is itself a denial of our unity and connectedness as human beings. As Khalil Gibran says,

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.

But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, so the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

And as a single leaf does not turn yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden knowledge of you all.

When we come from a place of oneness, judgment is pointless. We are captured by the joyful feeling that we are all in this together. Eventually it is possible to see that all acts, those we call good and those we call evil, are really on a continuum of actions all motivated by the same basic human desire—the desire for unity. The low point of this continuum is total ignorance of who we are and the high point is fully embodied knowledge of our true nature—as One. The acts that emerge from a knowledge of self try to arrive at unity by embracing diversity. Acts of charity, humility, and compassion are obvious attempts to unite with others. The acts that emerge from an ignorance of self tend to try to arrive at unity by suppressing or destroying diversity. The need to conform is a good example. So is jealousy, which stems from the desire to be united with another. Even the act of genocide is founded on an attempt to unify one’s race or culture—by killing people who are different.

Easy now. Let’s not misunderstand what is being said here. The assertion that there is no absolute good and evil does not mean that we need to consider all acts as the same. When we let go of judgment we are still left with the power of discernment. We know an act of kindness has a significantly different effect from an act of violence. We know from experience that the kind of unity that the Ego Self seeks inevitably tears us farther apart. But if we as witnesses of such acts can frame them not as evil but rather as simply ignorant, then it helps us to maintain a vision of ourselves and the other as One. From there we can see that if people knew more about who they were and what they were doing that they would be seeking to unify not out of a fear of being alone but out of a love of being One.

Of course as individuals we are not there yet. We are all at various stages or levels of awareness of our true self. And that is all well and good. Being at one place on the continuum of awareness is no better than being at another. Being self-aware is not ‘better’ than being ignorant. It simply is what is. For each of us I believe a time will come in our evolution when we will realize that our diversity is our greatest gift. It is actually what makes any worthwhile experience possible. And the easiest way to achieve unity without rejecting diversity is to act with the belief that there is already a unity underneath our differences. This, in all its shades and nuances, is what it means to act out of love.

I am not saying we ought to act this way. There is no ‘should’ in love. Love flows naturally. So rather than enforcing moral standards, informing each other what is right and wrong, we are better off trying to be gentle and accepting, creating a space that is big enough to allow each person to think, speak, and act in accordance with what they believe is good. The new conversation honors your personal morality based on your unique set of values and experiences. It does not support a fixed and universal morality since this can actually serve to hide you from your true nature. After all, if you follow rules that oppose your desires, how will you ever learn about your true nature? How will you ever come to face your own ignorance? It is only in a space where we feel we are allowed to show our ignorance, our darkness, that we become capable of dissolving our ignorance and seeing who we truly are. And as we go forward we become more able to help others discover the same thing about themselves—not out of some moral imperative, but out of the joy of expressing and expanding ourselves into the world.

The new conversation is a call to heal our darkness together. There is no one we need to look to but ourselves. There is no guru, no expert, no savior, because all of us have darkness. All of us need healing. As imperfect beings we will create the space as best we can, a space without right and wrong. We only need to be authentic, and speak the truth of our desires. In an environment where we no longer feel the need to suppress our true desires in favor of the ‘right’ way to think, speak and act, we are likely to enjoy a far more empowering sense of ourselves as beings of pure love.

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Consciousness

How To Deal With Society Pressuring You To Get Married

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When I was younger, I would think about the concept of marriage and get overwhelmed with emotions: excitement for the potential to find my soulmate and to share my life with that person, fear of knowing that this may never happen, and panic in considering what legally binding myself to another person truly means. As a child, I simply assumed I’d get married, because that’s what society considers “normal.” As I got older, my perception changed and I started noticing that most of my peers shared one thing in common: All of them wanted to get married. This seemed backwards to me, as I couldn’t possibly know if I wanted to get married before I met someone I wanted to be with forever. Marriage has become a social norm; society expects you to get married and to do so before the age of 30 (sometimes even younger depending on what culture you’re from). This belief system puts significant pressure on couples, creating “the marriage trap.”

How Marriage Became a Social Norm

When it all boils down, marriage is a legal contract. By choosing to marry your partner, you are legally required to be committed to that individual and typically to share your assets. Contracts are usually made for a limited time period and designed with an “if you do this… then I will do this…” mentality. If your relationship is so strong that you know, deep down, that you will be with your partner for the rest of your life, then why should you require a binding contract to verify your bond?

According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of people in Western societies get married before the age of 50. A shocking 86% of young people in the U.S. believe that when they get married, it will be for life (literally, “until death do us part”). Many may view this number as high, but I perceive it to be surprisingly low. If you’re about to commit to being in a relationship for your entire life, shouldn’t you be 100% positive it will last forever? In Western societies, people between the ages of 25 and 35 are heavily pressured to get married and have kids. People seem to be more concerned about accomplishing this goal than they are about potentially marrying the wrong person. It’s no wonder approximately half of the married couples in the U.S. end up divorced.

What is the Marriage Trap? 

If you’ve already decided that you will get married in the future, you’re willingly creating expectations about your present and/or future partner. You could currently be with the “right person,” but because you’ve constructed a timeline for your relationship (when and if you want to get married, have kids, etc.), you’re putting added stress on your partner and yourself. Society will also pressure you into marrying your partner after you’ve been together for a certain length of time. If you’re not married within that timeframe, people assume there’s something wrong with your relationship. The weight of all of these expectations can make couples feel like they’re approaching an ultimatum, forcing them to choose between getting married or breaking up. If you’ve felt these societal pressures or you’re struggling to decide whether or not to marry your partner, you may have been sucked into the marriage trap.

How People Typically Decide Whether or Not to Get Married:

  1. Allowing your partner to make the decision: the easiest way to avoid your feelings.
  2. Letting love guide you: If you’re referring to self love, then that’s perfect. However, if you’re assuming that your love for an individual will fix all of your problems, you have a problem.
  3. Fear: of losing that person if you decide you don’t want to get married, of what others will think of you if you don’t get married, or of eventually growing apart from your partner instead of together.
  4. Ego: Your ego says you need to get married because society tells you to do so, allowing societal pressures to force you into an unwanted relationship.
  5. Physical attraction: A strong sex drive doesn’t always equate to love.
  6. Intuition: Following your gut can often provide incredible insights; however, if you’re not self-aware it may be difficult for you to listen to guidance from your Higher Self.
  7. Brain: Your brain may convince you you’re in love with someone, when you’re actually in love with the idea of that person. Just because your partner checks off all of the appropriate “boxes” you used to theorize your ideal partner, doesn’t mean you’re in love with them either.
  8. Biological clock: It’s typically easier for women to conceive before the age of 40, so they’ll often have biological children with the wrong mate instead of adopting children or taking the risk of not having children with the right person.
  9. Comparing your partner to other people: One study found that our dating choices are “98% a response to market conditions and just 2% immutable desires. Proposals to date tall, short, fat, thin, professional, clerical, educated, educated, uneducated people are all more than nine-tenths governed by what’s on offer that night.” This essentially means that most people will choose a partner by comparing them to other potential partners instead of truly following their heart.

What We Can Learn From the Marriage Trap

One study found that being married is 20 times more important to a person’s well-being than their income and 13 times more important than owning a house. That same study found that marriage makes people happier than religion and money. Although marriage has the power to form a strong, loving bond between two people and provide them with happiness, I don’t think that’s the underlying message we should take from these studies.

I would argue that it’s simply love that’s making these people happy and that they can find that same love within themselves, even if they’re single. Ultimately, it all comes down to self-awareness and self-love. You need to know yourself and love yourself before you can fully love another. Once you develop more self-love and a deeper understanding of your fundamental needs as an individual and in a partner, you’ll be prepared to choose a life partner (if you even want one).

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I’m not suggesting you should never get married, nor am I against monogamy. I’m simply saying you should avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and others and that you need to look within instead of outwards before making “the marriage decision.” Many people view marriage and love as synonymous and they forget that they can fuel that same love within themselves; you don’t need to be married to be happy and feel love. However, more and more people are realizing this and choosing not to get married. This begs the question, are we meant to be with only one person for the rest of our lives? I don’t think there’s a clear answer to this question because it differs for every person. The only thing I believe to remain true is that regardless of whether you’re single or in a relationship, you have the ability to find everlasting love within yourself.

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

– Rumi

Inspired by: The Marriage Decision: Everything Forever or Nothing Ever Again on Wait But Why

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Awareness

5 Great Benefits Kids Can Get From Yoga

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Yoga has a number of mind and body benefits, and those benefits have also been seen in children.

  • Reflect On:

    Should schools be incorporating yoga programs into their curriculum?

Kermit the Frog has a wonderful song – “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” And kids love this song because they can relate. After all, it’s not easy being a kid today either. More and more is asked of them in school; they are hurried from one activity to the next; homework begins at much earlier grade levels now, and then there are all of the digital distractions that top off fully exhausting days and evenings.

It’s Beginning to Show in the Classroom

Teachers are frustrated because attention spans seem to be so short and because they have to be entertainers if they want to engage learning in their classrooms. Parents worry that their kids won’t pass the standardized state tests that often decide promotion to the next grade. So, they cart their kids to tutoring sessions, among all of the sports practices. Kids just don’t have any non-stimulated time, and that is a huge concern. This is where yoga comes in.

Yoga – the Balance Every Kid Needs

Amidst the flurry of activity, there should be time for all kids to turn off their devices and tune out their activities and school work. There should be time for non-competitive physical activity, for some quiet reflection, and for the opportunity to enhance their ability to focus.

These are the big benefits of yoga and this is what kids can get when they learn and practice it.


  • Become aware of their breathing and the connections between deep breathing and the body’s feel.
    Techniques and games that foster this connection serve to improve focus, reduce stress, and actually cause the release of healthy hormones.


  • Balance: Techniques that focus on balance do far more than just develop control over the physical body. They assist increases in attention in natural ways, rather than through medication, which doctors are so quick to prescribe. As kids focus on a balance pose, they also clear their minds, thinking only of what their bodies are doing.

  • Kids have lots of natural flexibility – something that we adults lose as we grow older.  Doing stretching exercises increases flexibility, a flexibility that forms in muscles and joints and allows them to “yield.” Football players who practice yoga, for example, have far fewer serious injuries because they have developed flexibility. If flexibility exercises can become habitual with kids, they will perform better in any sport.

  • Focus and Awareness: A typical yoga exercise for young children is to have them close their eyes and focus on sitting just as a statue. They must become aware of all parts of their body in order to keep them still and stiff, and focus on keeping them that way. Then, when a short period of time is over, they are told to relax and just start laughing as hard as they can – a great release of energy and stress. They come to understand that they have control of their bodies and of their minds, and with this understanding comes confidence.

  • Relaxation and Meditation: This may be the most important benefit of yoga for young children. The early exercises of tightening and then relaxing muscles, of holding poses and moving from one pose into another, all take the mind away from the “harried” nature of their lives and have a strong calming effect. Meditation on their mats can occur as they sit in a pose or lie flat. In both instances, children can be guided to place their thought on a single thing – maybe a favorite pet or color.

Gradually, additional visualization can be added to meditation. One small private school has an assembly each morning. Children are on mats and perform yoga poses and exercises to music. Then, the “quiet” time begins. As they sit on their mats, softer music is played and they are asked to think of one thing they want to accomplish that day and to see themselves doing it – a small activity that inspires.

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Yoga for kids is all about developing habits of body and mind working together to create a more balanced lifestyle and develop great study habits. When these habits are instilled early, they tend to “stick” better.

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Click To Register Free

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