Today I spoke to the secondary pupils at Maple Hayes Hall Dyslexia School. The title of my talk was: ‘It’s not what happens but how we choose to respond that counts.’ I wanted them to know that despite (and perhaps because) of their challenges with reading and writing etc they can still lead happy, loved and successful lives. Thank you Jackie Tweedie for your repeated requests to the head teacher to get me in to talk.
It’s hard to say how it went but I know I gave it my all and I hope that some of the things that I shared will stick with them. I know my heart felt very open as I looked around into the eyes of so many young people.
With dyslexia they will have their additional challenges as if life isn’t tough enough for young people already. I keep hearing about the massive increase in mental health issues amongst our youth and on Radio 4 while driving to the school there was an interview with a 9 year old boy who was depressed and said he saw no point in living. What is going on??! He said that he asks himself the big questions like ‘why are there wars?’ and ‘why aren’t people kinder to each other?’ My suspicion is that these larger issues, that young people can see no solution to are having a massive detrimental effect on their well- being. It makes me a little sad.
Young people are the future. The extent to which we invest in them now will determine the future of humanity.
One Love x
I have been seeing my resistance to asking to have my needs met recently. I notice that sometimes I don’t ask for what I need for, for fear of rejection…for fear of the other saying ‘no’. And that somehow if they were to say ‘no’ I would somehow be less, I would be worse off than if I had kept my mouth closed. But I also know that this is not true.
Whenever we ask for what we need we are honouring our selves and this equates to self love. This in turn helps to heal and integrate the disconnected aspects of ourselves, the separation that has happened inside us from our experiences as children. When we ask we do so with as little attachment to the outcome as possible, knowing that the fact that we have had the courage to speak or ask is the most important thing and this alone has healed something inside us.
It’s okay to be needy because actually neediness connects us. It is encoded in our humanity that we need others. It facilitates connection and interdependence which is an aspect of all creation and all that is in alignment with the natural laws.
Somewhere along the line we learnt that it is weak to be needy, to ask for help, to not be able to do it all on our own. But I say that it takes courage and strength and vulnerability to reach out and ask for help and say ‘hey! I can’t do this on my own!’
We were not meant to do this on our own!! No man is an island. If you took the plug out of the ocean and drained all the water away you would see that everything is connected. Islands are an illusion of separation.
And when we ask to have our needs met by another we serve them in many ways too. They get the honour of being the one to serve you, to help someone that they care about. When you are asked for help, doesn’t it invariably feel good? YES? Because being there for others brings us back in alignment with our true nature of Love.
Nothing is absolute and there are also times when we need to meet our own needs, to go within and see if what we crave externally is something that we need to source from deep within ourselves. And also there are some people who need to hear our ‘No’ if we feel that they would do well to start taking some responsibility.
Sometimes the strong thing is not to stay in your corner of the forest and expect others to know what you need or do it all alone. Sometimes the strong thing is to ask for help, to ask for what you need. Let’s celebrate our neediness and remember it is another divine aspect of this amazing, rich, bitter sweet experience of being human.
We were born to meet each other’s needs. In meeting another’s needs we meet our own for in truth there really is no ‘other’, there is Only One.
Yesterday was my last mentoring session with James (not his real name). I have been seeing James for an hour and a half every two weeks for over a year. Now the funding has run out as he has finished school and moved on to college. The primary objective of the mentoring was to prevent him from being expelled from school. We achieved that at least.
I am sad that I won’t get to see him anymore but he knows that he can call me any time if he wants to talk. He probably won’t. None of the many young people that I have worked with over the last 20 years ever get back in touch. They just disappear and I can only hope that some of the seeds that I have sown will take root so that they may grow strong and healthy and even perhaps flower.
James is no angel. He hangs around in the gang scene, listens to gang music and wears gang clothes. He is addicted to cannabis. It helps his anxiety and his back pain and helps keep him numb and distracted from the shadows of his past that haunt him.
He was fostered by the mother of his best friend and so has been very lucky in this respect. He was taken from his own mother and separated from his siblings by social services eventually when his step father slammed his head in a door as a punishment. He was about 11 years old at the time. This incident was the last in a series of violent abuse that James had suffered. His father has been in prison for most of his life.
I don’t know what life has in store for James but I know the road ahead will not be straight forward. It’s hard to break the cycle of drugs, crime and violence that is his daily life and all he really knows.
In our time together we would always go to a cafe and have a full English breakfast. It felt important to me to share food, for me to offer him some physical nourishment as well as emotional and spiritual. I do this with most of my mentees. While we ate we would talk and I would catch up on what had been happening since we last met. I would offer guidance here and there but try my best not to judge. After we would go for a drive. James would be in charge of the stereo and we would invariably listen to gang music … loud! I didn’t challenge him too much about the lyrics. I know the music is a form of self harm, the pain in the lyrics makes James feel that it is not just him, that he is not alone and the songs sing of feelings etc that he is not able to express himself.
It seems primarily important when we work in a therapeutic way with anyone that we accept them as they are. James says he has listened to hundreds of people who have tried to change him and fix him and put him on the right path. He listened to me when I did challenge him because most of the time I accept him as he is. I never told him to stop smoking because I did the same thing when I was his age. I was stoned for 10 years until I was ready to begin exorcising the pain of my childhood.
Anyway I feel that it is important for me to do what I can, as an awakening man, for James and the other young men that I mentor face to face or via video call. The children are the future. They are growing up in an environment that is far from the optimum conditions for health, self esteem and happiness. When we heal ourselves we help the young people that we come into contact with. As Bob Marley said ‘you can’t blame the youth.’ They are a product of our dysfuncional society. It’s just as well that the old is crumbling and the new is rising for the sake of all the innocent children across the planet.
So I asked James to write a few words by way of recommendation to other young men and this is what he wrote. Not the kind of thing you would expect really from a tough gang member, criminal, drug user!!
‘I highly recommend miguel dean mentoring sessions as they are very useful for young persons such as myself going through family trouble, abuse, bullying, anxiety and any other issues or even just to chat. miguel is genuinely the nicest man I’ve ever met and I hope more people reach out to him as the sessions are extremely useful – miguel thank you so much mate I have found great value in the sessions and I will never forget the lessons you taught me thank you thank you thank you’
Bless him and all the children.