As a young child, I understood that people were different, but I didn't understand why. Several decades later, I have better understanding of why this is. Our society is not equitable, and neither are our systems. It is our responsibility, especially those of us with privilege, to understand this social phenomenon, its implications on human development, and contribute to the solution. In my coaching and meditation work, I believe that any larger systems change will only work if we develop deep self-awareness, which allow us to understand the inner working of our body, mind, and life. In spite of the inequity in our society, I hold strong to the reality that human beings are kind, strong and resilient, and can make sense of such inequities and life circumstances with appropriate supports and resources, and centered on developing self-awareness. Below, I also outline some of the main tenants that I consider when I consider equity, and supporting others to have self-compassion for their own experiences.
90% of our brains develop by the time we are 5 years old. The Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) has demonstrated clearly that how we experience childhood has a powerful link to how behave and engage in life in our later years, including impacts on our physical health (i.e., chronic health conditions) due to the underlying trauma.
Experiencing chronic traumatic events can leave our nervous system active and constantly scanning for danger, especially if these traumas occurred at vulnerable ages, like early childhood, for example. Its important to understand the pervasive nature of trauma and create environments of healing rather than practices and supports that may inadvertently re-traumatize. Trauma is unique to the individual and the context it occurred in.
The quality of education, health care, clean air, access to healthy foods, etc., all impact how our brains are structured as children, and impact how we experience life in later years, and how our sense of self is formed. Being born into these structures make it so that children have no say in how they are raised. Adults were once these kids, and we have to understand that challenging adult behaviors often stem from impacts to our development that we could not control or don't even recognize. We must work together to address issues of systemic racism, poverty, etc., and fix the systems that are not meeting the needs of our population.
The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise. (Oxford Dictionary) It's critical to keep in mind the intersectionality of these social categorizations, and their impact on people.
Some of us are born with unearned access to power and wealth , and because of the nature of human and brain development, we are unable to see this reality. As we become self-aware, and examine the nature of the human developmental process (especially our own), we must accept this reality, and work to offer solutions, beginning with can we personally do to alleviate this challenge.
Human beings who've endured incredibly difficult situations and life-long challenges often are able to make sense of difficulties, and thrive in spit of set backs. There is so much research on this, including body of knowledge on the domains of resilience. One powerful aspect of resilience that cannot be overlooked in our brain's capacity to develop new neural connections, and learn new skills, including evolving our self of self, response to stressors, etc. Developing new habits looks different for everyone depending on so many factors, including all of the above mentioned issues, and developmental capacity. One size does not fit all, and none of us move at the same speed.
I am a student of human development with a deep understanding of early childhood, childhood, and adolescent, and adult development. I approach my work with students as well as systems from a understand that human development is unique to each human, and there are similarities that accompany each developmental period that should be honored, and understood.
Human are wired for connection. Humans heal in connection. Relationships in early childhood, especially those with our primary attachment figures, impact how we see ourselves, and how we see others even if we don't consciously remember. As it relates to changes in our adult and adolescent years, we are more likely to see listen to others if they make us feel safe, understood, and appreciated.