Updated: Sep 4, 2019
By: Glyndora Condon M.S., M.F.T., L.P.C.
It appears that many millennials want emotional safety. They do not want anyone to say or do anything that may make them feel badly. Although that is a wonderful thought-it is not a practical one. Please let me explain why. We are not all cut from the same cloth. We come from many cultures and backgrounds. We all have a unique self and our own personality. Many-including them-are without needed social skills to safe guard other's feelings and/or all three boundaries (emotional, physical, and social) and this generation is less tolerant of anything that differs from their own agenda or preference than the generations that preceded this one.
In addition, even when one has the intent and is mindful as they speak to others-or are minding their own business in a public forum, then those who would like to not be offended; and who demand that their emotions be protected yet as they come across others who do not fit their image of "safe" or who may not believe in the same construct-will quickly rant and violate the same boundaries-that should apply to all mankind in a social world. Demanding respect and mindfulness of someone while violating them is hardly effective.
With such violations-then the reaction is likely to be defensive as this perceived cruelty s violate laws, rules (social boundaries), mores, as well as; physical and emotional boundaries; that are in place for all mankind to be governed by. We witness families trying to eat out, speeches that are encouraging these attacks; and hurtful behaviors while listening to these growing groups of people with the intent to force their ideology and way of life upon others; and feel it is acceptable to violate anyone who differs from them. This is confusing since their message is tolerance for them while they model intolerance in a much more aggressive venue.
Innocent compliments intended to build another, questions to help us to know another's boundary so as to be mindful, gestures that mean only-Okay; a display of a purchased emblem of one's favorite sport and team; one's faith, or one's political party can and does quickly become targeted as these who are intolerant-march with a fury to stomp out any who they perceive are threats to them-even when these who are being attacked are not aware of any issue-and are only focused on their own families or work. Being called names and threatened simply because of one's apparel or beliefs while in a public restaurant or attempting to go about their daily business is becoming more of a risk.
During a session with a Veteran who was just returned to the States; dealing with PTSD- told me of the contrast of the USA's culture- 10 years ago when he was deployed and the extreme difference that he found upon his return to his home. He had served and felt as family with multiple cultural and racial different people during his enlistment; as each of them watched over each other during combat. He loves the USA and all people within. He spoke of a genuine compliment regarding an unusual and interesting dialect of which he liked when a doctor was attending to him and his wounds; when from no where came someone yelling at him for being a racist-simply because he noted the dialect was different. Suddenly this wounded soldier felt in harm's way as he had to defend himself. I remember a time when I was working a new job and did not know the names of the ladies that I worked with yet. A person asked to speak with a lady who was black; and since there was only one in the office with 7, then I went to her and advised her that she had a client. The attractive, dark skinned co-worker then asked me how I knew that this person needed to speak to her-so I disclosed what the person said.
I intended no harm and had believed that this was a respectful reference during that time (the 80's). She quickly put her arm next to mine and asked me if I thought she was black. First, I was taken back-defensive in my mind; but calmly I replied that I was only repeating what the person said with respect. She had a beautiful dark brown color of skin and I too did not know why she was called black or I was called white...since my skin was actually beige in color. I then chuckled that I have to sweat in the smoldering heat trying to get darker so she was lucky...(attempting to break the ice). She backed down and then went to serve the client. She was polite and respectful from that day forward. If that had happened today-I do not know if it had gone as well. I believe that today it may have resulted in something much worse.
Has the social media, the schools, internet, and those seeking a socialist country creating this dysfunction of our culture? A construct and action appears to have been implemented and driven that will harm these that are driving this construct while also harm those who are being accused and attacked. Those who wish to be tolerated is creating more division and more intolerance as they impose and force their beliefs and hate upon the others. This weakens and violates self image due to the emotional boundaries that are violated due to this emotional immaturity, self focused action. Their need is not peacefully rendered through the appropriate channels and this destroys any amicable resolve.
As Counselors we then face a dilemma as to how to help restore a feeling of well being to our clients from either side of this spectrum as fear and hate collide. We cannot advise that one people should relinquish their core beliefs or way of life as we allow the other. When a family comes to us with a child who is aggressive; yelling cursing, hitting, kicking, stealing, using drugs, and is engaged in high risk sexual and other behaviors; as their complaints; while the parents are overwhelmed; wanting to find peace and to help their youth- the as a Counselor-we work with both entities to locate the root of the problem. With assessments we rule out disorders that may apply. With questions we locate enabling, negative peers, and other possible reasons for the behaviors. In treatment then we educate both of emotional boundaries that help each other to feel secure, safe, and accepted. We educate regarding physical boundaries that include one's body, tangible items, and proximity so as to respect property and personal space and to lower the emotional harm that is caused when physical boundaries are crossed. We educate regarding social boundaries of multiple forums and encourage the resolve to abide within those rules, expectations, and norms of each forum as we mindfully safeguard the physical and emotional boundaries of each person represented.
Further we provide insight as to the distortions of thoughts and how these drive negative feelings-while working with our clients to correct their faulty thinking and focus on options and solutions that are better advised. We help with coping tools to calm and to change one's course. We listen with a empathetic ear and a heart of concern; and teach this. We challenge and we hold accountable both parents, and children-to respect each other and to not enable each other. We advise for parents to not give so many warnings and to instead be quick with the consequence and also to allow for natural consequences when bad choices are made-so a to allow the child(ren) to understand that their choices own their consequences. Only then will the family work through their issues.
Society is a larger family to consider. Each have needs and wants, beliefs, thoughts, and must coexist even though each are different-as we locate a common ground to interact within; which must include the same boundaries and a set of rules with a set of benefits for those who abide within-and a set of consequences for those who chooses to not abide with the rules. Each must comprehend that they simply cannot violate any other's boundaries overtly without consequences across the board-equally to every living person for this construct of tolerance to have hope in working. As long as tolerance is one sided-and only observed with that one side-yet is withheld and is violated for the people who are on a different side-then peace and tolerance is an unreachable construct; since this depicts intolerance.
If either person of either side enter a counselor's office and wants a fix for this-then please understand that we can only point our clients back to the needed boundaries that must apply across the board to all people, identify the thought distortions driving the fear and hate, provide some coping tools to aid when one is upset and angry so as to be less reactive and more responsive with a mindful resolve; and the encouragement to cease possible enabling behaviors that may be triggering faulty thoughts, negative feelings, and aggressive or self destructive behaviors. Any resource that is advising any to feel that they have the right to violate these principals will in fact be harming people of both sides of the spectrum; drive division, and increase dysfunction within the Society, Culture, and People. Manipulation, violence, force, abuse, defense mechanisms that are intended to control any other person- is not the answer and is not right-no matter what society or the culture says.