- Mental Health
Teen Female Inmates | Victim of a Genetic Makeup?
What Would You Tell Them?
If you were given five minutes to speak to a group of female teenager inmates—five minutes, to give them a piece of information compelling enough to transform the perception of their lives in that instant!— what would you tell them?
What is it that could really motivate them to realize their potential? Knowledge! The knowledge of Human behavior, self-knowledge, empowerment and understanding mind over matter... communicated in a layman's words.
A misunderstood and ingrained belief these young girls have, among other ones, is the belief that chances for them to live a "normal life," to experience a safe relationship, and be respected are rather slim or non-existent because of their genes. They believe that the fate of their life —past, present and future— is directly connected to the genetic makeup of their biological parents. In their world, they think they are predetermined to follow the footsteps of their dysfunctional biological parents, and they are afraid of it. Even if they deny it.
This fear of genes...
"Everything you want is on the other side of FEAR"
Teen female inmates and young female adults who grew up in a "city street” type of environment, are too often reminded, that their genes are responsible for their attitude, their perceptions, emotional reactions, and that nothing good will ever come out of them. These environments condition them to believe this, for what they see and hear is what they believe. The lack of access to knowledge is keeping them trapped in a limited reality.
In a recent article I wrote on Genes vs Environment, I referred to a published research in cellular biology. It confirms that 95% of the population is born with perfect genes (DNA), while less than 5% of the population is born with a genetic defect. Common genetic disorders in less than this 5% are of the likes of down syndrome, color blindness, autism, cystic fibrosis, only to name a few. In the light of this research, therefore, the genetic makeup has nothing to do with their behavior.
The Common Belief They Are Less Smart
Contrary to the common belief, in this day and age of high-speed access to information, internet, and computer technology, female teen inmates are much more capable of understanding and assimilating teachings on human behavior, the power of thoughts over matter, or the biology of new perceptions than we give them credit for. This is a topic that would stimulate their curiosity and engage them; catch their attention.
This generation whether inmates or not has a much higher level of awareness and capacity to understand more sophisticated information. They are way underestimated on that level. Their sense to intuit is keen. This is a skill that is enhanced under survival conditions. They can read people well enough, and these "bearings" are spinning all the time. They only know this "dark" side of them, I think it's time to lift some myths, and provide them a much deeper level of information on the human aspect of life. Will it save them? That's their job.
The Five-Minute Awareness
If I were given these five minutes, this is the piece of information — from my perspective — I would choose to give them.
"The genes of their biological parents have absolutely no impact or influence over them, over their behavior, choices, or the life they live or dream of living. It never had. The type of environment they are surrounded by and their understanding of it will pull the strings of their life, just like a puppet. With knowledge and understanding of it, their mindset can be transformed, no matter of how desolate this environment looks or feels to them; this too will change."
The power to trigger a change in their perception rests in their understanding of the "why and how" their genetic makeup has no power in determining their destiny.
During my teen years up to my late 20s, I was often reminded of my "bad" genes, and that nothing would ever come out of my life. Inspiring, isn't it? I believed it and was silently concerned about it. "Silence" ... the favorite mode of communication of teen inmates or dysfunctional par excellence! I can relate to that style too. Looking back, I do laugh about it now.
Reminder for my readers: I have never been in jail or incarcerated in a prison. Nevertheless, it was all around me, people I hang around with, and too close for my safety. I was trapped in my own "prisons" and this was not because of missing school, it was a lack of an essential knowledge that will make you rise above the "dirt" and shine.
Words like "No surprise there, it's in the genes of her family; like mother, like daughter," and all the different versions of it, version we hear straight from the mouth of our family members, neighbors, best friends, strangers, and teachers — whenever it is we remember we still go to school. Who can be more convincing than our parents on the topic of their genes? Our parents, after all, it's their genes. So, we believed it, we don't like to hear it, but we believe it.
My Interview at the City Jail
Two years ago I was interviewed by the Chaplain of a city jail. There was a genuine interest in the spiritual aspect of the programs I had to offer to their teen female inmates. Their interest was in the progressive integration of a life-coaching spiritual program. I was to work under the supervision of the Chaplain.
Before my interview, I was required to join a group and attend a class called "Fundamentals of Working in a Jail" which was given on site. Thinking about it, in retrospect, I am wondering if this might be a test before the interview to see if I would change my mind. No, seriously, I was just playing funny. It was not the case at all.
This was a very interesting class I will not forget, and would take it again anytime.
As a group, we had the opportunity to walk into a young female class in process. As I observed their facial expression, body language, and the inner silence of their repressed bitterness and anger, I understood their lack of interest. A mirror reflecting the loss of a sense of hope, the conviction of being a misfit, an outlaw. A mirror reflecting back to me a past long gone, where I was also lost between "I'm not good enough" and "I know I'm right."
In this moment, I came to realize that, where I stood, was the perfect environment where the knowledge I had gained from studying, learning, and implementing life transformation strategies and principles for more than 20 years, would best serve. This could trigger a change in people who would really benefit from it.
These "sweet and bitter" girls brought a "smile to my eyes." The memory of my own emotional struggles, temper tantrums, self-righteousness, fears, and drop the kitchen sink in it, played like an old black and white movie no longer real, understood, and integrated.
Talk about holding a Degree in Stubbornness and Grudge and under these living conditions. However, on the other side of this reactive attitude hide gifts that would serve them to climb the ladder of a fulfilling life. Again, not to repeat myself, with the exception of never being incarcerated, the emotional turmoil of these young girls, the neglect, isolation, and the anger inflamed and magnified from the challenging surviving conditions have been mine too. Only the story and names were different.
The outcome of life transforming knowledge and its implementation provided me a new life that I never thought was possible. As my perceptions changed, my environment changed with them. My Faith was rekindled, empowered and strengthened to a level that It's interaction could not be denied.
Knowledge has the power to ignite the will power we need to take an action. It can rehash our personal convictions and views leading us into a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
We remember that as a life coach, life transformer, public speaker, teacher, or simply communicator, it's not necessary that what is said will make a difference, but how we say it.
On My Road to Damascus...
There are times in our life when we will read, hear, or have this insight that will turn our life around. It awakens a willpower that pulls us into the next chapter of our life.
What deeply inspired me to write this article is the published research on my topic by Dr. Bruce Lipton, leading authority in cellular biology. This "revelation" awakened the belief that I could be more and aim higher that what I thought of myself. As I read his material on genes vs environment, the teenager female inmates came to my mind. I knew this information would best serve them. When you understand that there is nothing in your blood that was transferred by your parents causing all the pain and trouble, it will lift some fears of being doomed for less than you deserve.
Seriously, imagine a 17 year old female going home every day to a mother who served time and a father drunk half the time. She believes the fate of her future is completely at the mercy of her genes, and she believes it. As the saying goes, "If you believe in something to be true, feel it, and act like it ... you got it." Yes, there are a lot more things to tell them besides the gene issue, however, this is where to start before anything else. Because no matter what you want to teach them, if they believed they are doomed by their genes, what could inspire them to listen and to aim higher?
It would be interesting to see the results of a survey presented to them including questions on this topic. This belief they have contributes in reinforcing their low self-confidence and self-esteem. Did I miss lying and manipulating as defense mechanisms?
There is a real potential in each one of them calling to be expressed. There is also a constant inner struggle between what they believe they are, and what their future might hold for them. There is no question how beneficial this information would be for them.
The best place to provide them with this information would be inside a structured environment where they feel safe. Therefore, while they are in jail or in prison. I would relish the opportunity to work alongside a group of them. In me, is a version of their life from a past long gone. This version, not to be negated, is now part of my book of wisdom, always ready to be contributed in an empowering style of communication, that could impact somebody’s life.
Three Prisons - One Body
A few pointers to share with you before closing on my article. If we stop to think about it, our teenager female inmates live in three prisons.
- The prison of their mind where their beliefs, opinions, and perceptions rule and dictate;
- The prison where they serve time, making them feel confined from a valuable and essential structured lifestyle, which over time, they get to appreciate;
- The prison of their former environment to which they will return (family, "hood," school, and friends), believing this is where they belong because this is who they are.
Why not providing them with knowledge that has a strong potential to change their thinking, their perception, in a way that, they can now "think" their way to a meaningful lifestyle?
The way I see it, if we don't believe this knowledge could have the potential to impact their lives, to change their perception, then, we gave up on our teen female inmates.
At the end of the day, when the sun goes down, they don't need more mathematics, more English grammar, or geography than what is required at their age. It's time for a program that will teach and expose them to the power of thoughts, affirmative prayers, the body biology of perception and change. A program inspiring them to begin a quest that will guide them to their full latent potential.
I invite you to watch this video, read this article again, and share your thoughts with me.
"Knowledge is power and self-knowledge is more power for the self."
© 2014 Louise Grogan