Empowering the youth

Hey everybody!

I joined Integral Life earlier this evening and it’s absolutely something I wish to become more involved with. I discovered Ken Wilber and the Integral Theory through my psychologist after dealing with PTSD symptoms for years. I tried many different therapies and medication and nothing quite worked. I was brought up Catholic and just went through the initiation sacraments with no second thought. I wasn’t very spiritual, but I had a plethora of questions. I was a “why” kid for sure, but my questions were always met with answers similarly to, “because that’s the way it is”. I hated elementary and high school, I learned much more on my own by doing my own research and trying to answer my own questions. I started taking psychedelics due to being depressed and getting fed up with life as it was, but then I experienced what one could call an awakening. I began meditating and connecting with myself on levels I had never before reached. I had begun the healing process finally, and all it took was beginning to empower myself, not a pill or a therapy. The therapy helps me to stay on this path, but it started with me. I’m 18 years old, but I feel that this is something that could’ve been solved a long time ago. So now that I have all that off my chest, I’d like to bring up a conversation topic. Why is it that so much of today’s youth follows the crowd? Why are there so many that feel unmotivated, insecure and depressed? And hypothetically what actions do we take to help empower our youth? How do we prioritize healthy upbringings at homes, schools and society? And how do we stop the trend of needing to heal, and help propel our youth to having lives that are more pure from the start?


Hi there and welcome to Integral!
This is a great question which people of my age are asking themselves a lot. I think, much has to do with the parents, and yes, also grandparents, who have expectations on the kids which push them into a tight up state and often into a victimised egocentric behavior where it is very difficukt for them to find true meaning in life. Hence the depressions, suicides, all sorts of unhealthy behavior.

You are really unique and courageous and strong to have been able to do the steps yourself and take your life into your hands. Congrats! This is truly something.

We elder people in integral could play a “grandparents-to borrow” role for the young folks, from a mature standpoint. So they have somewhere to go and ask. Just like you are doing here!


Thanks for the reply!

Well put! I believe that these issues stem most often from the relationships with biological family. When you said “grandparents-to-borrow”, what popped in my head were mentorship programs, which are common around the country already. Maybe, if there was more of a priority on helping kids find a mentor in place of a missing parent/grandparent, people could have more stable upbringings and foundations to fall back on. If the community in general was more involved, people wanting to mentor and people wanting to be mentored, it would overall bring much more connection.

Thank you for what you said about me, things like this validate my experience and motivate me to stick to my path. I wish more of the elder people in the world could be as open as you are, I appreciate you hearing me out and taking the time to respond to me.

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Welcome @nctaylor23. I think there is a certain “following the crowd” that is inevitable at about that age. I call it the “jumping through the hoops” stage. We all have to learn to follow certain social rules (traffic lights and such).
While I have read some information that suggests perhaps an increase in anxiety related issues has to do with social media or how the most recent generation was raised, speaking from personal experience, this is also around the time that existential questions pop up. My own two cents is that without a strong spiritual cultural foundation it is very likely that those wanting answers for these questions will feel lost.
As far as empowering youth, I think there are a few different ways we could tackle what “empowering” means. I would advocate for continuing to be integrally informed and develop an ITP (integral transformational program).
Regarding the last two questions, I don’t have answers for those. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the welcome!

I would absolutely agree with you on the “jumping through the hoops” stage. Social media may be part of what keeps most of this recent generation stuck, but I believe the root cause(s) is (are) much deeper. I believe in the Integral approach, and as I become more familiar with it I just wish to learn more. I think it may be unlikely, with the way things are, that the masses will become familiar with the Integral approach. I think the big problem is the severed connection with spirit. Humans aren’t meant to spend this much time away and disconnected from nature. People like us just have to try to plant the little seeds of wisdom that we can within those around us!

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@nctaylor23 I wouldn’t worry about the masses, just take care of you at this stage of your life. :slight_smile:

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Hi Nick,

I love your post and can feel the strength of your willingness to be a change agent for your generation / cohort. I think you are correct to realize that Integral theory will be a supportive structure to help answer the questions you are looking at right now. I also think you have already correctly identified a few things that would make a big difference if more broadly accepted as normal. Your pointing to mentoring for instance. So good news, your faculties are working great and you’ve found some theory content and friends to support your continuous development!

Ken coined the AQAL label to help new people remember that we must examine everything from the all quadrants, all levels and lines perspective. Allow me to be so bold as to try to use your introduction to point out the AQAL analysis style. You popped out of your previous self. You had an Awakening and connected to new levels of yourself. That pop (realization / transcending while including) was interior singular (your upper left quadrant) growth. Now your new self is alive with a desire for all beings to be more alive and free. That would look like a culture that shared your new perspective (lower left quadrant). You are looking around at your generation with concern for their interiors (a higher level of care is alive – a psycho-social line of development advancement). You are also looking at a system that might support that, mentoring. A system is external plural (lower right quadrant). A system of mentoring is a line of skills development. No one is qualified to mentor at all levels or for all skills. Everyone is both a teacher and a student. Age or generation is not a good measure of who can mentor for any particular need.

The situation now is to control your attention (upper left quadrant). As in meditation, return and return to calm emptiness, wisdom, care, clarity, possibility, and all of the qualities that brought you to the person that could write that introduction. Stay future focused. Stay alive to bringing the possibilities you see into substantiated forms. Forgive the state of everything. It is, in fact, the way it is. But it is not fixed and never was and never will be. It is better or worse in some places than others. Pledge to be a part of improving everything.

Controlling attention is the hardest task. It is almost impossible not to look back with judgment and regret at your own life, or the larger life of humanity, or at God and creation itself. That capacity for judgment and regret is hardwired in the nervous system (upper right quadrant) and therefore it impacts perceptions. You have now experienced that the hard wiring can be overridden and seen through. Now the challenge will be to keep seeing through. You will need that brain and body (upper right quadrant) on this journey, but it is not always trustworthy to the Awakened path. The qualities that lifted your spirit and that sense of a deeper, interconnected self are trustworthy. Return your attention to these qualities for inspiration and guidance for actions.

The situation is also to pick some skills to master. Choose several domains, Realize that skills (upper left and upper right quadrants) are a more worthy possession than any tangible object or role. You are blessed to live in an unimagined time where almost all past knowledge and helpful teachers are literally in the palm of your hand (smartphone). Balance learning, sharing knowledge, and doing good works. Be the mentor and the mentee at alternating intervals.

Now let me look specifically at those questions:

  1. Why is it that so much of today’s youth follows the crowd? We are mammals and pack animals. Staying with the pack is safer. Learning and moving with the pack is safer. Hard wiring of hundreds of thousands of years (maybe millions). Creativity and breaking free has never been rewarded by the pack. Never will be.
  2. Why are there so many that feel unmotivated, insecure, depressed? Choice pollution. The opportunities are unlimited in a way that no generation before has ever imagined. This is a transition time for our species and the way forward is unclear because the choices are too broad. Also, many I assume stand in the recognition of the many awful human behaviors that have created a mess of the planet and that we are in an illogical conversation about how to address them. There are countless other individual circumstances that can lead any individual to the state you describe. It would be irresponsible to think these could be counted, labeled and addressed in some broad stroke fashion. Everyone needs to be cared about within the circumstances where they find themselves.
  3. What actions do we take to help empower our youth? Be an example of the next possibility of being human. Look for and advocate for people and programs that are doing good works. Look through the Integral perspective and realize that any instance of a human may be at any level of development in various lines of development and there are no one size fits all answers. That said, large movements exist today to become more aware and active in our experiment in self-governance (democracy), to gain more clarity on respectful action and speech (#metoo, being Woke, politically correct speech, climate crisis awareness…), and so on. Recognize these are the larger shifts in consciousness and cultural norms (lower left quadrant) that need more people to experience and align with. As your awareness deepens, work to translate (gross) and transmit (subtle) those experiences and realizations to others.
  4. How do we prioritize healthy upbringings at homes, schools, and society? Vote for Progressive politicians. The society moves our leaders and our leaders move our society. These actually are the priorities of American society, and Western culture in general (at least for the top 10% measured by financial wealth). It is over shadowed by a strong sense of individual autonomy and a perpetuation of bad behaviors and ideas that just no longer fit the world we live in. It is hampered by conservative political thought in countless ways that trap the blind into leading the blind.
  5. How do we stop the trend of needing to heal, and help propel our youth to having lives that are more pure from the start? Only a deep realization and escape from victimhood can override the slower path of healing from trauma and the chaos of the varied tyrannies that must be negotiated. Look for ways to be a part of both helping others with healing and championing the possibility of deeper realization. Every day, millions of babies are born. Most will never have any opportunity to see as clearly as you are seeing. Be grateful and humble. Allow the care you feel, the essence in you that asks this question to always give you hope and strength to be a part of solutions. There are partners out there. Keep asking questions and you will find them and take your place as a mentor and mentee in the Life project.

Thanks for inspiring me to think about your possibilities and to write these remarks.


Wow what an extraordinary response, thank you very much for this. I believe that we are in a time of transition, we need pioneers and leaders to step up from all walks of life. I think a lot of us who think integrally are and will be leaders for this new world. You have much knowledge on the Integral approach, do you have any areas of Integral Theory that you recommend I become more familiar with? Or areas of the approach that really captivated you and helped you along your journey? A lot of the things you are saying sound very similar to that which comes from my psychologist, the person who introduced me to Integral Theory. Centering myself and controlling my attention will help optimize the transmitting and translating of my experiences and realizations

Hi Nick,
I think my response was intended to answer your first question - Begin by understanding why Ken coined AQAL. Also, when you get his notion of “true, but only partial”, a lot of tension is released about true and false, right and wrong, and curiosity and compassion gain a stronger foothold in the way we process what we encounter.

This web site is a treasure trove of Integral thought and living, so consume content regularly. I think what Cory is doing and what Jeff Salzman and Keith Witt are doing is an amazing contribution. There are dozens, if not hundreds of hours, of content to consume.

One last thought: Any experience of clarity or Awakened awareness is a personal gift forever. Learn to ask what else that experience has to teach your consciousness. There will never be (or should never be) an 'OK , now I get it" final moment. Revisiting (contemplating deeply) the experience can always reveal more to you, no matter how many past revelations have happened. Metaphorically, it is like a compass in your pocket that can be consulted from any location.

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I’m just glad I’ve discovered Ken and Integral Theory this early on. I’ll continue to learn and absorb as much as I can. I appreciate your guidance, thanks so much for your time and for your responses to the thread