Transform Pain by Kaze Gadway. 1st in Life Skills for Native Youth

Richard Rohr “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion. It is no surprise that a crucified man became the central symbol of

     Too many times I have met with Native youth or young adults who have attempted suicide while incarcerated.

     It’s about pain.

     Recently I read an article by Dr. Shawn T. Smith. “The person considering suicide may mistakenly perceive suicide as the only thing that will end pain”

     This resonates with me.

     Youth grow into emotional maturity. While they are growing, they often experience events as the best thing or the worst thing that has ever happened to them. They gain the understanding that not only can events change but your emotional response to them can also change.

     If there is constant drama of violence and belittling (at home or school), some youth do not believe that their anguish will ever go away. Some try cutting themselves to give themselves another pain they can control. Or they react in violence, again to control the hurt within. Some withdraw and become determined to never let anything hurt them again. And some try to off themselves.

     One of the skills we teach is to ask “what works?”

     At a Native youth leadership we practice on ourselves. One young person talks about running away from home when a drunken relative starts choking him and banging his head against the wall.
As we have practiced, the designated leader begins with acknowledging the suffering.

     “That sucks big time,” he says. “I don’t know how you have stood it for so long.”

     He then puts it on a continuum of suffering. “Is it more about being put down or something like an ache that eats you from the inside?

     The runaway considers this and finally says “It’s like I can’t run fast enough to get away.”

     The leader then goes to the next level. “What works with you when it all gets too much? What do you turn to?”

     “I guess playing my guitar,” he says. “It helps me to forget, especially when I am learning a new skill.”
          That ended our practice session. I ask them to reflect on pain management.

     One young adult sums it up. “I like that we ask what is already working with them rather than offering advice on what they should do. This gives them control as well as reminding them that there is a way out.”

     That’s the skill. It is learning how to reach inside yourself for the resources are always there.

     May be all remember this.

In faith,




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