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Counter Narratives to Extremism and Well Being

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In light of the most recent acts or terrorism in Europe and the proliferation of hate and extremism what is needed is a way of helping young people to build the confidence and understanding to turn their back on violent extremism. To know and understand the emotional drives that attracts a young person to radicalism is an important step to steering them away. We need to recognise when somebody maybe at risk of going down a path and start having conversations which are open and frank. When faced with grief and sadness and pointless loss of life we have a choice turn inwards in despair or move outwards into the arms of others in the spirit of hope. There are young men and women out there that can be reached through positive narratives and prevented from carrying out further atrocities like we have seen in Brussels, Nice and Berlin. Extremist groups justify violence and sow the seeds of division and this is critical to their success in promoting hate and terrorism. We need counter- narratives to combat such hateful and ethnocentric thinking. Young people spend increasing time on online and extremists use social media to recruit and brainwash.
If we are not prepared to develop effective counter-narratives and to reach out to parents, teachers, the community and individuals who are likely to be passive recipients of hate messages, we are likely to see more acts of violence. It is up to all of us to engage in the fight against terrorism. But you may say; what can I do? I am not in contact with anyone who has such views? The fact is if you do not engage with the issue and develop your counter narrative then in fact you are contributing to the problem. A counter narrative is like a well that you can draw upon whether at a dinner invitation, a work coffee break, on social media, on public transport or in any social situation. It becomes a social discourse that like a pebble in the lake it ripples through society. What is your counter-narrative? And what would an audience gain from your counter-narrative? Do you want to simply reiterate the media's simplistic terms or would you like to promote critical and reflective thinking or challenge stereotypes and prejudicial behaviour towards other religions and races? Would you like to highlight the pointlessness and hypocrisy of extremist groups?

Develop your Counter- Narrative here

Young adults face many challenges (they may not see their problems as challenges but hopeless and negative states) and require skills and a philosophy in life to allow them deal positively with finding their way in the world. Modern society has prioritised independence to such as extent that we are left to manage our lives in a world that is increasingly out of our control. It is time to remove our heads from the sand and enter into dialogue with each other. We need to let our children know we have insecurities and vulnerabilities and how we deal with them and to consider the issue of well being and how we can attempt to achieve it.

According to Richard Davidson well being is a skill that can be learned like learning any skill. For him well-being has four constituents rooted in neural circuits, and each of these are malleable��� and can be strengthened. When young people are given the skills to develop their brain circuits they have the capacity to promote higher levels of well-being in their lives. Davidson's four constituents are outlook- ability to maintain a positive state, resilience- the ability to recover from a negative state, generosity- the ability to be generous and attention- the ability to focus and avoid mind wandering.��_/the_four_keys_to_well_bei��_

Richard J. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, and Founder and Chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain and The Mind�۪s Own Physician. He blogs at

CP Crean, Tutor- ARLT Foundation
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