In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss a controversial topic – the lessons we can learn from the tragic killings of three women in a US gym.
First a quick update:
“Your controversial comments”
Last week I wrote about the principle of letting go of one’s ego – the need to be right (“Why do you always need to be right?”) I was not, though, endorsing that you allow people to walk all over you, nor was I saying that you should not stand-up for your beliefs and causes. The key principle is to seek happiness and peace over vindication, and, ask yourself when you are about to argue over a topic “How important is this?” if it’s not important or critical, let it go. Add your comments here.
Now, let’s talk about the lessons from last week’s horrific mass killing in a gym.
On August 4, 2009, George Sodini, 48, entered a fitness club in Pennsylvania, USA. He walked into an aerobics class, turned off the lights and fired 52 rounds of bullets at the 20 occupants; he killed three women and injured nine others, before turning the gun on himself.
Sodini left behind a lot of information about his life and motives in the form of an online blog/diary, a note found at the gym and a couple of online videos. Read the entire text of his online blog/diary here.
His writings reveal a man that had hatred for the world. Sodini blamed everyone and found bad in everyone: his father, brother, mother, religion, church, right-wing people, and women. Sodini also claimed he had no one to help guide or counsel him, no one to tell him what he is doing wrong in his life. He hated women, religion and his life. He was jealous of young people and felt his situation was totally hopeless.
Sodini said his father was useless, never talked to him and they never had a real relationship; he said his brother was a bully and his mother, a vicious, vindictive woman who was into “a power and control thing.” Sodini believed religion had done the most damage to him and had controlled him for 13 years via guilt and fear. Sodini claimed he couldn’t find answers anywhere as to what was wrong with him and why women didn’t want anything to do with him. He openly recognized that he had a problem and that money wouldn’t solve it:
“I like to write and talk. Ironic because I haven’t met anybody recently (past 30 years) who I want to be close friends with OR who want to be close friends with me. I was always open to suggestions to what I am doing wrong, no brother or father (mine are useless) or close friend to nudge me and give it bluntly yet tactfully wtf I am doing wrong. A personal coach or someone who knows what he is doing would be perfect. Money is highly secondary for a solution…”
Sodini, it seemed was even looking for a moral compass but couldn’t find it – not even in his former church with chilling and ironic comments by Sodini:
“Be Ye Holy, even as I have been Ye holy! Thus saith the lord thy God!” as pastor Rick Knapp would proclaim. Holy —-, religion is a waste. But this guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven.”
What most people have missed here, particularly the media in its reporting, is that Sodini felt that he was a victim, believed nothing would ever get better, felt he had no reason to live and, above all, he had no family of his own. If Sodini had a family, he might have learned to give love, protect and serve someone else rather than become wholly absorbed with himself.
Most of the media focused on Sodini’s hatred for women (a projection of his hatred for his mother) but he also hated his brother, sister, father, former Church Pastor, and even one of the church goers, Andy, whom Sodini described as a hypocritical idiot:
“How can someone be cold, vicious, sarcastic and generally nasty ALL THE TIME and then make the claim about their church life and how good they are?”
Sodini couldn’t see the good in anyone or anything – he even made racial slurs on his blog.
Sodini did try to make an effort to learn about dating and attended a seminar but it seems that program did not focus on the truly significant elements of dating and relationships such as values, character, behavior, morality, forgiveness, service to others, real emotional connection, etc. No, the dating workshop Sodini participated in was typically focused on the external points: how to dress, what tie to wear and how to decorate your house to appeal to a young woman.
So what are the key lessons that we can learn from this tragedy.
First, Sodini felt like a victim but he wasn’t and he eventually became a narcissist who believed that he was entitled to take other people’s lives because he was angry and hated his life.
Second, during a radio interview I gave, I said that this is partially an indictment on a society where we ignore people as we rush about our everyday life. We say “Hi, What’s up? How are you?” but never stop to listen to the answer and we rarely show sincere concern for or interest in other people; we are so busy texting, emailing, twittering and facebook-messaging people who we usually only know by name and photo but almost never by experience or meaningful interaction. (Listen to the radio interview visit to GymKillers)
Third, we have become obsessed with the exterior, the external, the vanity. Sodini’s dating guru wrote books for men over 35 on how to date younger women and was quoted as saying women over 30 are “bitter.” And that was the topic of the workshop Sodini attended – picking up younger women.
Fourth, as Depeche Mode said in their song, “everything counts in large amounts.” Sodini’s life and the subsequent tragedy were the result of lots of small seemingly unrelated incidents, experiences and aspects of Sodini’s life:
No close connection to family; no family of his own, no children to raise; no love or friendships, no meaningful connections to other human beings, no meaning or purpose in life, no desire to serve others, no guidance, no belief in anything other than self-gratification, isolation, no hope, no physical connection with a woman (in over 20 years) and; rejection, resentment and hatred of one person after another.
The above list is our list of lessons – the things for which we need to watch out, and to ensure that we do the opposite in our lives. And for whatever reason, Sodini never learned, or possibly was never taught, the lessons of love, forgiveness and compassion for all of the people in his life – including his mother, father, brother, sister. And he was never taught how to take responsibility for his life and his results.
It’s never too late to change!
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.