After 50 years I have finally come to realize that no amount of self-criticism, deprivation and self-sacrifice will help me to achieve the things I long for. In fact, what I have discovered was all that constant negative talk and punishment actually makes me rebel and do the opposite despite the good intentions.
Let’s take weight loss; no matter how much I call myself fat and lazy that doesn’t make me put the fork down and motivate me to put on my running shoes. No matter how many times I beat myself up for not managing my time better; it doesn’t help me find my to-do list at the end of the day all checked off.
And as for my teens, all the punishments, and privileges I’ve taken away hasn’t helped them keep a cleaner room, completely follow through on their laundry and learn to take their cleats off in the garage.
So what is the answer? I recently heard a spiritual teacher speak of loving ourselves through change and growth. What a novel idea!
What does this look like? I am sure you are asking. It looks like practicing “unconditional love.” And the practice begins with one’s self.
Someone once shared this example: When a baby is just learning to walk and they fall a lot, you would never look at that child and place an “L” on your forehead and call them a loser, right? Yet when we fail, who is the first to berate you? Yes, our very own self.
I invite you to read about how the members of the Babemba tribe in Africa inspire their people to be the best version of themselves, not by criticizing and condemning them when they fail, but by loving them through it.
This new inspiring approach has changed my life!
The Babemba tribe of Africa believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness.
But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.
When a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he/she is placed in the center of the village, alone, unfettered. All work ceases. All gather around the accused individual. Then each person of every age, begins to talk out loud to the accused. One at a time, each person tells all the good things the one in the center ever did in his/her lifetime.
Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length.
The tribal ceremony often lasts several days, not ceasing until everyone is drained of every positive comment that can be mustered. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe. Necessity for such ceremonies is rare!
This story is originally from the book, Contact, The First Four Minutes by Leonard Sunin. The Babemba or Bemba people make their home in an area of Africa that includes Zambia and the Congo. Another source: http://tinyurl.com/nt5xydr
Photo by Jessica Hilltout.