Martín Luther King Jr. said, "At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love." The Sutras herald a similar concept. The tenant ahimsa states: “in the presence of one firmly established in nonviolence, all hostilities cease.”
Who is that “one” firmly established in non-violence, so that all hostilities cease?
Some embody this non-violence in their eating habits by converting to vegetarianism or veganism. However, even in the midst of our most valiant efforts, one fundamental practice of non-violence is all too often overlooked: non-violence to the self -- a commitment to the self, to do no harm.
How many times a day, an hour, are you self-critical?
In modern society, self-criticism is a rampant form of self-talk and “self-management.” Many of us believe that self-criticism is necessary for self-growth and that it is how we learn from mistakes and how we succeed.
And you know what? It’s one that I personally ascribed to for a long time, and am, to this day, working to break. For years, I believed that the criticism was the way to growth, and that without it, I’d flounder. Whether in the classroom, by parents (not just our own), or by first bosses, many grow up being criticized with the justification that it is for our own benefit.
Ultimately, that generates merely more criticism. It establishes degradation as the modality for success. Though an extreme, it is held that 30% of children who are physically abused continue the cycle, because that is what they are taught, that is how they “learned.”
Ghandi said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
As human beings, we make mistakes every day. We say the wrong thing and we don’t always perform to our highest expectations. However, rather than admit, acknowledge and move on, we berate, chastise and degrade.
This past year in my work as a life coach, I’ve gained vast insight into the value of a different approach: championing successes. It is not to say that we ignore our failures and mistakes. Instead we look at our nonsuccesses with curiosity and intrigue. What didn’t work? How was it that the conversation, the event or sale did not go as expected? And equally important – what worked?? What was successful? With such an approach I often find that when I can get clients (and myself) to step outside of the criticism and look at it with a “critical” eye, a wealth of information and growth is gained.
What I’ve come to realize is this: that for most evolved human beings, for those who truly want and are willing to do more in life, when they dare treat themselves with kindness, their success is larger than they could have otherwise envisioned.
So how would it be to treat yourself with compassion and true kindness? What would be the immediate effect, and the domino effect? With time, whether you are the next president or the next tech guru, a mother of two or single hard-working member of society, how might continued, embodied, non-violence encourage peace, so that in your presence, all hostilities cease?
Cool concept, no?
With love and light,
Rachel (to receive these weekly in your inbox, subscribe below!)