“When you pick up a stick, you pick up both ends.”

These words echo in my mind to this day. I grew up with my dad saying this to me and my sister frequently. This one statement was his way of reminding us that every single thing we did carried with it either a constructive or a destructive consequence. 

He recognized that mistakes are part of human nature. We will all make mistakes from time to time no matter how hard we try not to. While some mistakes certainly have a greater cost to them, most of the time we can redirect our attention from what happened to what we learned in the process. 

Now, as a parent of two young children, I am learning a lot about the more subtle side of navigating discipline and mistakes in a constructive way. I believe that every family has to do what’s right for them and I am certainly no parenting expert, but I will share that in our home we focus more on reframing and redirecting as opposed to strict punishment. 

Where you shine the light matters. When we make mistakes, the general tendency can be to shine a light on the negative behavior and to react in harsh ways, but what would happen if we celebrated the goodness within instead? What would that do for ourselves? Our family? Our society? 

I heard once of a tribal culture that does precisely this. Rather than punishment and scolding, this particular tribe spends a couple of days building the individual up and reminding them of their inherent goodness. They remind them that they are cherished and important. They remind them despite their mistakes, they have done good things and they are good. They build them up rather than tear them down.

Where you shine the light matters. 

This raises the question of how do we become reacquainted and reconnected to the goodness that is already present within us, especially when we make a mistake? 

Build a Community that Builds You Up

The people you choose to surround yourself with will have an impact on not only how you see yourself, but also who you become. It is critical that you have people in your inner circle that remind you of your own goodness when you can’t see it for yourself. Likewise, be that person for someone else. 

Celebrating Throughout the Day

It is easy to get distracted by all the problems, perceived or real, but if you take the time throughout the day to firmly anchor into the good moments as they occur they will hold you steady in the face of adversity.

Loving Kindness

Loving Kindness is a type of meditation that is one of my favorite tools for increasing connection, acceptance, and forgiveness. It isn’t meditation in the traditional sense. Instead, this type of practice focuses on fostering a deep and tender sense of compassion towards yourself and others, and one of the most beautiful things about loving kindness is that nobody gets hurt in the process. To practice loving kindness, find a quiet space and sit in a comfortable posture. You want to be at ease in body and mind so that you can drop into a feeling of inner warmth and compassion. Once you have found your space and position, simply repeat a phrase to yourself such as, “May I give and receive compassion today.” Allow whatever phrase you choose to resonate in your mind and body for a few minutes. The more you do this type of practice, the more second nature it becomes. 

“Let your light shine as an inspiration to humanity and be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.”  Germany Kent