|MLK Faith Is Taking the First Step|
I have blogged a lot about the things that affect me – and I am sure they affect you, too. Like the killings of Black people by the police and other authorities. And The Calais Jungle. And the history of the Freedom Riders. And I have blogged about the fact that Black women cancer patients are often denied the care they need.
For some of my recent blog posts, see the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016.
As I have asked bloggers to submit blogs that are personal, I want to share with you some of my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences.
As I said in Violence Begins at Home, this work begins with the self. We all want other people to change, but in order to achieve that, we first need to change ourselves.
I use many different personal development methods in my work and in my life. The one method that has affected me the most is Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For more about NVC, see 8 Books about NVC and my interviews with NVC authors.
My biggest problem has probably always been my low self-esteem, which I could also characterize as self-hatred. I taught courses in Building Self-Esteem and Confidence for many years.
The way we talk about ourselves, to ourselves, is a central feature in our self-esteem. We use language that undermines our confidence. We use jackal language (blaming, judging labelling) to ourselves, about ourselves. We learn lessons such as feeling “not good enough” very early in life, and in consequence, we put ourselves down. Often, we learn to put ourselves down before someone else has the chance to do it. I have seen this tendency in myself and in many of my students. I am usually unaware of it – it's a tendency that is unconscious.
When I was doing a lot of NVC, I found that my self-talk changed. The way I talked to myself became more positive. I didn't plan for this or expect it, it just happened.
I have agoraphobia, one symptom of which is that I find it difficullt to cross the street. I have to wait until I feel comfortable, until there is not too much traffic, and so forth. I could be giving myself positive, encouraging messages in this context.
But one day, as I was waiting for the lights to change, I heard a voice in my head saying you're so STUPID!!! Over and over again. I was shocked, but I'm sure these are the types of messages I am giving myself all the time.
This is just an example of the kind of self-talk that undermines our self-esteem and conidence. When we are harsh with ourselves, we tend to be harsh towards others as well. As Marshall Rosenberg explained in Nonviolent Communication, we can use jackal language towards ourselves or towards others.
When we have jackal thoughts towards ourselves, we tend to project these kinds of thoughts and attitudes towards others. This can, and often does, lead to conflict.
When I became kinder in my self-talk, others saw and commented on how different I was in my interactions with others. I wish I had known about NVC when I was teaching.
I am very keen that more and more of us learn NVC. This will transform our our lives, our worplaces and our communities and will, eventually, transform the world. Transformation begins at home.