I’ve been part of various groups, retreats and workshops. I’ve noticed an overriding theme that is consistent. There is a culture of emotional safety, growth and accountability to each other.
In these groups, emotional safety is created through non-judgmental listening of others and the modelling of vulnerability by the leaders. Acceptance is high and judgment is low. It allows people to be honest and open up about their challenges and real wants/needs.
Growth only really happens after emotional safety is present. When a person feels safe and heard she can then move to considering new possibilities. She will also be more open to suggestions and help from others in the group… who may challenge her to see what is possible for her.
Accountability from a group helps people stay on track and focused. The very presence of someone caring about and watching you is profound.
But let’s say someone fails and comes up short. What happens then. How do these supportive and inspiring groups respond. We start again, we listen and support. We help them build skills, start small, get wins, be consistent, stay focused.
The core here is always love and respect. The tone is alway belief instead of doubt, no matter the challenge.
We don’t talk down to a person who needs help. We don’t get angry and blame. We don’t isolate or judge. We don’t send him into time out or take away his phone. It the quite the opposite. We surround the people who need help and hold them close. We remind them that they are loved and supported. We collect the member back into the fold and work WITH them.
This is the power of transformational support groups. Non-judgment, ownership, positivity, and consistency. People usually already have enough shame and doubt, they don’t need more… they need the opposite. This is the key to growth and positive behavior change. It has been proven out over and over again in many different groups. This is the best way. We know this!
So. Can we recreate this at home?
Can we mimic the energy, processes and leadership that these supportive and inspiring groups have at home?
If our children experience difficulty or exhibit problem behavior, how then should we deal with them? Where do threats, punishments and even rewards come into play? How do they honestly contribute to authentic and sustainable growth or behavior change for the good?
If it were an adult in a support group, we would see the problem behavior, and yet fully accept the person. In these groups people find safe places to be accepted, and it feels good. I wonder why it finally feels so good?
In supportive environments, our “bad” behaviors don’t disqualify us from being loved. In fact, we see someone struggling, and love them even more. Could it be that this unconditional love is the secret sauce to positive behavior change? Does unconditional acceptance allow people to love themselves enough so that they can move in the right direction. Could unconditional support allow individuals to no longer feel paralyzed by the fear of failing and being rejected because there is always support to fall back on?
Threats, coercion, rewards and punishments are not love, surely not unconditional love. We would not do this to a contemporary in a group of equals. It’s begs the question how much we should be doing it with our own kids.
What would be possible in your home if you approached your children with the same radical kind of acceptance and positive consistency that has been proven to yield such dramatic results elsewhere? Could you see the behavior, yet fully accept the child? Could you approach parenting in this way?
The reason why people join these supportive and inspiring groups I believe is because they are looking for a fully accepting family. Let’s give this to our own kids as well.
Are you willing to try?