I recently read about an African tribe that does the most beautiful thing when dealing with crime or when someone has done something hurtful and wrong.
What they do is …
… they take the person to the center of town and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the person every good thing he has ever done.
The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. And each of us fashioned to do good. But sometimes in the pursuit of those things and needs people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help. So they band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true nature and to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected.
Positive psychology would say the same – that everyone acts with the highest intentions. It’s just that the actions in pursuit of that need or want (which are good needs or wants eg attention, to be loved etc) aren’t always good. But of course, we don’t need modern and ‘advanced’ positive psychology to teach us that. We just need an African tribe.
There’s a lesson in this … see the good in people. Speak to the goodness in them. See the best in them even when they can’t yet see it themselves. Remind them positively of their capacity to do good and be great, not their capacity to do wrong, do evil or make mistakes. People will respond far better to this approach.