Conversations Around Racial Tension
Feb 12, 2021
I’m enjoying the sunshine coming out again in my neighborhood. I’m also enjoying having conversations with other people. Some of the people I’ve had conversations with have been really uncomfortable, and they’ve been uncomfortable because the conversations being had right now are about racism. What is racism, are you an anti-racist and what does that mean and what is held in it? This is something that hasn’t been looked at very closely in many conversations.
One of the things that I’m really passionate about is slowing down any conversation to get to the heart of it. To have compassionate understanding whether I agree with the other person or not. Or, whether they agree with me or not. To have a heart connection where there is an exploration and discovery experience collaboratively that is possible. Not everyone is comfortable having a conversation like that, however.
There are some people who are quite biased in their perception, and their perception, in their opinion, is the only way for anyone to perceive something. So that could be the hallmark of a difficult conversation, when someone feels that uptight about it. When they feel that rigid in their thinking that there is a lack of flexibility or adaptability.
On the other end of this spectrum you can have conversations with people that just want to agree with whatever you say. They are wishy-washy, without firm roots in their own values. They want to be included, and want to belong, and so they go with the flow of whatever is happening in their environment.
I like to be somewhere in the middle of that. I want to be able to stay in conversations that may be perceived as difficult but being able to stay in the conversation by being grounded in my own values and living from my heart space.
When I was younger, I used to avoid difficult conversations. Some of the clients I work with, they talk about how difficult some of the conversations are and how they just don’t want to have the conversation – they want to leave. Yet, there is a metaphor I use of a tree; when you think of a tree of scarcity or of judgement, when we’re living in that tree then our thinking is judgmental. We are labeling and analyzing people, we are caught up in our own thinking, or denying responsibility, or making demands on other people and we think we deserve lots of stuff. This is a privileged way of looking at life.
For me, I know I’m abiding in that tree when I’m having predominate feelings of anger, or guilt, shame and depression. I’m making myself wrong or diminishing my sense of self, or I’m making someone else wrong. That can become a looping predominate pattern that that is just the way you perceive things, with a negativity bias attached to it.
When I can recognize I’m in that paradigm, that way of being, I slow down and come back into my body using my inner modalities to tune in as a multi-sensory being. I begin to sense into what is right now, which slows down all that inner chatter to begin to feel the sensations in my being and begin to link them to what is the emotional quality, or flavor of energy that is running through me.
So, curiosity is a really great tool to use in this process; to get really curious about my own inner experience. When I connect it with what I am valuing it starts to clear all the mental clutter out. This allows me to open my heart to be curious about others experiences in order to stay engaged in the conversation.
What I’m doing is building a bridge of trust inside of my own self with Life. It’s by having that connection with Life that supports me to stay engaged with others in Life. So, when I can recognize a pattern, I can slow down and begin to tune in to what is really happening. Then I can be curious and listen to people who speak differently than me, that have different thoughts than I do, and they ask different questions than I do.
I don’t need to take it personally or get defensive or scared, instead, I can stay interested and grounded in my own values in order to have an exploration and discovery in conversation with another person. I can risk being vulnerable and learning something new. I can also call a pause and say I’d like to finish the conversation later, and there is no ‘have to’ to have a conversation. I also want to give myself permission to say, “Well, right now, I’m not open to having that conversation.” I can set authentic limits and take care of myself.
The more that I’m learning and the more that I’m growing, the more passionate I am about developing my capacity to stay engaged in conversations, especially when they seem difficult. Because there are some real beautiful needs underneath there that are needing to be named and acknowledged. Many times, they are needing to be named and acknowledged for others who don’t have the capacity to do that for themselves.
I want to be empowered to speak up and name what needs to be named, and stay engaged in the conversation, while promoting peace and heart connections. For there to be mutual respect and mutual care and consideration for all of life. I want to promote those conversations, and they begin first within each of us.
Can we begin to recognize the places where we have avoided having conversations? Where we have denied responsibility. Where we have denied that we receive benefits from others being diminished. Those are important conversations to have; with ourselves, with our loved ones, our families and friends, our colleagues. Those are important conversations to have in our world. I hope you are having those conversations.