Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
For many years, I wanted to be right and good.
My well-meaning parents, my education, my friends, and my community programmed this “rightness” and “goodness” into me at a very young age. Before long, I was hiding, people-pleasing, and self-shaming with the rest of ‘em in order to be Right. Because being right and good meant being loved. And like all of us, all I wanted was to be loved.
In the past couple of weeks, for obvious reasons, I have re-invigorated my anti-racism work. Dismantling white supremacy and becoming anti-racist forces us to look at our role in structural racism. How do we benefit, why are we silent, etc. It shines the light right onto you (me) and looks at those parts that might be hidden away, or that we don’t want to think we have within us.
On social media, in workplaces, and in families, people are being called out on their behavior and language. I have participated in some of these discussions. Our Black colleagues and community members are cautioning against “performative allies” – those who give lip service to Black Lives Matter but don’t take action to support and empower Black people. I believe this performance stems from the desire to be “right” and “good” without being truly honest, soul searching, and getting to our shadow selves. People are afraid to be wrong and/or to say the wrong thing.
White people want to separate themselves from racists or white supremacists. We want to feel that we are right and good (and loveable), and for some, this is stopping us from doing the real work. Because you cannot be afraid to be wrong and do this work. You have to be willing to be wrong. Again and again.
The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor coincided with my re-reading How Emotions Are Made. This incredible book by Lisa Feldman Barrett talks, among other things, about how we form concepts, utilize language, and co-create reality within our communities.
Our brains are predictive in nature; our brains take past experiences, simulate what might happen next (in order to keep us safe), which helps form our perception of the world. Our bodies experience the world and our brain works to make sense of what’s happening. We use language to describe these experiences and knowings in order to make them real. I’ve talked about this in past blogs, about the need to name something.
We can change our future (perceptions) by opening ourselves up to new experiences and new concepts. This is partly why the anti-racism work is so important. Listening to others’ stories, learning new language (white fragility, white silence) broadens our minds and understanding of our world.
Collectively, we impact each others’ experience. In community, we actually help regulate each other’s minds & bodies through words, touch, and “vibes.” We can physically impact each others’ energy fields. We can use
Anytime you are certain that you are right (and good), take a pause. Certainty closes the door to dialogue, action and change.
Beyond being open to new concepts, we can also re-frame our perceptions in new ways and use new (more granular) language. When we cultivate what we want in this way, we truly construct a new future. What is the future you want?
After decades of saying “I don’t know how to cook,” I decided that I wanted to change that self-perception. I actually did know how to cook, what I lacked was confidence. I was afraid that I was a terrible cook and I was perpetuating that as my reality. I would highlight when I burnt dishes or nearly set the kitchen on fire. I was scared to cook.
One day, I decided that I would rather be wrong about my cooking ability. I changed my words. “I cook,” I started to say. “I’m going to go chef it up in the kitchen!” and “I’m making dinner tonight!” I would say to my wide-eyed children. I felt them thinking uh oh. I watched videos, tried recipes, and I cooked. I made mistakes, I made some terrible dishes, I also found a dish that I cooked well and everyone liked! A year later, I make dinner for my family more often than not (rather than leaving it to my husband). I changed my perception and thus my reality.
But, I had to be willing to change it. And I had to be willing to be a beginner, to suck, to try and fail. I realize this is a tiny example in comparison to systemic racism. But I know that the same practice translates across every aspect of our lives. Be open & willing, re-frame your concept, add words, repeat.
We are un-learning racism. We are de-programming ourselves. We are breaking down the systems/concepts we have created in our society in order to build something new. It truly starts with each one of us. Just think of what we could do.
You gotta feel it to heal it.