The next time you are triggered, transform judgments (yours and theirs!) with three practical self-resourcing practices that will help you stay both honest and kind.
Your extended family has traveled from afar to gather for a festive holiday celebration. You happily hang with the relatives, coo over the new baby, admire the latest engagement ring, cringe at the gory details of your grandmother’s latest illness.
At dinner, you’re enjoying your sweet potatoes while eyeing those roasted Brussel sprouts, when one of your dear relatives says something like this:
“The problem with the liberals these days is that they’re oversensitive and overreact to everything.”
“Trump supporters are all ignorant, vile human beings.”
“It’s a good thing so many of us are armed these days, cuz bad times are coming. You should really get a gun if you don’t already have one.”
You feel a rush of heat rise up your back as you hold your breath for a moment.
Normally, you’d fire something smart back sharply.
Or, you’d swallow your words and get up from the table to pour more wine, telling yourself you need reinforcements to get through this dinner. You discreetly check the time to see if its too soon to politely bail on the whole shindig.
You’re tired of heated arguments and don’t really feel like getting into a debate. But, if you don’t say something, that comment will eat away at you into the night.
You’re looking for a new response. You want to live your values. You want to stand up for what you believe in.
If this sounds like something you might face in the coming months, here are a few small reminders to help you handle it with dignity, integrity and grace:
1. Honor Yourself
Let yourself be impacted by what you hear. Don’t push it away or override it. Feel angry? Well, then there’s an important sadness, longing, pain, or hurt underneath. Slow down and feel those feelings. They all matter. Make room for them. Self-empathy is a powerful resource.
In bearing witness to yourself, you interrupt the part of you that joins and perpetuates internalized systems of oppression.
Instead of self-silencing and minimizing, listen to yourself, hear yourself, matter to yourself.
Treating yourself with dignity like this (instead of judging yourself or resisting how you feel), leaves you less dependent on getting that need met by others. You’ll be able to stay clearer and more effective with others when they dismiss, judge or minimize you.
2. Turn Lead into Gold
Instead of believing your judgments as “truth,” slow down and look for the buried treasure: what does your judgment actually tell you about what you value?
Thinking, “What an asshole, he doesn’t understand anything other than his own narrow frame,” becomes “I really value having a broader perspective on issues like this, one that includes multiple perspectives and builds understanding between people.”
If you find that your gold is your deep desire to include multiple perspectives and to build understanding, talk about that.
3. Humanize. Humanize, Humanize
Talk to the human being in front of you: don’t turn them into a symbol of wrongness and then rage against the system by raging against them.
Remember, minds change once hearts open.
So, show up in a way that keeps your own heart open. Keep your own willingness to understand and learn at the forefront.
Make a deep commitment to being in relationship with the human being in front of you, regardless of the ways in which you see things differently.
Check out this post for some examples of what honest self-expression and deep listening could actually sound like in situations like these. Let’s explore how to respond when someone’s intention is not aligned with the actual impact that their words, unfortunately, had on others.