The 2016 elections challenged me deeply. I felt that everything I am, an immigrant woman of color with progressive values, was being challenged. The day after the election I found myself crying on the streets. I felt desperate and helpless, and in my New York City progressive bubble everyone was feeling the same way.
I have always been politically active, advocating for women, immigrant and LGBTQI rights. I have a 20+ year career in social services and interact with other very politically active, similar minded people in my professional and social lives.
In contrast, my family and childhood friends range from very conservative to completely apathetic about politics. In an effort to “educate” them and “persuade” to think my way, I have spewed political rhetoric, statistics and “Called Them Out” when they said something that goes against my view of the world. These has only created distance between us and as a result they have become less likely to listen to what I have to say. My body’s wisdom has been trying to tell me for a long time that this is not the right approach. I usually leave these confrontational interactions with a warm and uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. I wanted to change how I was relating, but I also felt responsible to changing what I was witnessing was happening in the world.
In March 2019, I had the amazing blessing of participating in an impactful workshop with the Luna Jimenez Institute for Social Transformation. Nanci Luna Jimenez is the founder of the institute and the woman who inspired me to become a coach. I met Nanci in 2010, at a conference for Latina leaders in government and nonprofits. Her workshops at the conference were truly transformative, at the end of that conference I approached her and told her “I want to do what you do”.
When the student is ready the teacher appears. Nanci called me last February to let me know she was taking her workshop -Shifting Attitudes: Effectively Interrupting Oppressive Comments in Ways that Heal and Transform- on the road and was soon coming to New York. The description of the workshop sounded exactly like what I needed, I signed up as soon as I could.
Shifting Attitudes was a process intensive workshop that taught me how ask questions instead of behaving reactively. It showed me how to focus on the person, maintain an open mind and find a common ground. I learned a lot that day and found the activities very cathartic. To learn about Nanci’s transformative work click here to visit her site.
Bad habits die hard. I learned a lot at the workshop, but it has taken me time to break the reactive pattern I had created. Through conversations with my therapist and my bother I have been able to soften up, ask questions, and listen to the other persons perspective.
Now when someone expresses a view or opinion I disagree with or says something I consider inappropriate or discriminatory, I take a deep breath and instead of “Calling Them Out”, I choose to “Call Them In”. By Calling Them In, I mean I allow myself to have an open mind, I ask inquiring questions to understand their perspective, I listen quietly and thank them when they share something sensitive or vulnerable. I am calling them in, into my heart, closer to me, into my mental space. I am not calling them out, pushing them out, and building a wall anymore.
This process is hard, it requires self-awareness and humility. However, it is highly rewarding, by changing how I react to people I have been able to get to know them better, we have identified common grounds, they have been more open and willing to listen to my point of view and in some instances have come to agree with me. By Calling people In I am creating more allies, I am in a small way ending social divisiveness and fostering unity.
Unity and love are what we all need to heal the world. Unity is the way I choose to EmBody Joy!