What better way to continue what we realized at our January Good vs. Evil January Listening Circle: speaking truth to power requires not only trusting your gut (intuition), but also the validation of others. Others together create systems both harmful and potentially good. Then, how do we interrupt, pause, demand urgency, with grace? What does power look like in the hands of the compassionate?
March 12, 2021 Reflections on Learning (by Julia) We ask, "When someone is trying to take something from you - be it time, dignity, space - what do you really want to say?" Knowing the boundaries of courtesy, of being nice, we first find ourselves asking internally, "Do I deserve this?". When the answer is "No!" we acknowledge we have choices, not just reaction. Sometimes that reaction is to shut down, to freeze because too often, we too nice. Sometimes we wish to say other things. Like: "What gives you the right to feel so entitled?", "That's your problem, not mine", "You don't realize it, but your words are trying to steal my dream", "This isn't the end, you will not just 'move on' this time", "I put in work that you can never take from me", "It's mine. I deserve it."
In truth, we find it too often said in anger. Anger is an emotion that invites rawness, eliminates the need for censorship. When others chose anger as an avenue to express truth, we listen. And like when in quicksand, we have the choice to struggle alongside and sink further, or we can wait out the hurricane. As a parent loves the child mid-tantrum. We also have the power to make things worse. Be wary.
How to say truthful things with grace? From last month's Good vs Evil Listening Circle (see below for summary), we discovered the need for safety, for community/kinship, and for flexibility. We ask, "What do you need to tell the truth?"
We acknowledge that what we need is also what we need to give: trust in compassion. Truth isn't always pretty or nice, especially in matters of the heart. When we hurt, we tell truths differently. We chose to not struggle in the quicksand because it takes us down too. We ask ourselves, "Am I causing avoidable harm?" We "practice being alive" and do it together. We tell truths to those we trust to give us an objective, calm response - even if we are not. We trust others responses to validate or invalidate our truth, as we too are flexible to welcome other truths as valid.
Oh, but how! After we left our circle, I checked in on those who were planning to attend but were unable. One parent responded that their child missed their nap and was, um, very unpleasant. I replied, "No worries, Fam first!" Then, I paused. This is exactly what we played around with in circle: parents' love for the child transcends only angry reaction, and implores patience and compassion. To hold each other when we take turn in need. In this way, we are all children. Let us treat each other as loved children.
Next month, we explore another theme that arose: Professionalism. A increasingly uncomfortable word, we look to redefine what that means. Stay in tune!
Julia Ismael hosts monthly Listening Circles for the masses as a way to stay informed and to find new and meaningful ways to create connection. Julia is the founder and Head Architect of Aspirations of The Equity Consortium. Monthly Listening Circles are held on the 4th Tuesday of the month, and what is learned from these circles is shared here. Please enjoy our stories.