Hello noodle babies! I can’t believe that it’s already mid-MARCH. Where has the time gone? I celebrated a birthday, traveled to Costa Rica, taught some workshops and Sabrina and I are planning our book release. Holy moly. It’s happening. (May 30th. You can even pre-order it on Amazon That's the realness.)
But even with all these awesome things going on, I’m still not feeling 100.
Maybe you’re like me, feeling a bit….what’s the word, stressed? Freaked the fuck out? The world feels like a coo-coo bananas right now.
There are days where I feel like I'm going to fall in the abyss of “HOLY SHIT, I’M PANICKING WTF”. I have to walk myself back off the ledge and remind that part of myself that everything is going to be okay.
**aggressively whispers to self “everything is going to be okay”**
With all this division going on right now, it’s hard to believe that we’ll ever find a middle ground.
That is a seductive place to land. Like, nothing is going to change so you can just throw your hands up and say “fuck it”, marathon Ru Paul’s Drag Race and eat two giant ice cream sandwiches. Because…who cares anymore?!
Or you can maybe you’re feeling the other side, where you’re just filled with rage and pissed. Maybe feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do. Maybe you swing back and forth between the two. Maybe it’s just me.
Right now, I’ve found that it’s really easy to start to otherize and be reductionist about people who don't share my point of view, especially politically. And that’s dangerous.
When we disconnect from our hearts, from seeing people as people, and get into our egos we make the world a place that’s me against you.
The outcome of that fight is we all lose. And right now, there are a lot of us in that spot. The whole feeling of : “I’m right, you’re wrong and you’re an idiot on top of it.”
We all have gotten into a disagreement or a fight– you’ve probably had the experience of someone saying a variation of that sentiment to you. I definitely have been both on the giving and receiving end. (Sidebar: there is a whole story about that very tug of war in our new book, You Are Amazing.)
What’s happening in the world can also be looked at through the microcosm of our own relationships but with the volume turned way down.
Just recently, I was on a family trip in Costa Rica. I was being a typical big sister jerk and accused Sabrina of using my hairbrush and not putting it back where I left it in the bathroom. I think I said something along the lines of “God SABRINA, where did you put my brush?! If you’re going to use my stuff, PUT IT BACK.” (FYI: Sabrina didn’t touch my brush. I never actually took it out of my suitcase and I’m a goober.)
Sabrina fired back : “You’re so disorganized” And voila, we were in an argument. If you’re wondering how me being a stinker about a hairbrush has anything to do with any of this bear with me for a moment.
The truth of the matter is, before I even opened my mouth, I was in my ego.
My lovely ego was in the driver’s seat and feeling righteous in a really familiar story - anyone who has a sibling knows the tale of “you touched my stuff”.
Before I could take a moment and check myself or just ask my sister, the person, instead of “my sister who always moves my stuff”, I was ready to attack. I was greeted with defensiveness and a counter attack – “you’re disorganized.”
Later, when we were talking Sabrina told me I hurt her feelings. At first, there was part of me that wanted to tell her she was over-reacting: “get over it, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s just a brush.”
But, that part of me is a jerk.
I shouldn’t listen to her because she’s not that nice and is really bad at apologizing. I was not seeing my sister, a person whose feelings I hurt. I was more tied to the story of “you didn't’ move it this time but it’s usually you so you should be sorry anyway.” (Um, hello ego!) When I finally got into my heart space, everything shifted. (To be honest, I needed a time-out because my ego was on over-drive that day over a brush)
On some level, it’s easier to fight and “be right”.
We’re hard wired to protect ourselves against a perceived threat – even if that threat is criticism and not a saber-toothed tiger. Being right, in reality, kinda sucks. It's easier (it’s not my problem, it’s theirs) because it’s less work in the short term.
Rather than getting away from the story and connecting, we take a bypass. It takes availability to listen, to understand, to empathize, to have compassion and, to get away from “what really happened”. It takes a lot of patience and self-control. Like “please excuse me while I count to 10 and breathe deeply so I don’t murder you.”
We have to drop into our hearts and listen to what’s under the noise.
When we’re triggered, those things can feel next to impossible.
The solution? We have to practice. We have to practice listening to what is underneath what is being said and attending to that. When we listen with our hearts and connect person to person, we find that we share more in common than we first realized.
As if by magic, our hearts soften and things shift.
One of my favorite examples of this is a black man by the name of Daryl Davis, a professional boogie woogie pianist. He was playing music at a honkey tonk bar one night when a man from the KKK was in attendance. The Klansman was so impressed by his piano playing that it started a dialogue.
That dialogue and inroad led to many more, and eventually Davis befriended over 20 Klansman, who through their conversations and friendship, left the Klan, giving Davis their robes and hoods - including the Imperial Wizard. When summing up his experience for the Daily Mail; he said:
“Establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they're not fighting.”
It’s an incredibly remarkable story – you should totally listen to it.
Davis in my mind, is an actual super hero. He sat down and talked to people in the fucking KKK. Mind blown. I could hardly talk to my sister about a brush. But he's an incredible and exquisite example of getting below the noise. And the noise he had to endure was hateful, racist, and violent.
Instead of reacting, he stayed grounded and listened. He heard fallacious arguments, saw what was underneath them and used their own reasoning to change how they thought. The conversations between Davis and the Klansman changed everything. It disassembled their racist ideology. It was his wise heart that captained that ship. He saw that these people were afraid and how that unchecked fear and ignorance was poison. He acted as an educator. Davis said:
"If you don’t keep that fear in check, that fear will breed hatred. If you don’t keep hatred in check, it will breed destruction."
Davis's courage and wisdom is a beautiful and profound example of what we can do when we move beyond story. Davis, by the virtue of being who he is, a powerful, wise , curious and opened hearted man, changed their world view. Once they got to know him, it was hard for them to maintain their prejudices. Talk about a healing. Damn.
When we get underneath the defensive ego and connect heart to heart, we can do what our heads deem impossible.
Daryl Davis is my hero. He is an example and role model for all of us. Obviously, you don't'' have to subject yourself to the violence Davis did. But we can learn from his example and use it in our day to day.
Letting our righteous and easily wounded egos drive the conversation ends in disaster. Let's drop into our hearts fight fear. Now, more than ever, we need to practice finding these connections so we can start healing and remember the power of the human Spirit.