I am discovering (or being reminded really) that a lot of the best tools and techniques for getting along better with your partner, apply to the act (art) of healing racism.
If you’re looking to heal your couple relationship, or wondering about how to have better race relations, consider the following. The point is to know and take care of your own inner life, including your biases, have acceptance for your own distorted beliefs, be truly present and open to hearing the same from another, use your awareness and ability to calm yourself as a guide to wise (inter)action and clear voice. And deeply listen. I mean really deeply listen…with heart!
Try out any of these tips as you make your way through these tender, potentially ouchy conversations you may be having these days, with partners, family, friends, community.
- Remember, each one of you is your own person, with distinct and beautiful (and even ugly) thoughts, ideas, values, wishes, history, culture.
- Create a safe space for each person to feel safe to talk and express their own ideas, story, even if it’s different from the mainstream opinion.
- Don’t be so attached to the same ideas you’ve always had, about how another should be, or how they need to love you the way you want.
- Be willing to be vulnerable.
- Do your own internal work. Recognize your own inner (unconscious) biases and be intentional about noticing when they’re at play.
- Acknowledge your mistaken beliefs, actions, expectations, assumptions.
- Focus more on how you can change, rather than what your partner/other person should do.
- Listen deeply without rushing to interrupt or to need to say your own part.
- Try to find shared values.
- Ask questions with kindness, respect, curiosity about how the other person got to this point.
- Be willing to take full responsibility for the conflict in communication that has just happened.
- Look at your own history, traumas, losses, hurts and see how they’ve created ineffective patterns of behavior on your part.
- Don’t approach the other with blame, outrage, criticism, lecturing, shaming, or you will only get defensive self-protective communication in return.
- Remember, everyone ultimately wants to belong; to feel safe being themselves; to feel loved; be listened to and valued, seen, heard and understood.
- Don’t only focus on the problems that exist. Remember to include regular appreciations, gratitude, joy.
- Notice when you feel shame, guilt, frustration, criticism, anger, where it shows up in your body. Hold that for a moment longer, with compassion. Remember the person you’re talking to is feeling stuff in their body too.
- Wonder why and where does it hurt to have this conversation?
- Listen to the other person’s perspective about you, without personalizing and reacting. Take it in; consider the next best action so you can be responsive instead.
- Try getting a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable in discussions where people are sharing their perspectives and feelings.
- Show up as your best self.
- Before dialoguing, ask yourself how you intend or aspire to have that conversation.
- Learn practical ways to soothe your emotional brain in the midst of rising tension and conflict.
- Don’t expect perfection in yours or your other person’s efforts to communicate and listen. No one just gets it right all the time. Learn to appreciate mistakes that you and the other make and practice forgiving and looking for your hearts.
- Notice the ineffective language or patterns of behavior you use that might be contributing to your person’s reactions or reactivity.
- As you listen more, with curiosity and heart, even to things that are difficult to hear, you will build intimacy and understanding in your relationships.
- Move with grace for yourself and grace for others.
If you or someone you care about could use some help in healing your relationships or with how you feel about those relationships, with partners, and people in your community, please contact me for a therapy appointment.
And check out my FREE healing circles for BIPOC dealing with the double pandemics of covid and racism, Fridays in July and August here.
May any pain in your heart be gently soothed as you heal your relationships.