Jun 22, 2020
How to deal with your racist family and friends
I was asked by a good friend to do a podcast episode on the topic of how not to get triggered by our racist friends and family. We can all agree that we are a very divided country – we’ve been for a long time. And it doesn’t help that many people cling so tightly to their beliefs, don’t take responsibility and blame others which create a bigger chasm between us.
You may think of me as a calm yoga teacher, but I’m a very sensitive and emotional person. I cry a lot and can fly off the handle easily, especially when I deal with people I deem ignorant or mean.
I think that’s why discussing politics, religion, race, sex or anything that is highly emotionally charged can be so confrontational, causing feuds at family gatherings.
Right now, we are going through some major historical events:
this global pandemic: those who are worried about health and those who are worried about businesses,
racial protests and riots – those who support black lives and those who support macy’s.
the fight for the rights of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people -- some may totally be on board with equality and others not so much.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how do we NOT get triggered by those opinions that differ from ours?
I hate to break it to you, but you’ll never get rid of triggers, nor will you be able to stop the other person from triggering you.
Today on the podcast I’ll share with you 5 ways that help me deal with people who trigger the F out of me and see their different beliefs as portals to my own growth.
In episode 80 I talk all about triggers. Triggers are all around us. We can’t avoid being activated by someone or something.
You know you’ve aligned with your ego when you feel inferior or superior to someone else. You’re stuck in comparison or judgement.
Rather than pointing the finger and being upset with that person, what are you learning about yourself and about them?
Our relationships are direct portals to our wounds,
awareness of our triggers can be portals to our growth.
If we can view our triggers as our greatest teachers, we can then heal our inner world to affect our outer world.
Ironically, we are most often highly triggered by those we care about or are closest to.
The challenging work is to watch and witness your thoughts. Most of our thoughts are recycled from our conditioned thinking.
We are triggered when the reality is not how we think it should be.
When I feel resentment, offended, hurt, or any kind of hot emotion, it’s an opportunity to turn inward, not lash outward.
Sit with the sensation so that the boiling emotion comes to a simmer.
Trying to avoid the sensation just creates more suffering.
In fact, reality has no emotional charge. The present moment is what it is.
It’s us humans that create the emotional charge behind reality. Something about that thing activates something within.
Taking responsibility for how you show up and changing your beliefs by watching your thought patterns lead to freedom.
Anything that causes you to be in an emotional state is your spiritual teacher.
Invite them in.
How do you detach from the outcome when you’re triggered, hurt and outraged at a friend’s beliefs and actions? It’s hard.
This is the work, my friend.
Detaching doesn’t mean you avoid the conversation or become numb or check out.
One of my favorite quotes is “When you’re upset, don’t eat.” Wait. No. That’s for another episode.
My favorite quote by Bryron Katie that I live by, especially when I’m triggered is, "There's your business, Other people's business and God's Business"
Most of the time I’m in someone else’s business that’s out of my control.
We spend too much energy replaying someone else’s actions and trying to influence someone else’s life, when in reality it’s their life and their choice of how they want to show up. We have no control over them.
Detach from the idea of converting anyone. You will never change anyone by forcing your own opinion and criticisms on them.
These battles about race, politics, humanity, and equality or any other disagreement are like a game of tug-of-war, where our Egos hold so tightly to what we believe to be true.
The more you pull and think you’re right, the harder the other person pulls to prove their right.
But…If you let go, you win.
The Ego wants to be right. Our heart wants to be understood.
Ok so if you get that triggers can be teachers and you’re working on letting go, how do you make peace with the other person who is upsetting you?
LISTEN. Intentionally listen.
Rather than mentally formulating your next objection before the other person has finished their sentence, listen with the intention to hear their view. I know this is hard, especially when steam is fuming out of your ears and your heart is seething with rage. Come back to step 1. Triggers are your teachers. Right now, your teacher is guiding you to generously listen.
Instead of speaking AT your friend, speak to what she said so you can have a constructive conversation and learn from both ways vs locking down and having a blowup fight.
Just like you have particular beliefs that you’ve learned, she has too.
When you can detach from trying to change your friend or family, and can listen to understand their viewpoint and learn their background behind their beliefs, you will learn something about them you never knew.
Our Ego wants to be right, by trying to convert them, or point out their flaws and prove why they’re wrong or how they’re a bad person. This only makes the other person defend who they are even harder.
No one wants to feel judged, wrong or unimportant.
Once you take the tug out of the tug-of-war, they feel seen, understood and significant.
Everyone wants that.
When they feel seen and heard, they’ll be more open to listening to you too. Their wall to defend themselves has come down a bit, and so has yours.
Sometimes they won’t be open or they’re just rude to the core, and, you know what, that’s a different choice (like a long term) choice you may need to make about your relationship and the boundaries you extend to that person.
But if they’re in your life to stay, like your good friend or a family member, and if you think they’re a good person and you would like to keep them in your life, why not make it pleasant as possible and stay open to learn from each other.
So instead of calling them out, call them in. Rather than pointing out their shortcomings, share with them your personal experiences, your own blind spots and what you have learned that they may not know.
By focusing on you and inviting them in to see your vulnerability and transformation, this may help them be less defensive and more open to learning about their own blind spots.
Hopefully by staying open and communicating from your heart space of loving on them, instead of your Ego that wants to perfect and prove, they also become teachers and share what they learn with others.
In Sanskrit Svadyaya means “self-study.”
The real yoga starts when you leave your mat and get into the world.
Each step forward is really just a step deeper into yourself.
Every relationship is a mirror to teach us something about yourself.
Instead of preaching,
controlling or forcing your opinion,
see these moments of fury as opportunities to stay open,
so you can learn about the other person
(and about yourself)
and fine tune your communication skills
By sharing from your heart,
rather from the Ego,
your light will inspire them to do the same.
And if it doesn’t,
then you will have changed
for the better because of it
This is the real Yoga.
to stay present to the simmer
pause in stillness,
listen with intention to hear both sides,
study yourself so you can know yourself
and speak from your heart
be the change you wish to see in the world.
I love hearing from you on my blog + instagram! How has this helped you?
If it has helped, I appreciate you sharing this with your friends.