Had a tough day yesterday. With all the fallout coming from the violence in North Carolina, I felt bummed out. I’ve got to admit, I overindulged in my feelings and it turned into a pity party.
I personalized the event. Growing up in the South, I’ve been reared with one important fact in my consciousness: A white person’s life is more valuable than my own or any other person of color’s in America.
This has affected the way I act in so many ways that go unspoken because I’m just trying to live my life from the inside out - honoring and valuing myself, rather than expecting culture or society to do that for me.
But yesterday, I went back into the pain that I felt as a child when I first experienced racism. I felt shame, then anger, and then pain.
Then, my thoughts went to the aggressors. How much abuse, how much poverty in love and life have they experienced to be so enraged? In that place, a place I’ve been so many times, I can see the pain in their bloodshot eyes - feel the pain in their screams. “See me!” they say. “I want to be seen. My pain is real.” The anger and the pain underneath.
Then I thought about the people of color at that rally. How hard it must have been to be on the receiving end of all that hate, anger, and pain. The sorrow of being hated for a thing beyond your control - as arbitrary as the color of a t-shirt, though people have been killed for less. Their pain, their suffering.
Then I thought about the ripple effect throughout humanity. Everyone - white, black, and in between angry about the situation, and at the heart of it, feeling pain.
Pain is the thread running through all of us; and with that trying to figure out what to do with it. In my most desperate place yesterday, I practiced an exercise I learned from Kristin Neff’s book, Self-Compassion. It incorporates 1. awareness, 2. connectivity, 3. compassion.
I sat with my pain and said.
1. “This is hard - it’s hard to feel this way.”
2. “Feeling this way is part of being human and being alive. I’m not alone in feeling this way.”
3. “I will be kind and gentle with myself.”
This last piece of the practice incorporated watching a few movies that helped me cry. And today I woke up feeling less heavy, yet very human.
I hope you will practice self-care and self-compassion during times of cultural heaviness and pain. It’s humanity’s greatest form of social activism to take the time to process your own emotions, take responsibility for them, and own your power.
Hi! I'm Robin - Teacher, Singer, & Author. I love creativity & sharing what I love!