Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Confronting a harsh reality

There is the way we want to be, the person we portray to others, and that is often the person we believe ourselves to be. We can fool ourselves into believing that is who we really are.

I see clients who tell me that they are a certain way--they tell me this with conviction--they believe it. However, their stories don't back it up. They might say, "I NEVER YELL. HOW CAN PEOPLE ACCUSE ME OF YELLING??!!" And they don't see it.

I've heard several interviews on studies that have been done around unconscious racism. People say they speak out against it, confront it, condemn it, and would dissassociate themselves from those who are overtly racist. The evidence suggests otherwise.

When in an situation where a disgusting, overtly racist term was used, NOT ONE person who was observed spoke out against it. Furthermore, when asked to choose a partner, the "white guy" was selected more often. Whether a mildly racist, extremely racist, or benign comment was made--NO DIFFERENCE was noted--at least in the experiment when the subjects weren't aware they were being tested. Actors were used to play the part--either of being not racist, mildly, or extremely racist.

The story was different when the situation was observed on video or read about--then people had definite reactions to be deliberately "anti-racist" regarding how they would react if it were them. Many said they would speak out against it, even more said they would avoid choosing person who made a racist comment as a work partner.

This has me thinking soberly about my own self perceived nobleness. Am I naive to think that I would be the sole "outlyer" in the statistical analysis. Are you? Can any of us be so arrogant as to say that we would be unlike all the others in the study and act on our stated values?

Do I act on my real values in I dare? If I allow the deepest parts of me to speak up, do I hear things that express values and opinions that I'd rather not have, that are not politically correct?

It has challenged me to be more candid with myself about potential blindspots in my own life. What would I easily say is a value of mine, that, when "push comes to shove", I wouldn't follow through on? Our actions speak louder than our words...I'm going to listen to what I'm really saying.

I think that is the first step--recognition of the truth. Then I'll have to figure out what to do with it!

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