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Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

podcast Jun 23, 2020

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Hi Dethroners!  Today I want to talk about how YOU can be part of the change that is occurring in our world.

We are living such a historic moment that is filled with so much pain, but it is also filled with so much possibility. Because we are starting to have real conversations about how pervasive racism is in our culture and how devastating life has been for Black and brown communities. I have been talking with people, listening to podcasts and lectures, and reading a lot so that I can really educate myself about what it is like to be Black in our world. 

I have always known that I am not a racist but I was completely blind to how little I knew about what it is really like to be Black in this society. I am embarrassed that it was not until George Floyd’s death that I donated to the NAACP legal defense and educational fund. His death really woke me up to the idea that I have not been doing enough and really understanding what white privilege really means, like being privileged in that we don’t have to fear for our children’s lives when they walk or run down the street, or privileged because assumptions and opinions about us are not based on the color of our skin.  

Here is where WE can really be the change. I talk a lot about learning to unhook from the automatic thoughts that create our emotions and actions and stepping into a completely rewired mind.  For most people, we want to rewire a new mind to feel better about ourselves, our relationships, our life circumstances.  But what we really need is to rewire a collective mind in our culture that has us think about racism in a completely different way than we ever have before.  

As human beings, we have the capacity to give meaning to the world around us.  Our reality is created only in our minds, by the interpretations and meaning we add to our experiences and circumstances. So the problem that has existed for far too long in our culture is that we have been placing meaning on our perceptions of who we are supposed to be and who other people are supposed to be, and form a lot of judgments of ourselves and of others. 

And those judgments pave the way for people to be judgment making machines-- with themselves and with everyone else. This judgment opens the door for people to be judged based on the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their religion. It is judgment that has plagued our society for way too long.  And judgment is the MEANING we assign that defines the attitudes and prejudice and discrimination that is so rampant. 

The meaning we assign to ourselves and our world is what maintains stereotypes, makes us feel either inferior or superior, and makes some people treat other people like they are less than them.  

We are taught when we are young to share, to play nice, to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  But what we are NOT taught, is to love, value, and respect ourselves.

Particularly as women, we have been trained by the world around us that our value, our worthiness, our being good enough, is determined by others. We look for approval from others, and not wanting to upset or disappoint people. We are only good enough if other people think well of us, or we measure up to who society says we’re supposed to be. 

We have programmed thoughts that have been handed down from generation to generation. We learned these thoughts from our parents, teachers, peers, things we’ve seen both consciously and unconsciously in the world. And our mind has put together an idea of who we are supposed to be, that leaves ALL people feeling less than, inadequate and not good enough. 

That is an epidemic. Feeling not good enough is something that every single one of us as humans struggles with. And that pervasive feeling that is perpetuated in our culture creates a society that focuses on “how do I get ahead, how do I be good enough.  How do I control what other people think of me, how do I get my life to match the way I think it should.” 

So we stay stuck in our own little world of our own little life. So as a white woman, I have absorbed messages that my value is connected to how I look, how successful I am, how successful my children are, what others think of me.  

We think in a way that breeds shame, guilt, seeking approval and trying to measure up, which is the antithesis of change in our world. We run away from difficult emotions.  We don’t want to feel them.  And we have been running away from the same difficult emotions and conversations in our culture as well. 

Living in a world where we are ALL good enough for each other, where we have compassion and love for ALL human beings, starts with being good enough and having compassion for ourselves. We need to learn to create a world where we see the worthiness and good of ALL humans. 

But we can’t do that with others if we are not doing that with ourselves first.  We need to treat everyone like the beautiful human beings that we are.  But we can’t do that if we don’t first recognize the beautiful human being that we are.  We need to change the world by learning how to change ourselves from the inside-out.  

I would imagine that all of you listening consider yourselves to be someone who accepts people of all races and cultures and religions. We have all been educated about racism and diversity. But the intellectual education we have about diversity and racism won’t change unless transformation occurs on the level of the heart. 

Our words and attitudes towards each other begin with our words and attitudes towards ourselves. We need to genuinely change the way we think and feel about ourselves. We need to create a fundamental paradigm shift in the pervasive thoughts about ourselves that breed egoic needs that create a society that perpetuates self-interest, fear, staying stuck, overwhelm, judgment, chronic unhappiness, unworthiness, and greed. 

We need a huge paradigm shift from the inside out. We need to create a caring society, which can only happen if we, to quote Gandhi, BE the change we wish to see in the world.  We need an internal transformation, beginning with our own hearts.  Change from the inside-out is what creates a true shift in our society. 

We need to shift from a society in which we feel small, separate, and alone because we are always trying to be enough and never feeling like we ARE, to a society where we are taught to think in a way that creates love. 

A loving society is where people assume responsibility for the welfare of others. We need to stop being so overly consumed with OUR reputation, our worthiness, our enoughness. We need to become a society that instead has grace and compassion for all of our human imperfections, faults, flaws, and mistakes. 

We need to wake up and see that we are all the same. We all struggle with the same insecurities, doubts, fears.  If we don’t have love and compassion for ourselves and learn how to cultivate loving and valuing ourselves, we can’t evolve into a caring society. We need to learn to think in a way that alleviates our own suffering and removes our pain and shame that we carry around in our hearts. 

Because if we can’t give ourselves love and compassion, how can we possibly give that love and compassion to other people? We need to see how interconnected we are as humans. That we are ALL children of God.

The ability to love ourselves has nothing to do with our looks, our accomplishments, our money, our power, our things, our reputation, other people’s judgments of us. We are ALL the same. We need to see that compassion is the opposite of racism.  Compassion and love for ourselves is what creates loving emotions that create loving actions. 

When we connect in this way with ourselves, we can connect in this way with other humans, and we can connect in this way to god. When we are connected to God, to the universe, to something outside of ourselves, we find the compassion and love that connects us to all other humans. 

It is the people who are most disconnected from themselves that are the most broken.  We need to become a society that sees all human beings as an interconnected human family, where we respect and love ALL humans. That begins with ourselves. 

We need to see clearly that we are not broken. There is nothing wrong with us. We are ALL already good enough. There is nothing to fix, change, perfect, control. If you are spending your life trying to be good enough and feeling like you’re not, you will unconsciously look for where you are less than, and where you are better than others.  This is the attitude that at its worst, breeds racism. 

If you don’t like yourself, you will judge and criticize and find fault with others. The way you think and feel about you has everything to do with the way you see the world around you.  Racism is all about deep-seated personal insecurity and unworthiness, which has been rampant in our culture for generations.  Racist people hate themselves first. When we learn to hate ourselves, we are emotionally, sometimes physically violent to ourselves, and that breeds emotional and physical violence towards other people. 

I will wrap this up with one of my all-time favorite songs by Whitney Houston, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”  Change starts with YOU! 

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