Mentality Check

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Juneteenth is the mostly widely celebrated and recognized commemoration of the end of slavery in the US. This year marks 115 years of celebration. Many large companies have come forward in recent days to declare it a paid holiday for workers. This is largely in response, it would seem, to the recent riots and protests taking place around the world in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

What’s your mentality about it? Are you unphased? Celebrating the growing recognition of it? Feeling threatened in some way?

You don’t have to look very hard to find people who are feeling threatened. Their feelings are not new; they are simply now feeling braver about openly expressing hostility and hatred of many minority groups, most often black people. Hatred for many minority groups has become normalized under this presidency. Juneteenth is simply another excuse for this group to hide behind their fear and small-mindedness.

Check your own mentality. What’s the lens through which you are seeing things? What does your own experience tell you? Are you courageous enough to recognize when you have a lack of experience? Can you leave aside your preconceived notions long enough to explore your mentality?

All of us need to think about our mentality because it shapes our responses, our approaches, and our rhetoric. This isn’t just about fear and scarcity vs. hope and abundance, though those are definitely at play here. This is about whether or not we feel we should even listen to one another, or try to see things from another perspective, or simply show compassion even when we don’t understand.

I’ll use myself as an example. When I’m in ‘fight’ mode (because ‘flight’ is rarely an option for me), I’ve noticed my mentality becomes more closed. I don’t want to hear another side of an argument. I want to win. If the ‘other side’ is expressing views with which I don’t agree, I lose the ability to even try and see things from their perspective. That’s what happened to me at a recent small gathering. I wasn’t even in the center of the discussion—just on the periphery. It still enraged me to the point of deciding it was time to leave. Whether that was the right response or not, we can debate.

When I’m engaged in an actual discussion with someone where there is a calmer atmosphere and an intention to express views, ask questions, and genuinely listen to other viewpoints, it’s easier to try and see things from another point of view. Granted, this effort is made for the purpose of framing a better way to get my own viewpoint across. (I’m not perfect.) But I can at least do so while showing more respect for the other person’s experiences or perceptions, even if I don’t agree with them.

So what about you? Be honest. Are you keeping your mentality in check? Are you at least assessing it honestly? What are you finding? What adjustments are you making? We’d love to hear about it. Be well and stay safe out there.

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