Rev. Chani Getter, LCSW
November 10, 2023
This past week, I had the privilege of leading a training at The Center for Safety and Change, a domestic violence shelter in Rockland County, New York.
I walked in, thinking I was going to to facilitate a training on cultural competency and working with people who leave insular communities.
The world though, is a different place than it was when we planned this event, and the training took on a life of its own.
The questions asked were about being human, about how to be in human relationships. How – the attendees asked – how does one work with, interact with, and engage with people who have such different views in politics and what feels like fundamental values.
I paused, we all took a breath.
Then I invited the 38 lawyers, case workers, clinicians, and admin staff to look around the room. This was their community for the next hour, and in this space, we were going to get messy.
I often say that “clean relationships require messy conversations.” This is because the world is a mess. This is not new, it has been broken for a long, long, long time. Most environments teach us to push things away and not name the messiness. We are taught to not stop, not to take time to grieve and/or breathe.
I started with asking the people in the room to pause… to remember a time when a colleague or client walked into the room and in their own body, they felt judgment. Once we notice judgment, another part of us pushes the judgement away, pretending it isn’t there.
What if we noticed the judgment and just hung out with it? Welcomed it like a friend? What if we allowed what comes up to be with us? What if we allowed ourselves to feel the feelings, notice the sensations in our body, and honor what shows up?
And what if we noticed without needing to change it?
I invite attendees to have a messy conversation internally.
Oh wow – you are feeling judgment towards this client… this person… notice it… honor it… be with it…
Can you be with the discomfort? Can you still work with someone you disagree with, when you notice what you feel and don’t push it away?
We need to notice our own internal dialogue, and all the ways we silence ourselves, before we can really have messy conversations with those we disagree with. We are so used to silencing ourselves that we rarely notice how subtly we do that to those around us, especially if they hold viewpoints different than the ones we are comfortable holding.
As the world around us falls apart, not because it hasn’t for centuries, but rather because we are seeing the images now… would you join me in listening more, to our own silenced voices, and the voices that have been quiet for way too long?
audio version - listen now