…And 1 thing you can also do about it….
So the other day I was out, looking cool as can be, cruising around in my black Sienna swagvan. I’d just dropped my daughter off at gymnastics and was enjoying a rare moment of not having kids in the car or work on the brain. Christmas tunes were on the radio and I was feeling fine and festive, until an older white male cut me off in traffic.
Somewhere between “Jingle bells” and “Oh what fun,” he gave me the fiercest look of shame he could muster. He was annoyed when I didn’t let him squeeze his car in front of me, not out of any planned defiance on my part, but simply because I didn’t see his small blue sports sedan skirting up beside me.
In a flash, I felt the old part of me that wanted to cower, that wanted to back down and apologize for getting in his way. For taking up space in his world making it more difficult for him to get where he was going. Then I felt the other newer, braver part of me say “Hell no. This ain’t happening. Who are you to look at me that way?”
It all happened in an instant – his look, my initial conditioned response, and then a glorious microsecond later my practiced response of confidence, equality and strength taking over.
Now I very well understand that this man was likely just busy, rushed to get somewhere and did not fully realize the privilege his life of white male had afforded him, nor the impact that privilege would have on me.
I also realize that, in his haste, he would have given a big burly truck driver the same look of shame from the glass-enclosed safety of his small blue sports sedan. But likely, the reaction of the truck driver would not have been one of retreat.
This is not a tirade against white males. There are plenty of good ones out there, like this guy, and of course the one I’m married to. I’m not mad at Blue-Sports-Sedan man for cutting me off and giving me a dirty look. Certainly I have also been guilty of shooting fellow drivers similar grimaces when I’ve been pressed for time.
I’m not mad at this man. I’m tired of the conditioned response in me.
Women although change is happening (hell ya + hallelujah) the long history of gender inequality (and in my case also race inequality) still affects our ingrained nervous system reactions to our world. My initial response to cower is deeply grooved, having been taught down, modelled down and preached down over generations. For so long that response lay outside of my awareness. Now I notice it. And with that noticing comes the power to change.
What happens next is up to me. And it’s also up to you.
If any part of this speaks to you, download my Daily Energy Audit and complete it every day for the next two weeks. Just start to notice where you lose your power. With that awareness you can start taking steps to change.
That is how real change happens not just in ourselves but on this planet.