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Deconstructing the biases within
Everyone has a bias of which we may or may not be aware. This isn’t to say that everyone is bad — biases are due to socialization by a imperfect and often discriminatory society, where we internalize the racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist ideologies of society from a young age. None of us are exempt from this. None of us are free from being impacted by the socialization society drums into us from a young age.
However, despite this sour reality, we can deconstruct these biases. This involves us facing up to our words, actions, behaviors, and thoughts that may bias us against specific people, groups, etc. It’s a lifelong process, one I’m still going through myself.
In this post, I’ll touch upon ways to deconstruct the biases and point people toward materials made by folks of color and LGBTQIA folks to help people in this process. I’ll also deconstruct some of the dense terminology and tips on staying aware and mindful of our actions, words, and behaviors in order to lessen the harm and try to negate our biases.
I hope this is helpful, and feel free to include further resources in the comments! If there is a section that needs refined, let me know as well.
Let’s define the Larger Picture
First off, let’s discuss socialization: what is it, why does it exist, and why does society socialize these biases into us?
Socialization is a form of molding the individual for life within a specific culture; it often imparts the norms, ideologies, and larger hegemonic structures that keeps the framework of that society’s culture upheld and somewhat static.
In particular, socialization inundates us with specific ideologies upon which our society is based, and this ideology is often hidden under layers of systems, policies, norms, messages within our media, and the larger hegemony of our society.
First off, hegemony is defined as a power strategy that engineers or coerces “consent” from individuals through a system of norms, policies, and roles that individuals within society inhabit. In order for this strategy to exist, ideology is used to socialize people into the a specific frame or “common sense” worldviews. The “common sense” of society is often constructed around the power strategy, thus they form a circle so to speak. Hegemony is the larger structure, ideology is the glue that keeps the structure together, and “common sense” worldviews is the individual bricks that uphold the structure.
That’s where socialization and biases come into play. To make the ideology seem like natural “common sense,” it is generally socialized from a young age through various forms of media, school, parents, and other authority figures and societal policies. The ideology is kept alive through structural systems – academia, think tanks, government policies, and the political sphere – as well as through social systems – family, friends, media, and the entertainment sphere.
Throughout our lives, these ideologies are reinforced through these different spheres of our existence: social, political, structural. Whether we like it or not, this hegemony upholds our society’s specific ideologies through an engineered (or coerced) consent to keep folks complicit. This complicity is easier for people to do than to go against the hegemonic force because the array of punishments bestowed on those that try to dismantle or fight against the prevalent ideology is often horrendous (particularly in our current society) — a litany of human rights abuses, injustice, and even death.
This isn’t to say that a hegemony needs to have horrendous consequences for those that counter it, but it is common and what our current society is doing to people who exist as themselves outside the allowed norms. It’s important to keep in mind that we can deconstruct the current hegemony with a different set of ideologies and build a better, more equitable, more equal, more just, and more sustainable future. But to do that, we first have to dismantle what our current society has instilled within us.
What is the current ideology of our society? There’s a lot of evidence that it is white supremacy cisnormative heteronormative colonialist patriachy. If readers wish to see the evidence of the ideology of our current society, then I recommend reading the following to better understand the history that culminated in our current culture. The rest of this post will focus on the various -isms our society socializes into us, ways to see the impact of that socialization on us and others, and how to start the journey of deconstructing our internal biases.
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
- An Indigenous People’s Guide to United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- The Transgender Studies Reader by Susan Stryker
- Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Barbara and Karen Fields
- Feminism for the 99%: Manifesto by Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, and Nancy Fraser
- Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
- Autobiography by Angela Davis and Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
- Beyond Black and White by Manning Marable
- Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought edited by Beverly Guy-Sheffall
- From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation by Keeanga Taylor
- US 2015 Trans Survey: http://www.ustranssurvey.org/
- Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julie Serano
- Sex Redefined — Nature
- Unerased: Counting Transgender Lives
- Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
- Inventing the Future by Nick Srnick and Alex Williams
- History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey and Rebel Cities by David Harvey
- Resource Rebels by Al Gedicks
- Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers by Michael G. Long
In order to uncover our biases, we first have to understand we have them. This is why the first part of this article dug into the ideology definitions, how they are perpetuated, and the list of books and articles for us to educate ourselves on the history of this. With this knowledge, we can better understand how American society socializes us with these biases in order to engineer our consent to be part of the white supremacy cisnormative colonialist patriarchy. The biases is what socialization created to gain our (often coerced) consent and complicity.
Does that mean we are bad people? Not necessarily as that depends on what we do with these biases. If we work to deconstruct the harmful biases society instilled in us, then we are taking a step in the right direction. The direction toward healing, reconciliation, equity, and justice. If we seek to perpetuate the biases and continue to engage in discriminatory ways and/or profit off them, then we are causing harm and should be called out and our platforms dismantled.
I am going to assume that those reading my writings wishes to engage this article in good faith and work toward deconstructing their biases and internalized -isms, so that we can work toward healing, equality, equity, and justice.
So let’s take a look at the different intersections of biases that society instills within us. A lot of these sections will overlap. There will be some that I simply cannot speak to myself, so I provide resources to those that have already created ways to tackle this topic.
I will speak briefly on ablelism, but I don’t have the energy to devote an entire breakdown of the topic, simply because the resources needed for it is extensive and the topic is quite diverse. I can only speak to C-PTSD, panic disorders, and the like, so I will only share some points and then link out to those who are experts.
Our society treats disabled people as if they are lying, as if they are leeches, as if they are burdens. When disabled people are able to do a thing an able-bodied person does, often the result will be surprise. That surprise the able-bodied person has is actually internalized bias against the disabled person. We expect disabled people to jump through extensive bureaucratic loops to access even basic healthcare, income subsidy, and other basic needs — most of these programs are severely underfunded because of society’s bias against disabled people.
There are a lot of disabled people on twitter that have taken the time to do some emotional labor to call out these behaviors and policies. I recommend listening to them — do not argue, do not talk, just listen. Also, check out these articles that discusses this topic more: 21 ways Able-bodied Privilege looks like and everyday Ableism and how we can avoid it.
I can’t speak for the white supremacy aspect as I am not a person of color, so instead, I will link out to a wonderful workbook written by Layla Saad: Me and White Supremacy book.
This workbook involves journaling on several topics that dig deep into the idea of race in America, how white supremacy exists within our society, its influences on us, and our privileges.
Her definition of white supremacy is echoed in many of the other books I offered as recommended reading in my introduction.
“White supremacy is an ideology, a paradigm, an institutional system, and a world view that you have been born into by virtue of your whiteness. I am not talking about the physical colour of your skin being bad. I am talking about the historic and modern legislating, societal conditioning and systemic institutionalising of the construction of whiteness as inherently superior than people of other races. Yes, outwardly racist systems of oppression like slavery, Jim Crow, apartheid have been abolished. But the discrimination, marginalisation, abuse and killing of BIPOC in white-dominated communities continues even today, because white supremacy continues to be the dominant paradigm under which white societies operate (page 18, Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla Saad).”
With this definition, Layla Saad invites the reader to look directly at white supremacy, to examine how it plays out at an individual, persona, and intimate level within ourselves and how we interact with those around us. It’s a wonderful book and well worth the buy.
If you’d like to work through this book with me, feel free to comment below about journaling together through the workbook.
In the meantime, I also highly suggest reading So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo, which also is a wonderful primer on this topic.
If you’d like a quick primer to prepare yourself for the hard work of deconstructing the numerous biases our white supremacist system instilled in us, then start with this list (paraphrased from a Civil Rights workshop in Des Moines by Breanne Ward, CRC, LMHC from moveforward2day.com ):
1. What words do we use to describe a person’s race? Why do we use these words? Where did they come from?
2. When did we first think about race? How does it impact our lives? How does that differ from the experiences of black people and other people of color? (Reading the resources and the two books I mentioned above can be crucial for this point).
3. What words do we use to describe a section of town where people of color live? Why do we use those words? Is there other, more positive words that can be used instead?
5. When called out on behaviors that cause harm, how do we react? Are we able to apologize? Do we actively listen to the person calling out the behavior? Do we make amends and work to not do the behavior again? What is stopping us?
6. Are we able to recognize issues that specific target groups in harmful ways? Are we listening to people from these groups when they call out the harm being done and how their rights are being infringed? Are we listening with open hearts and minds?
Follow-up to question 6: Are we supporting groups that fight to end oppression of all people? Why or why not? What is stopping us?
For example, Black Lives Matter formed because society was treating Black lives as if they mattered less than other people’s lives. But there is a heavy bias within society that by saying “Black Lives Matter” we are saying that “all other lives don’t matter.”
This bias is rooted in the idea that everything is a competition, also know as a zero-sum game, where if X is said to be true, then this automatically invalidates Y. This zero-sum bias is incredibly harmful bias; life (and our traumas) are not a zero-sum game. Someone sharing their experience does not imply that someone else’s experience is invalid. Someone stating that their life matters does not imply that other people’s lives don’t matter.
Black Lives Matter does not invalidate anyone else’s lives and the fact they matter. What Black Lives Matter says is that society’s biases and white supremacist systems are harming black people at intensely high rates as if they are worth less. So it’s a proclamation against those systems by saying: “No, your white supremacy system will not invalidate the truth that Black Lives Matter too.”
For the cisnormative aspects of our biases, that I can speak to as a trans person. Our society teaches us that gender is a binary, that what we are assigned at birth is our gender, and that our genitals is the biggest marker of gender.
This is all false. Yes, that sounds harsh to say for some people who are invested in the gender binary, but honestly, based on our actual biology, it’s false. The way we describe gender within American society today is a construct — even sex is a construct based on the ideological framework our society socialized into us.
Gender is actually quite diverse. Some cultures on Earth have up to five genders. In fact, biology is showing more and more that humanity is not as simplistic as having just two sexes. Think of gender as your identity that is within your brain. Your sex is related to your biological make-up such as secondary sex characteristics or chromosomes; however, studies show that using sex to determine gender is not always reliable. Also, there is some evidence that one person could technically have cells with very different chromosomes. The point here is to show that even gender can be incredibly diverse.
Part of that last paragraph stems from a blog post I wrote about how to write a trans character in fiction. Honestly, I think that post can also be an important way for folks to look at different ways to view gender in of itself, so that it is easier to provide a counter to the socialized bias our society instilled in us. Please read it here: A Primer on writing Trans Characters
In order to face our biases about gender, we need a better understanding of what it is, how society socialized us into believing specific things about it, and to utilize more expansive terminology to aid in dismantling those biases.
We need a foundation of terms that can help us navigate this diverse landscape. For that, I recommend the Transgender Language Primer. The Primer also defines medical terms as well as terms specific to sexual orientations (which are separate from gender identity.)
Take time to examine the resources I’ve provided thus far, and if there is a moment of feeling uncomfortable, stop and ask: “Why am I feeling uncomfortable? What is the source of this feeling?” Often, the source is an internal bias that is conflicting with the information that you’ve been presented with — this cognitive dissonance causes the uncomfortable feeling. Our instinct is to reject the thing that causes the cognitive dissonance or fight against it, but instead, take the moment to sit with the uncomfortable feeling. Sit with that emotion, and unravel its roots.
Another important aspect to consider is our relationship with pronouns. I wrote a guide to the etiquette of pronouns. For those reading this article, take a look at how you feel about the ‘they/them’ pronoun.
Do you find yourself resistance to use that pronoun for other people? Do you view it as only a “plural” pronoun?
And yet, it has been used throughout history as both a singular and plural pronoun. We often will casually use it within our conversations to refer to someone we don’t yet know the gender of. So what is stopping you from accepting this pronoun for other people? Sit with that uncomfortable feeling, and consider the idea that what is stopping you may be internal bias socialized into us from society.
1. How do you view people of other genders, who are not men or women, in positions of power? How do you view trans women or trans men in positions of power? Do you view their knowledge and leadership as valuable and as important as a cisgender person?
2. What political and social leaders do you support and what are their stances on the human rights of trans people within our society?
- Do you understand what policies impact the trans community? Are you supporting people who are creating policies that hurt trans people? (Resources section has valuable information on issues that impact trans people.)
- Can you find a way to assist in the protests of these harmful policies?
- Are you listening to transgender people who are identifying when their rights are being violated and when policies harm them? Are you listening with an open heart and mind?
- Are you supporting the transgender fight for human rights and end of oppression for all people? Why or why not? What is stopping you?
3. How do you describe people? What language do you use? Why do you use that language? Is there a better, more inclusive way to describe people?
4. Do you share trans-made resources over resources by cisgender people, especially if they are about the same topic? What is stopping you from sharing the trans-made resource instead?
5. Do you support trans creators as equally as you do cis creators? Do you know any trans creators? If you don’t, why don’t you? What is stopping you from seeking them out and supporting their work as well?
The important point here is to look at the ways in which we may uplift some people over others. Why do we do that? Why do we view certain stories as more factual than others?
For example, for resources and academic studies about trans people — why do we view cisgender people as being “objective” and trans people as being “subjective?”
There is no such thing as a person who is completely and utterly “objective.” Cisgender people are biased based on the socialization society gave us, where cis people are viewed as normal, thus there are certain privileges they have that a trans person does not. Privilege can feel like a loaded word, but it really only means that there are certain situations in life where that person has life’s easiest setting, while other person, in that same situation, is stuck on life’s hardest setting (to use a video game metaphor).
Also, the idea that cis is the “norm” places trans people as the “other” and as “less than” cisgender people. This is the bias socialized into us that we really need to root out.
The idea that a person of said identity cannot be an expert on their own identity is another bias society instilled in us. A trans person most definitely can be an expert about their own identity, and they also can create resources that are as valuable if not more so than a cisgender person’s equivalent resource.
In order to combat the bias, we need to provide the counter to it, so try tackling this section and the resources in it. Look at each question they share, and then take a look at your response. Try to counter your bias with a statement that contradicts your bias.
For example, if you feel strongly that they should never be used in the singular, take a step back and look at that bias. Now, write a counter to it — such as “I may feel that they is plural only, but people exist whose pronouns are they. There is historical references that show singular they has existed in various points of English’s history.”
Another example: If you feel that trans people shouldn’t use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender, step back and look at that bias. Now write a counter: “Trans people’s gender is valid. I am able to use a public restroom that corresponds to my gender, and so they should be able to have that same privilege.” It’s important to also acknowledge in the counter that trans people are more likely to be harassed, harmed, discriminated against, or even killed for existing in a public space. These facts can provide armor against the bias.
By countering the bias with facts and knowledge, it trains our minds to deconstruct the bias, and it gives us practice, so that we don’t automatically live out the bias. In my conclusion, I will list some techniques on how we can mindfully go against our socialization and counter the bias before it escapes into the world around us.
In our society, heterosexuality is seen as default. People often have to “come out” as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc, and doing so can put them into dangerous positions. A lot of the bias internalized into us by society is tied up in this idea that the only “allowed family” is one with one mother and one father – both whom are heterosexual (and often cisgender). This “nuclear family” idea erases the existence of all other types of families and the existence of single people of varying identities.
It’s important to consider how society elevates the idea of straight (hetreosexual) people as default and others all other sexual orientations. There is also overlap with cisnormative biases in this category as well because a trans person or a cisgender person can be any sexual orientation, and thus the internalized norms society instills in us about the gender binary and the gender roles people are allowed to inhabit can impact those who do not fit society’s idea of a straight cisgender person (who is either in a nuclear family or hopes to be in one).
One way to combat this bias is to use “Partners” or “spouses” instead of “husband” or “wife” to avoid erasing families that may be two fathers or two mothers. Or other family dynamics that don’t fit society’s strict “nuclear family” ideal.
Another way to combat this bias is to ask yourself:
1. Am I assuming the sexual orientation of those around me? Why am I doing that? What if I assumed everyone was gay/lesbian or bisexual unless they told me otherwise? What would that be like? How does that feel?
2. How can I include more inclusive language to avoid erasing the existence of LGBTQIA people from the political, social, economic, and personal spheres of life?
3. Are there any LGBTQIA people in leadership roles within your organizations or work? Why not? What is stopping you from encouraging them to lead? What is stopping you from developing their leadership skills?
4. Are you following LGBTQIA people’s media and creative works? Why or why not? Do you view them as valid and important as a straight cisgender person’s work? What is stopping you from viewing them as just as valid?
5. Are you supporting people who are creating policies/laws that cause harm to the LGBTQIA community and/or strip away their human rights? Can you recognize when this harm happens?
- Do you understand what policies impact the LGBTQIA community? Are you supporting people who are creating policies that hurt LGBTQIA people? (Resources section has valuable information on issues that impact LGBTQIA people.)
- Can you find a way to assist in the protests of these harmful policies?
- Are you listening to LGBTQIA people who are identifying when their rights are being violated and when policies harm them? Are you listening with an open heart and mind?
- Are you supporting the fight for human rights and end of oppression for all people? Why or why not? What is stopping you?
Once the bias is identified, it is easier to combat it and then work together with others to dismantle it.
This is also a topic I cannot speak directly on as I am not an indigenous person.
I can point one toward the recommended reading section, and provide a list of questions to think about (remember to not generalize as the answers must be your own views and possible internalized conceptions):
1. What were you taught about indigenous and/or native people? What stereotypes were shown to you as a kid through the media and/or textbooks at school?
2. How did the textbooks in our schools sanitize the actual truth about the native genocides America conducted throughout history? (Take a look at the Indigenous people’s guide to United States if one needs a better understanding of this history.)
3. Did you know about the existence of numerous Native tribes today? That Native people still exist and still struggle for survival today? Answer honestly. If you honestly did not know Native folks still were alive today, then say so and ask yourself — what or who instilled in me that idea? How do I perpetuate it and how can I stop?
4. In what ways is America still engaging in violence against Native people? (The Resource Rebels book is a good primer on the violence indigenous people around the world face, including those in America).
5. In what ways, have you perpetuated stereotypes about Native people? What generalizations have you used? Is there times where you appropriated their culture?
6. Think about the books you have read and the people you follow on various social media sites. Are any of them by Native people? Do you know any? Have you read, seen, or witnessed any of their created works?
7. Are you listening to Indigenous people who are identifying when their rights are being violated and when policies harm them? Are you listening with an open heart and mind? Are you supporting the fight for human rights and end of oppression for all people? Why or why not? What is stopping you?
Perhaps considering following some indigenous people’s blogs or social media. Do not expect them to educate you, as it is not their responsibility to do this emotional labor for you. Instead, listen, read, and listen some more to what they have already written and shared. Consider compensating them when possible through supporting their patreons, buying their books or music, or other methods of compensation.
The patriarchy has been pretty cemented within a lot of Western cultures for quite some time. A lot of what our society socializes us regarding the patriarchy is gender norms. These gender norms I spoke about in the cisnormative section, and societal gender norms automatically erase trans people.
Feminism grew out of the fight against the patriarchy, and intersectional feminism as coined by Kimberle Crenshaw grew out of the fight for black women to be seen and heard within the feminism movement, for their experience of sexism was also impacted by the racism they faced within that same experience. This idea of intersectionality can be expanded to include trans people and LGB people as well. For example, a trans women of color will have not only her gender impacted by the harm of the patriarchy, but she will also face transphobia and racism as well. In a nutshell, feminism is basically a fight for all people to be seen as equal and equitable under the law and within our social, political, and structural spheres of existence within our society.
So what does the patriarchy socialize into us?
The patriarchy ideology socializes us to view cisgender men as the norm or “standard person.” It also instills in us a belief that a man is superior to any other gender because he is a man. We may find that statement upsetting, and we may think that we are against it, but does our words and actions actually live up to this?
1. How do we describe people? What is considered the default person? (Such as why do we use the terms “guys” as a “default term” rather than “girls?” Or why do we draw default humans as cis men in various medical textbooks and other media forms?)
2. How do we view women in positions of power? What words are used to describe them versus the words used to describe men in power? Look at articles that have been written recently, look at the words you yourself have used.
3. Do we support people who are not men in leadership positions? Do we support their creative works? Do we even read or engage in their creative works or resources?
4. When called out on behaviors that cause harm, how do we react? Are we able to apologize? Do we actively listen to the person calling out the behavior?
5. Are we able to recognize issues that specific target groups in harmful ways? Are we listening to people from these groups when they call out the harm being done and how their rights are being infringed? Are we listening with open hearts and minds?
Follow-up to question 5: Are we supporting politicians that put forth policies that further harm? In what ways can we hold them accountable? Are we supporting groups that fight to end oppression of all people? Why or why not? What is stopping us?
6. How do we define femininity? What behaviors do we police in women-identified people that we don’t in men-identified people?
7. How do we define masculinity? What behaviors do we let slide in boys that we don’t in girls? (Look at the “boys will be boys” term and how it is applied to younger kids.)
Masculinity is not a precisely defined term. There are many ways to be masculine, and it is often based upon culture as cultures around the world will have different attributes assigned to masculinity. I can’t speak to the other cultures, other than to show that they exist — research them! It’s interesting to see the many varied ways masculinity can present itself.
For now, let’s examine how American socialized men and how our society teaches men to behave. This is where toxic masculinity comes into play as it is the main definition of masculinity that is drummed into American men from a very young age. What exactly is it?
A great definition of toxic masculinity (as well as ways to deconstruct it within classroom settings) is included in this essential read: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/what-we-mean-when-we-say-toxic-masculinity
I think perhaps the best deconstruction of the harmful aspects of toxic masculinity can be summed up in this slam poetry by Guante: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFoBaTkPgco
This article discusses how toxic masculinity doesn’t just harm people who aren’t men but also men themselves: https://www.salon.com/2015/06/12/toxic_masculinity_is_killing_men_the_roots_of_male_trauma_partner/
So what is the alternative to toxic masculinity?
Take a look at Mr. Rogers. His counterculture rejection of toxic masculinity is an amazing examination of a masculinity that is fearless, bold, but also gentle, kind, and loving. I’d highly recommend reading Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers by Michael G. Long.
Another good examination of masculinity and an alternative to it is the documentary called The Feminist on Cellblock Y, which examines men in prison and why they ended up there and how they came to understand a new definition of masculinity.
Masculinity does not need to be defined by violence, domination, lack of emotion, and this idea that masculine people are somehow intellectually and logically superior to others. That isn’t healthy, but it is a construct that was socialized into us.
We don’t have to abide by that construct. We can dismantle it and build a new healthier masculinity.
Who is doing that work? The Tolerance site I linked above has some excellent resources for teaching a healthier masculinity. Another good site is the Healthy Masculinity Project, which has a lot of resources, articles, and discussions to help one navigate this topic.
The purpose here is to start looking at the resources and how they impact us internally. I can ask a list of questions, but honestly, this post will become too long and too emotionally draining. That work has already been done by many others. Instead, I wanted to catalog some of their resources and get folks talking.
In conclusion, this is just the start of a longer journey. It is important to really look within ourselves and examine our internal biases, how they may drive our actions and words, and the ways they may cause harm to others and ourselves.
Just as importantly, we need to practice countering that bias and deconstructing it. One way to do that is to journal about the topics and questions covered in this article and in the recommended resources and links I provided above:
- Write a list of biases. Or answer questions in the above resources to help one locate one’s biases.
- Write the counter to each bias directly.
- Provide a fact within the counter that directly supports the counter to the bias.
- Repeat the counter out loud.
- Feel free to write the counter again with either the same fact or more supporting facts.
- Ask a friend for consent to practice this technique with them. (Never practice without their consent).
- Listen when someone calls you out. Listen to their words without interruption, acknowledge their truth is valid, and apologize.
- When receiving constructive feedback from a callout, head home and write out the bias that impacted that situation.
- Write the counter to that bias that includes the feedback that the person gave you.
- Next, write about how you can do better in the future.
Writing isn’t the only way to do this, but it’s my personal preferred method.
Another way is to build a group of people willing to work on biases together. How to do this? The group needs to institute a way to create a safe space to discuss bias:
- talk about the commitment,
- the rules of discussion,
- honoring the rules of discussion,
- Use a system that allows everyone to have an equal say in the discussion.
One way to do this is the circle method that Layla Saad speaks about in her workbook I referenced above.
Another way is to pass around a rock or a stick.
- Whoever has that rock or stick is allowed to speak.
- No one can interrupt the person who is speaking.
- The amount of time for each person should be the exact same time interval, so have a timer ready.
- Once the stick goes around the circle, have a quiet moment to process what was said.
- Then continue the circle to allow people to respond to what was said. Follow the same procedure as before so that everyone who wishes to speak has a chance to speak or they can pass the stick if they do not have a desire to speak.
Like I mentioned before, I prefer the writing method, and that is the one I use most extensively. However, the group session can be a powerful way to hold yourself and your friends accountable. It can also allow you to see things that you might have missed as well.
Yes, this process can be exhausting at times, but that is part of being a better and healthier person. It’s how we build a better world one piece at a time.