The Truth About Trust


Last week I wrote about self-trust—that “inner knowing.” I shared that trust is about maintaining integrity with ourselves and tuning into our bodies to access that inner wisdom.

It’s easier said than done.

As I’ve started to educate myself more about institutional racism, implicit bias and white privilege, where does trusting myself fit in? How can I possibly trust myself and my perceptions as they pertain to institutions, systems, education, customs, the house and neighborhood I live in, where I shop when I know that most of my actions come from my unconscious biases?

Simple. I can’t. And that’s the work, I believe, for all of us who have benefited from white privilege and supremacy. When it comes to how the world works, my job is to challenge whatever I thought I knew and how I continue to perceive things. It’s really the least I can do.

Everything I’ve ever learned comes through the lens of white privilege first, and I can’t trust those perceptions. If anything, what I’m learning is to practice

.

For example, in the first draft of last week’s post, I started to talk about the “American Dream,” and then realized that leaves out all Native Americans. The American Dream as I know it is an invention of white people for white people. My version of the American Dream isn’t available to everyone in the same way, but I’d only considered it from my white point of view.

Just as we all have been socialized and conditioned to a world of white supremacy, we also were socialized to norms and beliefs that may or may not serve us. Dismantling racism, on an individual level, is much like dismantling negative self-beliefs. Some of the most important work I do with people is knocking down the beliefs that keep them small. Now I get to ask myself, what am I believing that keeps BiPOC small?

How do I go about dismantling those belief systems for myself and help others to do it?

Raising awareness It means questioning longheld beliefs, especially the ones we are sure are true. Poking holes in our logic. Finding examples that prove the opposite is true. Our brains won’t like it. It’s hard work. We will feel anxious, out of sorts and frustrated. Good. It means we’re getting somewhere. On the other side of that is freedom. For everyone.

Step 1: Awareness

Institutional racism is rooted in false beliefs that have then been reinforced over time. In order to break a bad thought habit, we need to see it. The first step is becoming aware of what we think, whether we’re talking about a negative belief about oneself or a negative belief about another person or entire race. We can’t fix it if we don’t see it as a problem. This is the turning point that George Foreman’s murder offers us: to see what (for some of us) was previously unseen.

Step 2: Acknowledge and Accept Acknowledge what you’ve been thinking and how you’ve been acting on that. That’s a big deal.

I now realize that every single time I’ve written about the American Dream, I’ve been writing about the WHITE American Dream. It makes me shudder, but I need to let it sink in. Admitting that this is where I’ve been is a step in the right direction. While it’s not the end of the road, I’d argue that this is the step we often miss. We try to move to action before we’ve fully acknowledged where we ARE. (It’s really important NOT to criticize yourself right now, or you’ll start defending, rationalizing and otherwise wind up back where you started.)

Step 3: Ask

  • Where is there evidence for the opposite belief?

  • What would I do differently if I believed this opposite belief?

  • What is one small step you can take that will change your behavior? (One small change. Start small.)

Step 4: Act

Based on the answers to the questions above, plan to take that small action. Tell someone else or ask for help to establish accountability.

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Portland, OR

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