Running Inside-Out Diversity workshops has truly been a blessing and a challenge, testing whether I am committed to this task or not. I have been to places of light with participants as well as reached dead-ends in some cases.
I have encouraged participants to bring curiosity to difficult situations, challenging their own perceptions and judgements. I have asked participants to reflect on their projections (what I think you think of me), while being open to another truth. I have asked participants to find empathy in moments where judgement and ego want to take over. I have challenged participants to stay in connection with another, even through moments of disconnection and discomfort (something I learned through a wonderful practice called ‘Circling’). Overall, I have basically asked participants to go into a place where opposites exist together: curiosity vs judgement; projections vs truth; empathy (heart) vs apathy (ego); connection vs disconnection. It is tempting to avoid being in this place of opposites as we generally feel comfortable leaning to one side of the spectrum. For example, you may remain in a place of judging someone else as you do not have the capacity or the energy to become curious enough about a person to find and/or experience a different truth. Another example is assuming that you know what others think about you, prompting you to possibly play into this without really knowing the truth or being able to check. We choose to embrace one side of the spectrum because in essence it is easier and ‘makes’ our world more predictable and ‘safer’ to live in. However, if we really want to change and grow and bring about deeper transformation, there is a need to embrace the whole spectrum and learn how to sit in it. I remember I was once battling with feeling extreme opposite feelings towards someone, experiencing much anxiety and guilt at the fact that I felt this way. A good friend of mine comforted me in this by simply stating that I am merely experiencing the fullness of this person and that it’s okay. I had never really thought about it from that perspective and in that moment I felt that my eyes had opened.
A recipe of courage, vulnerability and presence is necessary to embrace opposites and differences in oneself and others (i.e. diversity). During one of the Inside-Out Diversity workshops that I was running, a participant voiced that it’s difficult to ask someone about themselves (bringing curiosity) because they might be told to mind their own business. This is a possibility for sure. Bringing curiosity takes vulnerability as well as a sense of being open to negative reactions. The trick is to not let that reaction determine the next interaction –this is where presence fits in. The irony of this recipe is that we never truly know how the dish will turn out, even when using the same ingredients! I can tell you that there will be many pleasant surprises, amongst the not so pleasant. I dare you…J.
I, Chelsey May, am committed to embracing diversity and holding spaces for people to explore curiosity, projections, empathy, appreciation and connection.
~Chelsey May is the founder of The Creativity Revolution.