Do you ever find a reference to a book you’ve been meaning to re-read then have two or three mention it in the same week? That was Melinda Gates’ book The Moment of Lift for me last week. Although the book is about empowering women, it has so much relevance to the empowerment of the LGBTQIA+ community. Rather than poorly summarize her, I will quote the book:
“Overcoming the need to create outsiders is our greatest challenge as human beings. It is the key to ending deep inequality. We stigmatize and send to the margins people who trigger in us the feelings we want to avoid. This is why there are so many old and weak and sick and poor people on the margins of society. We tend to push out the people who have qualities we’re most afraid we will find in ourselves- and sometimes we falsely ascribe qualities we disown to certain groups, then push those groups out as a way of denying those traits in ourselves. This is what drives dominant groups to push different racial and religious groups to the margins.
And we’re not often honest about what’s happening. If we’re on the inside and see someone on the outside, we often say to ourselves, ‘I’m not in that situation because I’m different.’ But that’s just pride talking. We could easily be that person. We all have things inside us. We just don’t like to confess what we have in common with outsides because it’s too humbling. It suggests that maybe success and failure aren’t entirely fair. And if you know you got the better deal, then you have to be humble, and it hurts to give up your sense of superiority and say, “I’m not better than others.” So instead we invent nexuses for our need to exclude. We say it’s about merit or transition when it’s really just protecting our privilege and our pride.”
I am all in for the rights and inclusion of all people but in order to be all in, I must first do the inner work and be honest about who I exclude including the parts of myself that I push away.
I believe this is one of the greatest gifts of coaching. There is a moment when my clients see parts of themselves that they have resisted or rejected. Only in finding that moment can they accept ourselves, grow and move into greater acceptance and inclusion of others. It is human to avoid the sting of this pain but without it we miss the opportunity to move others from outsiders to insiders.
In order to open our hearts and arms to others, we have to first embrace ourselves, identify our thoughts and feelings and learn to do the work that will allow us to fully include ourselves in the conversation. It starts with us. It starts with the dark places waiting to shine. I’d love to help you. Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gates, Melinda. (2019). NY, NY. Flatiron Books.