Calling Out, Inviting In: Difficult Conversations

Talking about what disturbs you is a mindfulness practice that matures with wise intent and patience, and the holidays is a great time to practice.

Regardless of your race, no one likes being called out. It doesn’t matter how thoughtful or thoughtless the message is delivered; no one likes hearing or having the impact of their behavior pointed out. We feel vulnerable and over-exposed. Our delusion of being perfect or acceptable is shattered. The ego goes into distress and defense.

Fundamentally, we feel shamed when the impact of our behavior is called out. In fact, there is shame all around. The person that feels they must confront our behavior is often also shamed from both being impacted by our behavior and because they must confront it. It’s not easy discerning our immediate feelings. If you are like me, you will first feel anger, which is attempting to soften the psychic jolt of shame. Bottom line, being called out feels awful!

We can acknowledge that this is tender territory, right?  So, we proceed with caution. Assuming good intent, here are a few strategies. For those being called out: (1) Take a breath and open to learning; (2) acknowledge that ‘ego bruising’ is often necessary to wake up and transform habits of harm, and (3) be humbled by the bravery of those confronting you – consider it an attempt to foster a more honest relationship. For those calling out: (1) Take a breath and open to learning; (2) be willing to recognize in the other the fragility of being human, which includes ignorance and innocence; and (3) imagine you are softly holding hands with the person you are calling out, inviting them into relationship over disgrace.

And know this: Even with our best efforts, it can be messy. Primarily, we want to keep our fingers on the pulse of good intention and do our best. When it feels hopeless (it's only temporary), it can be wise to be the first one to offer a warm, forgiving hug - if only in your mind.

When we are present, genuinely curious, and can allow pause and space in our exchanges, others, as well as ourselves, can come out of hiding into connection. We can then explore together what it truly means to be human. This practice is good medicine for the heart of humanity.

4 thoughts on “Calling Out, Inviting In: Difficult Conversations”

  1. Thank you. This helped ease my mind and heart about an experience this past week. It arose out of necessity… indeed messy and beautiful all at once.

  2. This is helpful, to take a breath to step back, identify the trigger of atomic nervous system fight/ flight biological reaction. To identify ego bruising, be humble by bravery of those confronting you , be open to learn, see hope, recognize in others fragility of being human, away to foster a more genuinely curious allow the pause , space to come out of hiding into connection, to foster more honest relationship. This is a life changing skill, thinking back 20 years ago if I had this knowledge it may have changed the course of my future. I appreciate the detail in your examples to gently move to positive resolution.

  3. This blog and the meditation “holding on and letting go”. Is so helpful to me. Family stressors have been accentuated because of the upcoming holidays. Pausing and thoughtful soul searching with the help of your questions is much appreciated.

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