I’ve been on hiatus for several months now, and I’m not exactly tiptoeing back in, #blacklivesmatter. I’m also going to say the word “racist” a lot. If that makes you uncomfortable, this episode is definitely for you. Today, I’m talking to my white listeners about my own anti-racism work, through the lens of the Four Question framework of Byron Katie. The Four Questions have been helping me identify stressful thoughts and move past them into growth and action for more than five years. In this episode, I’ll be applying the Four Questions to my own stories around what it means to be racist. Was it fun? Not exactly. Did it move me past my own shame, guilt, and defensiveness so I can be a better ally out in the world? One hundred percent. Follow along if you are also invested in or just beginning to do your own anti-racism work.
All sponsorship income from the remainder of Season 2 of Do the Thing will be extended to the Movement for Black Lives. Learn more at m4bl.org.
Connect with Melissa
To read more about Whole30’s DEI initiatives, visit whole30.com/dei
To read more about the commitments we are making for the balance of the year, including financial commitments and accompliceship with the Whole30 HQ team and our partners, click here
Loving What Is, Byron Katie
Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad
How to be Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD
This Book is Anti-Racist, Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand
Note, the above are Amazon affiliate links—feel free to use them for reference only (the “peek inside” feature is valuable), and purchase from an independent Black-owned bookstore.
All proceeds from sponsored content in this episode will be donated to the Movement for Black Lives.
Hi, my name is Melissa Urban and your listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change, and make it stick.
I’ve been on hiatus for the last few months to recover from some health challenges, particularly ongoing symptoms related to a concussion I sustained more than a year ago. I’m going to talk about that next week. In fact, that episode was the one I planned on releasing first now that season two is back. I recorded that episode about six weeks ago when we were in the thick of COVID and shelter in place, and when self care and stress resilience were at the top of everyone’s mind today, however, though, the pandemic and aftermath of unemployment and financial insecurity presses on there are even more pressing matters at hand, the protection of Black and brown bodies and the call to action that Black lives matter. And I couldn’t in good conscious air an episode about cold showers without first speaking to the revolution,this country is currently witnessing. So I went back to the drawing board, working closely with Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison,
Whole30’s director of people and culture to think about what would be impactful in this moment for my largely white largely female audience. This episode I’m about to share is for you, if you are Black indigenous or a non-Black person of color, of course you can listen. But here as part of my own anti-racism work, I’m having a conversation with my white listeners to show them some of the introspection and self-awareness exercises I’ve done in my own life to help me better ally for you. And by the way, for those of you wondering, well, why didn’t you just have Kholi on this first podcast? Y’all, she’s tired. Kholi has been working so hard these last few weeks, especially she is emotionally, physically, spiritually drained. And I wanted to do something that didn’t require the labor of Black bodies, Black minds, Black spirits.
The reason I say this is for white people is also because I’m going to center myself here. One of the things we as white people don’t want to do in our anti-racism work out in the world is center ourselves. It’s not about our feelings, our sadness, our guilt, or our discomfort though, we may intend to show empathy or dedication to our own anti-racism work. It’s harmful to drop into Black spaces and center. How we feel in this moment to do the work effectively out in the world. We can’t make it about us. It has to be about the Black and Brown bodies. We are trying to uplift and protect. And also there needs to be conversation around this that doesn’t bring in Black or Brown voices. When I talked to Kholi about this, she said, and I’m quoting, “Black folks don’t just want white folks sitting around talking about their feelings and shock and sadness.
Largely movements are calling for white folks to have these kinds of conversations together.” My following is largely white and I hope you already trust me to tell you how to do hard things. Now is the perfect time for me to hop into this hard thing with you and align with other white people, to think about our action as accomplices together, instead of waiting to be told what to do. And as white people doing our own internal work while informing and supporting each other, we do have to examine our own feelings about racism and what it means to have knowingly or subconsciously upheld the system of racism our whole lives. We have to be willing to unpack what it means to be racist so that we can identify our story of what that means about us. What comes up when I hear that word, how does that word make me behave?
What do I believe about myself? When I hear that word, how could I show up in the world? If I dropped the stories I had around being racist, this is the inner work, the stuff you do in journals with your therapist, with friends and family who share your desires to be actively anti-racist. We process this here amongst ourselves. So we can be more effective out there. When we are allying for our Black communities, our indigenous communities, our LGBTQ plus communities, any community in which we are actively questioning and tearing down the structure of white supremacy and racism in my own anti-racism work. I’ve applied the work of Byron Katie and her four questions framework to stressful thoughts around my own racism. I’ve talked about Katie’s work before in episode 28 of this podcast, where I worked through my concussion and the lingering symptoms that affected every area of my life Katie’s practice is something I’ve been leaning on for more than five years to move past the stories that are holding me back from expressing and operating for the good of my highest self.
And when I realized a few months ago that I was holding on to a tremendous amount of shame around my own racism, and that shame was keeping me from doing my best work out in the world. I knew it was time to sit down with my journal and my four questions, worksheet, questioning your stories and stressful thoughts around anything, particularly racism doesn’t mean denying what is in fact, it’s just the opposite. I’m not trying to convince myself I’m not racist. I’m going through the process to accept that I am and have been. And if I’m being honest, will probably continue to be. Even as I work towards dismantling the system, I’m not always going to get it right. What I’m questioning is the stressful thoughts that come up around the idea. If I were able to simply accept my own racism, I be in a position of power to then identify it.
When it comes up, take action steps to combat it and move forward in the world. Exemplifying what I had learned, but if I’m too ashamed, defensive or guilty around the idea that in this moment I’m being racist, I’m not going to be able to do anything about it. This process has helped me move past my stories and around what it means for me to be racist and for people to call out my racism. And that allows me to fully show up in my anti-racism work out in the world. I’ll also add this. I never expected to share this with anybody. This work is the most private intimate self-help I can imagine. And I never imagined that I would be sharing it publicly with thousands of people via a podcast. And yet here we are all.
Sometimes the best way to learn is to simply follow along. If you’re new to Byron Katie, this might be an intense episode to start with, but listen anyway and see how her four question approach works in the real world. One more thing I’d like to mention before we begin as part of our commitment to Black lives matter, Whole30 is donating 100% of the sponsored income for the remainder of season two of Do the Thing to the Movement for Black Lives. Learn more at m4bl.org.
Byron Katie’s judge your neighbor worksheet is an investigation of stressful thoughts using her four question framework. It’s a way to question negative judgements about a person, a group of people, of state, of being, or in some cases yourself, as Byron Katie says the work is about awareness. It’s not about trying to change your mind, let the mind ask the questions and contemplate. This is how the four questions framework works. The first step is to identify the thought that is bringing us stress. And I’ll go into more detail about that when we start working through my own example, once you identify the thought that is bringing you stress, it’s time to dive into the four questions. The first question is to ask, is it true? Just a yes or no. The second question is can you absolutely know that it’s true. The third question is how do you react or what happens when you believe that thought? And the fourth question is who or what would you be without the thought?
It sounds a little esoteric right now. I understand, but I promise I will move you through the framework in a way that helps these questions make sense when we get to my own example. So normally I do the work of Byron Katie in session with my own trained facilitator here in salt Lake city. In this example, I worked through this on my own by downloading a judge, your neighbor worksheet, and doing the inquiry by myself. But in either case, I would show up with a situation in mind, just a big picture situation that I was struggling with. So in the past it’s been an argument with my son, an old wound with my parent or in this case, I’m showing up with stress around some of my own behaviors. And then either in my journal worksheet or with my practitioner, I would just brain dump a bunch of stressful thoughts without judgment and identify the one at the heart of my discomfort and pain.
And once I had identified that one thought the most painful thought that is the one I would begin the four question process of inquiry with now notice I said without judgment, that part is really important here. Normally you, if you were doing the work would be brain dumping, these thoughts in a journal or in your worksheet or with a trained counselor. But if you’re worried about judging yourself or someone else judging you, as you share, you’re going to hold back. And if you hold back your work here, won’t be as deep or as effective here in this podcast. I’m sharing my stressful thoughts with you. And the risk is even higher that you are going to pass judgment before even going through the process with me, however, I’m committed to this process for my highest good. So I am going to share the thoughts I journaled in full transparency here, because only through this kind of brutal self-awareness and commitment to honesty, can I really dig into the work that I need to do?
So here goes, here are the stressful thoughts I shared around my own behaviors, particularly around my own anti-racism work on my own. Judge, your neighbor worksheet people keep saying I’m not doing enough. That’s one of my stressful thoughts. I don’t know exactly what to say in each moment. That also brings me stress. If I get it wrong, I’ll be publicly crucified. That was a big one. Another stressful thought. I wish I didn’t have to think about racism. And I want you to know that I can barely say that one out loud because of the judgment. I am passing on myself in my own head, but I’m committed to transparency in this process and I am committed to doing the work. And finally, I am not racist. Again. I encourage you to listen without judgment. The point of this inquiry is to look straight on at the things you don’t want to say and don’t want to think about, and don’t want to address and drag them out the light and examine them through the process of the four questions framework.
Any one of those thoughts could and will be taken through the four question framework. I will do the work on every single one of these. However, for the purposes of this episode, I wanted to land on the one most impactful belief. It’s the one that has kept me up at night. It’s the one that makes me feel the most shame and the most pain and knowing the power of Byron Katie’s work. I decided to tackle the hardest thing. First, I am a racist. I’m a racist. This is the real stressful thought. And the one I would normally do inquiry on in my own life, just saying it out loud, makes me uncomfortable and shameful and feel pain. Just saying it out loud. However, in the process of self inquiry, I statements like I am racist are the hardest to work through on your own. This is something that Katie has talked about.
A number of times, I have had years of experience working with Kathryn Dixon. Who’s my Byron Katie certified practitioner here in Salt Lake. And I feel comfortable tackling this subject at this level. I could question the stressful thought I am racist, but for the purposes of this podcast, because part of this journey for me is sharing with you to invite you in, to do your own work. I’m going to approach it as Katie would suggest you approach it by judging your neighbor. There’s a reason it’s called the judge, your neighbor worksheet, because it’s a lot easier to judge someone else and to do the work on someone else than it is to turn it around and do it on yourself. Although spoiler, you end up in the same place. So to turn the statement around, to make it about them, this is the stressful thought I am going to do inquiry on.
I need people to stop calling me racist. That’s the stressful thought. And that’s what we’re going to explore. Now, by the way, you’re going to hear me repeat this stressful thought frequently throughout the course of the inquiry. And the reason is that I want to continue to remind myself that this thought this is the thing that was bringing me the most shame I’m going to keep calling it out. And as you’ll hear in my voice, even the way I relate to this stressful thought is going to change just by doing the practice of inquiry. You’ll see what I mean. I just wanted to explain why it might sound a little repetitive at first, the first question and the Byron Katie process is to ask, is it true? I need people to stop calling me racist. Is it true? Now again, I’ve been doing this a really long time, but already I can see that it’s not true.
I can’t say that. That’s true. Do I need this? Like, do I need this? For what? Survival people calling me racist. It’s not going to kill me. It’s not going to physically harm me. Do I need this for peace of mind? I mean, I could ignore them. I could block them. I could unfriend them. So do I need people to stop calling me racist? Is it true? No, honestly, the answer is no, I can’t say yes to this. So already, even in this very first step, I am already breaking down this stressful thought. Now, if you aren’t with me yet, if you did say yes to this, yes, I do need people to stop calling me racist. Yes. Is it true? Yes, it is true. Then we’re gonna move on to the second question, which is, can you absolutely know that this is true and this is where a good practitioner is going to help you tease this out.
Can you absolutely know that people calling you racist, aren’t maybe serving your highest good or that they’re not calling you into deeper work. Can you absolutely know that? Can you absolutely know for sure that your path, your plan doesn’t have anything to do with examining your own racism? Can you absolutely know that people calling you in like this, aren’t the first step in your own growth? Very often here, as I’m working with my practitioner, she’s asking these questions. Can you absolutely know that it’s true. And my brain wants to dig in. Yes, I absolutely know it, but there’s something in my body that just shifts for a moment that sees for a moment. Ooh, like maybe that is for my highest. Good. And then she’s got me because even if there is the smallest doubt, the smallest out, I have to say no, I can’t absolutely know that it’s true.
And just that admission alone weakens the hold. That stressful thought has on me. Now there’s one more trick up my sleeve because my practitioner taught me this trick as well. Sometimes if you’re feeling especially stubborn and digging your heels in and saying, yes, I absolutely know that it’s true. Katie will ask, can you think of a point in your own life? Even if it’s just a moment where it hasn’t been true. So I need people to stop calling me racist. Has there ever been a moment in my life where someone did call me racist and had actually served me? Maybe I said something that was unintentionally racist and I hurt someone and I didn’t mean to, and someone pointed it out and I was actually really grateful for it. And that’s just another way of asking myself. Can I absolutely know that it’s true because if I can find just one example in my own life where it wasn’t true, then I can no longer say I absolutely know.
It’s true. Again. Remember at this point in the inquiry, I’m not asking you to give this stressful thought up. All we’re trying to do at this point. All I want to do with these first two questions is recognize that I’ve had this stressful thought that I am treating as if it is 100% true all of the time. And it’s bringing me so much stress and pain. And in asking myself, is it true? I can have a moment of realization where it’s not even that alone is so incredibly powerful, even look that probably took us a minute and 30 seconds. But even in just those first two questions, we are already starting to realize that the stressful thought I need people to stop calling me racist. Maybe that’s not even true. Let’s move on to the third question. How do I behave? How do I show up in the world?
When I believe the stressful thought that I need people to stop calling me racist. This is the part where I turned inward and I journaled and I bulleted here. How do I show up when I have this belief? Well, when I believe the thought that I need people to stop calling me racist, I show up defensively. I’ve got my walls up. I’ve got my armor on. And before anyone even says anything, I am playing defense. When I believe this stressful thought. When I believe that I need people to stop calling me racist, I’m quiet. I show up really quietly. Look, if I don’t say anything or do anything, they can’t accuse me of being racist. I avoid anything that has to do with racism or race. I don’t want to talk about any piece of our differences or any piece of what makes us unique.
I don’t want to talk about anything that could potentially get me called out as being racist. When I believe this stressful thought, I avoid the news. I avoid social media posts. I avoid any sort of education. I don’t want to show up in this space at all. And by this space, I kind of just mean the world. I don’t even want to show up in the world. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. And when I believe this thought, I seek people out who look like me, who think like me and who behave like me because they are the least likely to call me out. This is how I show up in the world when I believe this stressful thought now, because I have a lot of experience with the work. And because I’ve worked with a talented practitioner for much of my own self inquiry, normally you could just jump to the fourth question, but I’m going to go deeper into this third question of how am I in the world.
When I believe this stressful thought I’m going to break down. What else I think and how else I behave. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist, where do I feel this in my body? I feel this in my chest, my chest gets so tight and it physically hurts. It feels like I can’t breathe my shoulders round in my throat, tightens up. I tense up everything from the waist up and I just kind of cave into myself. When I believe this stressful thought I’m tight and it hurts and I can’t breathe and I can’t speak. And I create this protective, hard shell with my body. That’s how I feel this. When I believe this stressful thought, how do I see people? When I believe this stressful thought, people need to stop calling me racist. How do I see people in this moment?
I see people as the enemy. I see them as my opponent. I see them as my, my Punisher. I see people as judgmental. I see them as mean. I see them as antagonistic. They’re scary. People are scary. When I believe this stressful thought, they’re just waiting in the wings to find something you’re doing wrong and call you out about it. They’re petty. I see people as petty. I see people as superior acting superior thinking. They’re superior. I see people as being on the other side of this line. There’s this line. And I’m all by myself on this one line and people are in this big old team on the other side of that line. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. I see people as the enemy and that’s painful. That’s painful because it’s, it’s not how I am. It’s not, it doesn’t feel true to me. And yet when I believe this stressful thought, that’s what I’m attaching to.
How do I see racism? When I believe this stressful thought, people need to stop calling me racist? How do I see racism? I see racism as deeply shameful. I see it as the worst thing you could accuse someone of and the worst thing to be. And when I believe this stressful thought, people need to stop calling me racist. I believe that racism is a dirty little secret that I should never ever talk about. I should never bring it up. It should never enter my conversations. Certainly nobody should ever bring it up with me. It’s so shameful and so despicable and makes me such a bad person that I should never, ever, ever talk about it. Remember what I said about not judging, I am working very hard not to judge myself for those thoughts. And also I committed to full transparency. And that’s what I wrote on my worksheet.
That’s how I think about racism. When I’m attached to this thought to take it a step further, how do I see the call out? When I believe this stressful thought people need to stop calling me racist? How do I see the call out? I see it as punitive. I see it as petty. I see it as targeted. It is like a spear. They are throwing at me to pin me to this label. I see the call out as something done in opposition. I see it as an act of aggression, an act of war. I see it as a separation. I see the call out as a separation of them and me. They are better than I am. I see the call out as embarrassing. I see it as shameful. I see the call out. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist.
I see the call out as the thing to avoid it is the thing more than anything else in my life right now that I need to do whatever I need to do to avoid it. And then finally, what does the future look like when I believe this stressful thought? When I believe that people need to stop calling me racist, what does the future look like? For me? It looks like I’m on guard all the time. It looks like I am afraid to speak up about anything to show up in any way it looks like I am constantly on the defense. I don’t want to engage. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to tell you what I believe. I don’t even want to have any beliefs because when I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. The future looks pretty darn lonely because everyone else is the enemy.
And I’m over here all by myself. It looks like in the future, I make my circle real small. It’s only going to include people who wouldn’t even think about calling me out like this. It looks like I’m hiding behind my own walls. It looks like I’m terrified to share how I feel about anything. It looks like I’m unwilling, completely unwilling to engage with people that I don’t know and don’t trust in this stressful thought. People need to stop calling me racist. My future looks pretty stagnant. It looks stagnant. I’m not changing. I’m not growing. I’m not moving in any one direction. I’m not sharing. I’m not connecting. I’m just over here all by myself. Trying really, really hard. Not to be noticed at all. That’s what the future looks like. Now. Here is the point in the four question framework where my therapist will read back to me like one long narrative.
What I just said and buckle up because this is going to be incredibly painful. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. I show up in the world, defensive. I’ve got walls up and my armor up before anyone even says anything, I’m quiet. If I don’t say anything or do anything, they can’t accuse me of being racist. I avoid anything that has to do with racism or race or people’s differences. I just leave it alone. I avoid the news, social media, any kind of education. I don’t want to show up in this space at all. I seek out people who look like me, who think like me, who behave like me because they’re less likely to call me out. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. My chest gets tight and it hurts.
It feels like I can’t breathe my shoulders round in my throat, tightens up. And I just kind of cave into myself and create a protective shell around myself. When I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. I see people as the enemy. They’re my opponent. They’re my Punisher. They’re judgmental mean antagonistic, always looking for what I’m doing wrong. They’re just waiting in the wings to find something wrong and call me out. They’re petty. They’re superior. They’re on the other side of the line. And I’m over here all by myself. Everyone else is on the other team. People are the enemy. When I believe this stressful thought, people need to stop calling me racist. I see racism as deeply shameful, evil, the worst of the worst, the worst thing you could accuse someone of and the worst thing to be. I see racism as a dirty secret.
I should never talk about it. I should never bring it up. It should never come up in conversation. No one should ever talk about it with me. It is so shameful and it makes me such a bad person that I should never even mention the word again. When I believe this stressful thought, people need to stop calling me racist. I see the call out as punitive and petty. It’s targeted. It’s like a spear and opponent is throwing to pin me to this label. It’s an act of aggression, an act of war. It’s a separation of them versus me. They’re better than I am. It’s embarrassing. It’s shameful. It’s a guilt trip. It’s them wanting to make themselves feel better. It is the thing to avoid the call out is the enemy. And when I believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist.
The future looks like I’m on guard all the time. It looks like I’m afraid to speak up about anything. I’m constantly on the defense. I don’t want to engage. I don’t want to talk. I don’t even want to have any beliefs in the future. It looks lonely. People are the enemy and I’m over here all alone. It looks like I make my circle small, full only of people who won’t even think about calling me out like this. The future looks like me hiding behind my own walls. Terrified to share how I feel about anything, completely unwilling, to engage with people. I don’t know. And don’t trust. It looks stagnant. I’m not changing. Growing, moving, sharing, connecting. I’m just over here all alone, trying hard not to be noticed.
Now this is the point in the four question framework where I ask myself, can I see a reason to drop this stressful thought? I’m not asking myself to drop it. I’m just saying based on the story I just painted about how I show up in the world and what the future looks like. Can I at least see a reason to drop this stressful thought? This is the part in the work where I always get incredibly emotional. And when I hear all of the ways that I show up in the world and how it affects my body and what it makes the future look like, heck yes, I can absolutely see a million reasons to drop this stressful thought. And here’s the part where I usually take a deep breath and gravity issue and white my eyes. And we start over because the next question, the fourth question is how would you behave if you just didn’t believe this stressful thought.
And as I answer that question right now, here with you recording this episode, I have a big smile on my face. I’m sitting up taller. My shoulders are back. I’m breathing more deeply because the way I show up and the world that I live in, if I just didn’t believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. If I just didn’t buy it, are you still showing up defensive? Do you have walls up? Do you have armor up? Of course not. If I just didn’t believe the thought that people need to stop calling me racist, I’m not walking around defensive at all. My walls are down. I’m wide open to feedback. I’m engaging. I’m sharing my ideas. I’m not quiet. I am voicing my opinion and my values. I am exchanging ideas with other people. I’m completely willing to talk about things like racism or race or people’s differences.
I’m willing to look into it and willing to educate myself. I’m watching social media posts. I’m learning from Black educators and activists. I’m actively seeking that out because I just, I’m not buying the idea that people need to stop calling me racist. If I don’t have any attachment to that thought anymore, then I’m purposefully seeking out people who don’t look like me, who have something to teach me. And I’m actively seeking out the people who are going to call me out because they’re going to be the ones that hold me accountable. If I’m just not believing that people need to stop calling me racist, then I am looking forward to people holding me accountable and helping me see my own biases and blind spots. And that already feels so much more authentic, so much more like me. So when I just don’t believe the thought that people need to stop calling me racist, how do I see people?
Are they still the enemy? Are they my opponent? Are they judgmental? Are they mean, are they petty? Of course they’re not people who take the time to point out my racist tendencies or actions or thoughts are my friends and my allies and my educators. These are the people who care enough about me and the people around them to say, Hey Melissa, what you’re saying is like not okay. Or it’s rooted in bias or there’s actually problems with what you’re thinking or doing. They’re doing what they should be doing, sharing what they’ve learned and sharing it with me so that I can do better. Are they on the other side of the line? And I’m over here all by myself? Heck no. If I’m just not believing this idea that people need to stop calling me racist. They are on this side of the line with me and we are all learning together.
We’re listening together. We’re talking to each other about these really important conversations. And when I do something that’s not okay. That’s harmful to my community or harmful to friends or family. When my impact doesn’t match my intention and they call me out on it. I’m grateful. It means they’re on my team. If I just don’t believe that people need to stop calling me racist, how do I see racism? Is it still shameful? Is it still taboo? Is it still a secret? Is it something you should never look out or never talk about? Because it’s just too dirty a concept to bring up? Of course not. Of course not. I see racism for what it is. I see racism in myself and in other people in biases and behaviors, both conscious and subconscious. And I see it for the system that we have all been indoctrinated into the system that benefits me as a white person.
And I see it as something we have to look at, we have to talk about, we have to name, we have to identify, we have to do that, or I won’t be able to do my own work. And we collectively won’t be able to do the work to dismantle this system once and for all. So no, it’s not shameful in that. It’s not something I need to keep hidden my own racism. I don’t need to keep that hidden. If anything, I need to talk about it. I need to bring it out. I need to share what I did and how I’ve learned from it and how I know now that it’s wrong and what I’m going to do the next time. If anything, I, now, if I’m just not believing this thought, see racism is something we have to drag into the light. It is for my highest good to drag it into the light, both the racism I observed societally and the racism I see in myself. I mean, if I just, I’m going to pause for a minute. You’re not going to notice, but I’m going to take a pause because that feels so huge for me. And I just, I just need a moment to observe the impact of that before I go on just a minute,
if I’m just not believing the thought people need to stop calling me racist, how do I see the call out? Is the call out now? Is it punitive? Is it petty? Is it targeted? Is that the enemy? Of course it’s not. I welcome the call out. If I just don’t believe the thought that people need to stop calling me racist. I welcome it because if I am doing or staying or behaving or thinking in a way that does not match the impact I want to have in the world, if I’m subconsciously succumbing to my biases, if I’ve done something out of carelessness or out of ignorance, I want to be called out. I welcome it. I see it as kind. I see it as caring. I see it as collaborative. I see it as an act of allyship. I see it as the kindest thing you could do for me in that moment, because you can see that I am not acting in my highest integrity and for my highest good.
And you love me enough to tell me that and to tell me how my behavior or my actions or my words impact you. The call out is no longer the enemy. If I just don’t believe this thought, it’s no longer something to avoid. Sure. I would hope that I wouldn’t do something that word will crier a call out. But if I receive it, it is something that I now dropping that thought can work through and process and can honestly say, thank you. Thank you for helping me with my own anti-racism work. And finally, when I just don’t believe this stressful thought, people need to stop calling me racist. If I’m just not buying it, what does the future look like? It looks bright and hopeful. I am out walking in the world open and ready to learn and ready to receive. I’m connecting with so many new people who have so many new things to teach me.
I’m sharing my views and accepting feedback on those views. I’m sharing what I’ve learned with other people. My circle expands. It doesn’t look lonely anymore. It doesn’t look like me hiding. It doesn’t look like me being stagnant. It doesn’t look like me all alone, trying not to be noticed. It looks like me doing the work out there in the real world and being willing and grateful for the feedback that is going to accompany that work because that feedback is going to make me even better and even better ally, a better accomplice, a more effective, more effective with a better, more positive impact out there in the world. Everything looks brighter if I just don’t believe this stressful thought that people need to stop calling me racist. And this is the part in the work where I am now beaming and smiling because I have just, you know, once you see something, you can’t unsee it.
I walked into this work and this worksheet really attached to this idea that people need to stop calling me racist. And once you turn that around and really open up and unpack what it means, how you show up when you believe the thought what your life could be like without it, I can no longer go back and feel attached to that because I see that there’s another way. And it has nothing to do with telling myself I’m not racist. It has nothing to do with saying racism doesn’t exist. It has nothing to do with saying racism. Isn’t bad. It’s just the detachment to my story about what it means. When people call me out for my own racism, it’s magical. It is absolutely magical. Now there’s one more part to the Byron Katie process. And that’s, what’s called a turnaround. You do the turnaround at the very, very end.
And what the turnaround asks you to do is take your original statement and then flip it to the opposite and ask yourself, could the opposite of this statement be equally true? Is it equally as likely to be true? Now when I do this work and when others do this work, it’s very tempting just to kind of want to skip to the turnaround, but you really do have to go through all of the four question process in as much detail as you can before you can really feel the turnaround, but let’s try some turnarounds for those people need to stop telling me I’m racist. One of the turnarounds for that would be people need to keep telling me I’m racist. Could that be equally as true? Yeah, of course it could. People do need to keep telling me I’m racist because when I am behaving in a way that is inconsistent with my anti-racism intentions, I want to know.
So yes, it is equally true that people actually need to keep telling me I’m racist. Another turnaround here, and this one’s a little less concrete, but people need to stop calling me racist. Another turnaround is people need to stop calling me not racist. Is this true? And I can also see how that could be true in that if I’m calling myself out or if I’m talking about my own anti-racism work and I’m sharing a time that I messed up, that I, my biases came into play, that I said something wrong that I had a negative impact. And I surround myself with people who are like, it’s okay, Melissa, you had good intentions. Don’t beat yourself up for it. You know, I’m sure they knew what you meant. I don’t need that. I don’t need people to like coddle and try to make me feel better because I’m a nice person.
I don’t need people to tell me I’m not racist when I’m clearly being racist. I need them to call me out on it. So that one’s a little bit more convoluted, but I can also see that that is equally true. People need to stop calling me not racist. Yes. When I’m being racist, people need to call me out on it and they don’t need to try to make me feel better or tell me it’s not a big deal or tell me it doesn’t matter. Or tell me that my intentions were good. Absolutely. I can also see that that is true. And that my friends is the work of Byron Katie.
It’s an incredibly intimate journey sharing this practice that I normally do either alone or with my trained practitioner, sharing it publicly in the podcast. I went through at once with my concussion a few episodes ago. And it was a lot, this was 10 times scarier. I kind of didn’t want to see what I would find. You know, as I mentioned in the beginning, when you go through this work and you’re sharing your stressful thoughts and how you show up and what it makes you think it’s really easy to judge yourself for even having these thoughts and to feel like a bad person for having them. And I guess I already felt so much guilt and shame around my own racism, that it was really hard for me to put these down to words and like really come forward in all transparency and say, this is the work that I did.
And also when I talked to Dr. Kohli, our director of people and culture at Whole30, when I talked to Shanna and a few other people on our team about what this first podcast episode should look like, we all agreed that this could be a really powerful experience for me to share as someone who is working to ally as someone who wants to be an accomplice, as someone who wants to actively continue my own anti-racism work and share my learnings with you, that is this episode. So I encourage you to pick up Loving What Is by Byron Katie, or go to her website, byronkatie.com, download the judge, your neighbor worksheet, and work through some of your own feelings about your own anti-racism journey. You can do the work on this same question. I did people need to stop calling me racist, or you can do the work on some other aspect of your own journey.
Take the stressful thoughts, question. Each of them using the four questions framework, turn it around and see what changes I want to thank you for listening and for being here for this experience, because the act of sharing it here with you was incredibly profoundly transformational for me. And that only means that I will be able to show up for my Black community members that much more effectively. So with that, I have so much gratitude. Thank you so very much for listening. Just a reminder that 100% of the sponsored content dollars from the remainder of season two of do the thing will be donated to the movement for Black lives. Thank you so much for supporting do the thing and our sponsors, knowing that that sponsorship money is going to a very worthy organization.
Thanks for joining me today on do the thing. You can continue the conversation with me @melissau on Instagram. If you have a question for dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at three, two one two zero nine one four eight zero. Do the thing is part of the onward project. A family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin all about how to make your life better. Check out the other onward project podcasts, happier with Gretchen Rubin side hustle school, happier in Hollywood. And everything happens. If you liked this episode, please subscribe, leave a five star review and tell your friends to do the thing. See you next week.
Thanks for listening!
Continue the conversation with me @melissau on Instagram. If you have a question for Dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480.
Do the Thing is part of The Onward Project, a family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin—all about how to make your life better. Check out the other Onward Project podcasts– Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Side Hustle School, Happier in Hollywood, and Everything Happens.
If you liked this episode, please subscribe, leave a 5-star review, and tell your friends to Do the Thing.