When we first develop an understanding of Lateral Violence we are excited to share our understanding with others and to spread the good word about changing it. This can often to lead to a perpetuation of the cycle of oppression itself. We cannot transform Lateral Violence by pointing out where others are doing it! This just creates more of the same negative feeling and separation amongst us. What we recommend is that you work on your own response to laterally violent behaviors as they show up. By changing our behavior towards those around use we shift the patterns in our relationships. We can’t change other people and trying to leads to a feeling of disempowerment. Instead of becoming defensive, get curious and ask the other party what’s going on for them. What do they need and what would have them feel supported and safe. Our first instinct is to point it out, to label it and in doing so making the other person feel shamed and blamed. Instead, ask yourself what would create a sense of inclusion, how do we increase understanding and connectivity and most importantly, how do we work through conflicts together in a way that creates a sense of empowerment for all.
Practice working on yourself and your ideal response to behavior you find personally triggering. Visualize yourself repeatedly responding in a way that feels empowering for you and the other person. REMEMBER, we feel empowered when we are able to fully express ourselves with each other without feeling oppressed or marginalized. We are often our own worst enemy as we have internalized the voice of the oppressor so please remember to work on you first. It can be incredibly fulfilling and freeing. Go gently.