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My White Male Arrogance—Oh, Darn!

I keep running into myself! This time, I ran headlong into my white male privilege. I pride myself in thinking I’ve grown in consciousness, and then, bam! I encounter something new to wrestle with. Today, it’s the hidden belief that “I know what is right for others.”

It can be the simplest thing. My wife was driving into a parking lot, and I said, “Park here,” when she knew exactly where she planned to park. She was on the phone with our daughter, and I interrupted their conversation and said, “Tell her about next weekend.” I didn’t inquire, I just told her what to do.

Instead of using the Resilient Mindset of Curiosity and asking her with sensitivity, I often tell my wife what she should do—as if it’s true. She is strong and wise, so often enough, she lets me know I’m wrong. Uncovering this Cultural Pattern is humiliating, but my shame turns to humility when I see how my arrogance hurts her. Oh, dear! What other things do I think I know about the world that I have gotten wrong?

Our Cultural Patterns are those intergenerational beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors passed down to us about how we should behave. They come from our ancestors, family, community, and experiences growing up. Cultural Patterns shape how we view the world and ourselves.

My white, male, privileged Cultural Patterns run deep, as my ancestors on my dad’s side were generals in the army going back to George Washington. In my house, my father was “always right,” no questions allowed, and he let me know it! My mom was a homemaker who catered to my father’s every need. This set in stone his male privilege and elevated his sense of importance—a pattern passed down to me.

My wife doesn’t need me to tell her what to do, feel, or say. Over time, I have become much more mindful and less defensive when she reminds me that she is an autonomous human being. The Resilient Mindset of Curiosity is our strongest tool as we try to change our ingrained patterns. When I shift into Curiosity, I see the huge difference it makes.

Recognizing my humanity brings great self-compassion. Life is both/and. Yes, I have an enculturated tendency to be arrogant, and I am a full-hearted, loving husband, father, and grandfather. One of my greatest desires is to pass along equity, respect, and honor to my kids and grandkids. I want to model how to treat everyone with dignity and respect and bring a sense of humility to all we don’t know about each other. Like all of us, I am a work in progress! ❤️

How can the Resilient Mindset of Curiosity open doors to those Cultural Patterns that remain hidden in you?

With Resilience,

Chuck and the Dovetail Learning Team