Sometimes we are ourselves. We are kind, patient, humble, present–available to our best human qualities. A woman drops a bag and we stop to help gather the groceries. A coworker finds out his son has won a scholarship and we genuinely share his pride and joy. A neighbor tells a racist joke and we confront them with integrity. A conversation turns to politics and we speak truthfully without demeaning those who hold different opinions. Generosity, empathy, courage, self-discipline, and other positive qualities flow easily toward others and ourselves.
And then some days we are not ourselves. We are disconnected, scattered, anxious, and reactive. We live on the brittle surface of our lives, easily battered about by emotions. We explode into fits of rage at our children. We simmer with jealousy at a co-worker’s success. We write angry insults online to people who hold opposing political views. And at night we lie in bed filled with shame, self-loathing, judgement and despair.
How is it possible for any of us, in any genuine way, to function as our best selves? How can we live as generous, kind, and loving people when there is so much meanness and disrespect in our work settings, our families, and our communities? How can we keep from being reactive when our inner world is so full of judgement, shame, and bitterness? How is it possible to work with others in our community when we have real and valid reasons to be afraid, angry, or repulsed by various people we encounter?
Most of us have given up on these questions. We are doing the best that we can. We avoid difficult conversations. We “unfriend” those who anger us online. We hide our disgust from friends and coworkers. We repress, deflect, numb or medicate our most dangerous feelings and then try to be civil. But do repression and avoidance really work?
The Finding Our Way Conference offers three days of facilitated discussions, practical workshops, and public gatherings for anyone who wants to deepen their capacity to respond to difficult people, divisive issues, and destructive emotions from a more grounded and graceful place.
Over three days the conference will include the following public offerings:
- A night of personal stories and music by a diverse group of local community leaders.
- An honest public discussion about our struggle and issues around race in Southern Oregon.
- A second public conversation on local tensions around the unhoused in Southern Oregon.
- A variety of free skills-based workshops on engaging difficult people, issues, and emotions. Workshop titles include: Calling All Conflict Avoiders!; How to Keep Your Cool When You are Mad as Hell; Finding Our Way Though Political Correctness; Why is the Grim Reaper so Grim? How Compassion Can Alleviate the Fear of Death; Learn How to Talk About Race; Tools for Deepening Your Relationships; How Do I Respond to a World in Crisis?; and Cultivating Calm and Resilience in Stressful Times.
- A public talk on mercy and compassion by celebrated author, Anne Lamott.
- A day-long personal retreat on the inner-work of compassion led by Mark Yaconelli and featuring a conversation with Anne Lamott.
All of these offerings are open to the public and seek to help local communities develop the skills and sensibilities needed strengthen our common life together.