8 Ways To Make Your Wellness Space Truly Inclusive
Fear of being taken down in a public callout, or simply of hurting others, can leave even the most compassionate people feeling like they'd rather tap out of the conversation about diversity and inclusion.
One of the most common phrases I hear as an inclusive culture consultant is "I feel like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't." This expression of disempowerment and confusion is often coming from someone who is a leader, a healer, a creator, a visionary.
But creating spaces where we can all thrive as our authentic selves is possible, and it's part of our shared mission now more than ever. The health and well-being community has the opportunity to lead the way by ensuring people of all experiences can access tools for personal and collective transformation.
Here are eight ways we can all upgrade our mindsets about inclusivity and diversity:
1. Embrace your role in the generational cleanup crew.
After centuries of dehumanization, we are finally acknowledging, amending, and transcending the violence our ancestors inflicted upon one another. The current chaos and tension of our world are the detox symptoms of an old paradigm dying and a new paradigm emerging. Just like any other healing process, we can drag it out, identifying conflict and fear as a chronic condition to be managed over a lifetime. Or we can decide to face it head-on and claim a vision of a life and a world where harmony, health, and humanity are our norm.
We cannot experience a harmonious world unless we claim that as our vision.
2. Own your why.
If we don't set a clear positive intention, we often have a weaker negative intention running in the background. Why do you want to build a more diverse and inclusive community? To mitigate social media criticism? To bring new perspectives into your work? To take part in building a world where everyone has equal access to an amazing life? We cannot experience a harmonious world unless we claim that as our vision. The more your intention is rooted in love rather than fear, the more successful your work will be.
3. Know your history, know yourself.
Historical patterns of exclusion run on autopilot in our interactions until we fully acknowledge them. What are your identities (race, gender, sexuality, country of origin, ability, etc.)? Where do you fall toward the historical margins, and where do you have more access? How might those be subconsciously influencing how you relate to others today? These are all important things to ask yourself and answer with honesty.
4. Make amends, for yourself and your ancestors.
It is not enough to no longer actively wish people harm. We must truly attend to the wounds of the past—whether or not it was us who committed them. Reflect on the identity-based patterns within your life and lineage (i.e., being a white person in the U.S. means you carry the legacy of slavery within your ancestry; being a man means you carry the legacy of the repression of women, etc.). Ask yourself: What would I need to do to repair the impact of these past harms?
Amends can take many forms: apologizing to someone you hurt, doing a lovingkindness meditation practice directed at people different from you, and more.
5. Understand the difference between a niche and discrimination.
Inclusive culture design does not mean being all things to all people. Instead, it means clarifying who your ideal community member is, and ensuring that there's no unconscious bias blocking anyone who meets that description.
6. Recognize callouts as opportunities for connection.
When someone posts a critical comment or tells you your words were offensive, it's easy to get defensive and push back. However, negative feedback presents two opportunities. First, to rewrite an old pattern by responding with compassion rather than critique when someone expresses pain. Second, to learn more about our community and ourselves. Take the time to breathe deeply, remind yourself of your goals, receive the lesson, and respond with compassion.
7. Upgrade your policies and language.
Traditional diversity and inclusion typically start with these upgrades. Once you've done the deeper emotional work above, it's time to educate yourself or hire an inclusivity consultant to review your policies, branding, and other cultural norms for unconsciously biased language or patterns. Resist feeling overwhelmed by the feedback. Commit to your vision and focus on each next right action.
8. Release perfection; embrace integrity.
The mainstream inclusivity conversation often has an energy of shame and blame. Yes, we need to own uncomfortable truths. However, an expanded sense of self-love is essential in building an inclusive culture and leading collective healing. This work is not about perfection. It is about integrity: living your values.
Shift your negative self-talk about inclusion. A thought like "I'm worried people will be mad at me" or “I feel so behind” could become "I'm proud of myself for taking steps toward greater inclusivity" or "Every day I'm helping create a more peaceful and just world." Practice reframing your internal narrative about your work. You're participating in building a better world. Thank you.
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