Just like many of you, I feel as if my entire world has been shaken. Once again, I’ve been made aware and awoken to some deep-seated issues. Here at This Naked Mind, we don’t shy away from the hard conversations. So we are having them and learning how to navigate this world while staying true to our cause and area of expertise. For us that means discussing what marginalizes people and figuring out – how do we end the stigma?
What is stigma and where does it come from?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. Multiple studies show stigma usually arises from lack of awareness, lack of education, and lack of perception. In mental illness, the nature and complications of the mental illness can also contribute – for example, odd behaviors and violence.
How do we end the stigma?
It would be the utmost fulfillment of my dreams if we were able to end the stigma we exhibit when it comes to anyone who is different from us – be it due to mental health, racial differences, cultural differences, sexual preference, etc. I feel that as humans we are all equal and we must remove any preconceived notions we have of others.
My reason for this is because I know the pain of being stigmatized, not because of stigmas that others assigned to me but because I self-stigmatized myself for years due to my anxiety, depression, and ultimately my addiction to alcohol. When we hear something enough from the outside we end up believing it ourselves.
End The Stigma with This Naked Mind
I discuss more about how stigmas can be limiting in This Naked Mind. Start reading for free now!
Awareness is the first step when it comes to addressing any issue. We must first know the issue – whatever it is – exists before we can do anything to address it. The thing about awareness is that you can’t unknow something. Once you’re awake to the issue no matter what you do to try to suppress it, the awareness remains. Even if we aren’t doing anything actively to address it. Worse yet, the more we try to ignore it, the more it bothers us.
Food for thought: What topics make you uncomfortable? Explore why they cause you discomfort.
Once we’re aware the next step is to educate ourselves on the issues that make us uncomfortable. I hate to say it but ignorance is a choice, not an excuse. I, myself, was guilty of practicing ignorance when it came to my alcohol addiction along with my struggles with anxiety and depression.
It was phenomenal what I was able to learn once I chose to instead research and educate myself on the topic that was causing so much discomfort personally in my life. I’ve since learned to use that same approach to any topic that I come across which I want to ignore or turn away from. Turning towards it with curiosity and a desire to learn more is always the right choice.
Food for thought: Where you get your information from is as important as seeking more information. I always try to seek out studies, peer reviews, and quality research when I get curious. Public libraries offer a wealth of public access options to these databases nowadays.
It’s hard to find a “nice” way to address a lack of perception and when it comes to addressing stigmas maybe it’s time we stop sugar-coating them. Another way of describing a lack of perception is to say insensitivity. Many of us have become tone-deaf to the fact that these stigmas not only exist but continue to be perpetuated. Even if we personally are not affected by stigma, as human beings we should follow the golden rule when it comes to showing sensitivity to the individuals being stigmatized. We can end the stigma by acknowledging and empathizing that barriers do exist for those being stigmatized and that we can break those barriers down through awareness, education, and changing perceptions.
Food for thought: Perception is reality. Change your perception and how you speak of others and you in turn help change the narrative overall.