We live in a world where it is pretty much considered a norm to be labeled by social stigma. Those affected often tend to internalize these negative and unfair beliefs that others have about them.
In my book of memoirs, I talk in depth about how the effects of stigma hinders many people from enjoying life, reaching their full potential and in many cases receiving needed help.
It’s one thing to have an expectation of being judged or not accepted by strangers or social media Op-eds, but what about the people you interact with on a regular basis?
You know those that fall in the category of coworker, friend, family or church member.
These are the people we nearly see everyday. Heck, some of them we live with!
One would think that they are the most supportive when you are having a bad day, going through a life crisis or trying to manage your mood disorder on a day you are about to fall apart. But you know what? Unfortunately, those closest to us can be the most critical and unloving when support is needed the most.
So how do you suppose to persevere and thrive in such a frustrating environment?
I will list a few tips that I have learned to use from experience…
- Be Confident in who you are. Regardless of what belief system you have, whether you have a mental or physical disability or your personality type, accept who you are by defining who you are. Do not allow anyone else to label or define you.
- Manage Your Thoughts. Once you become confident in who you are you will spend less time battling negative thoughts about yourself. You will not easily be affected by the opinions of others. Think positive things about yourself. Declare positive things about yourself. Only allow your mind to feed off things that will encourage you and positively impact your life.
- Establish Boundaries for yourself and others. Thought management takes work. But it can easily be accomplished with reinforcements. Set goals for yourself and decide what and who you will allow and disallow in your life. People have a right to their opinions and they are responsible for their actions; however, you are not obligated to be the recipient of them.
- Reinforce the Boundaries you set. What good is it to establish a boundary if it is not reinforced? When dealing with loved ones and those close to you, it can be challenging trying to reinforce boundaries. But in order to free yourself from the control of others, you must do so. How? Start with your social media outlets and the gadget you use everyday; your cell phone. You may need to utilize the block, delete or take a break features temporarily or permanently. This establishes a consequence for breaking a boundary. You might be thinking, but what if I live with them? If moving out is not an option (smile), you can remove yourself from the room or take a break outside of the house. The goal is not to accept toxic behavior. Trust me, people tend to know when you are breaking away from them.
- Accept Your Decisions. Do you have anyone close to you who acts as if you can’t make a decision without them? They even want you to run all of your decisions by them for approval? This is called control. I have a family member that loves to do this. And yes, I have had to insert some boundaries and reinforcements! Once you have made a decision, whether the best one or not, you must accept it and stand by it. If it turns out to be a mistake, then learn from it. But messing up is a choice that you have. It’s called life and being human. Do not allow people to use whatever your ‘issue’ is as an excuse to decide what’s best for you. As I stated in my book, “Sometimes people don’t want you delivered because they have become content with knowing you by your issue. Some people thrive off of what they consider to be the weaknesses of others because it some how makes them appear stronger” (Hastings 2017, p 88).
As you continue to be resilient in whatever environment, remember that you do not have to internalize social stigma. Free yourself from others so that you can survive and thrive in life. You have a right and a mandate to enjoy your purpose filled life. Will you choose to do it?