There’s no single person just like you in the world. Yes, every one of us is special and unique. Moreover, we are all different. Despite we recognize that we have different thoughts, values and life experiences, we easily become stereotypical towards others. We’ve all witnessed and experienced it. Sadly a stereotype exists in every culture and society, and negative stereotypes seem far more common.
Research shows a stereotype impacts not only victims but also ourselves on unconscious level. Stereotyping is a common form of discrimination, and can be detrimental to those who experience it. People are often generalized and labeled based on gender, age, appearance, ethnicity, religion or any other factor in their identity. This can make stereotyped persons feel unfairly judged and their feelings on this matter can permanently alter their view of themselves and the world around them.
So open your heart and get ready to share amazing things that would happen when you let go of these ugly stereotypes.
Despite our best efforts, we all judge others. It might be over small things or even bigger issues. However, once you practice to put yourself in his or her shoes and try to understand where the person may be coming from, you will become more empathetic towards the person and the situation. Gradually it will be easier to catch yourself before you make a judgment. Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are. As Dalai Lama says, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.
A stereotyped person views others in a negative light. In turn, the person who is stereotyped throughout their lifetime will become more aggressive and hostile toward people they encounter. These people may develop a bitter outlook on society, often assuming that others will discriminate against them and becoming defensive at the slightest inclination of a stereotype. You see the vicious cycle? Thus, be the person who transmits positive energy instead of spreading negative emotions in you and others.
Birds of a feather flock together. You attract what you are. There are probably some people who fit whatever stereotype you can think of and as a result, you may reject them right off the bat. As the world is crowded, a lot of us feel isolated and miss the opportunity to connect. Imagine how many more allies you can make amongst over 7 billion people in the world, more than 320 million in US alone. Certainly you won’t be lonely.
Once again, remember Mother Teresa’s saying; if you judge you can not love. You don’t have to be religious to claim we are here to serve, or a love for all humanity. Giving and receiving love is a fundamental right and our deepest desire in every single soul. A stereotype becomes a stumbling block to express love. One of scary effects of stereotypes is how it’s labeling people unfairly and can adversary shape our culture. Take the Holocaust and ongoing armed conflicts for examples. Welcoming someone that’s different than you with open arms is a foundation of building a peaceful place to live.
Stereotyping will impact the way how children think about others and themselves. Stereotyping is often learned at young age and encouraging bullying behavior that they carry into adulthood. They grow up thinking that they should behave or become certain way to be accepted and that’s the ideal. Some biased messages from media also can be the blame. You don’t have to be a parent or teacher to guide them not to be stereotypical. Start with you first. Treat others equally with respect regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion or personality. They are watching you and learning from you.
In the Tedx “The danger of a single story”, Chimamanda Adichie argues that knowing a single story of a person or a country can cause misunderstanding and create stereotypes. This demonstrates how people are influenced by a single story of a country or a person, and are not aware of many other stories that could change the perception of them. However, we can change and grow now. We can start making effort into getting to know people on a real level. How great would it be if we all tried to take steps towards greater acceptance in our lives?
This time, let’s assume you are the victim of being stereotyped. Your self-esteem and self-image could have been damaged. Sometimes in life, you are the one in your way. You stand up for yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly, and what you believe to yourself and others. That’s when you are not judged by yourself who is your worst enemy. When you practice self-acceptance without judgment, you will find yourself being confident, empowering and authentic to your true-self, whether you are accepted by others or not.
Making assumptions about people’s cultures and where they come from is just something else that makes us inherently human, and will probably continue for a very long time. But we can all afford to be more aware of the world around us and respectful as we’re trying to understand different and unusual things. With all of this we can change our perception of the stereotypes that are deeply rooted in our culture and make of this a better society. With one change at a time, one person at a time, you can make a difference to create a more harmonious setting in this multicultural community.
So, stop the blonde jokes at the office and give a pay raise to your female manager for a job well done.
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