How can we address community and personal biases when it comes to societal differences?
- Embracing cultures and Recognizing personal biases
- Become more culturally responsive
Embracing Cultures and Recognizing Personal Biases:
We all have differences in race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation, religious and spiritual beliefs, age, and much more. In addition, an individual is a complex mix of many cultural influences including individual and family experiences. This means that even people sharing cultural similarities have many differences. Clearly, no one can be defined by a single cultural label
Given all the factors listed above, we can agree that every human on this earth is unique, a one of a kind. Everyone is a bit different from us, in one way or another – even the people we choose for company.
Being different isn’t a problem for most people; most people recognize this. The problem comes when we make judgements without having all of the information needed. Many of the judgments we make are below our conscious mind and feel automatic. Have you ever thought, “Why did I think this?” For example, I used to think that light roasted coffee beans would naturally have less caffeine. I never took the time to research the answer, instead I came to my conclusion based on my own assumptions and what I heard “through the grapevine”. I lived with this bias for many years. Is it actually true? Not at all. I had inaccurate information, and wrongly judged the light roasted coffee bean. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy it’s tastiness for many years.
Like my overly-simplistic coffee bean belief, people often have inaccurate information and make judgments on this information. It’s natural to form judgments to make sense of things, but when our judgments hurt people, and lead us to not valuing or respecting others, this is when it’s harmful. Sometimes the judgments we have are from stereotypes that have been learned. A stereotype is an oversimplified idea of a person or group. People don’t fit into a stereotyped box, they are more complex than this. Identifying what we believe, exploring why we believe it, and deciding if we want to continue to believe it is powerful. This is how we grow individually and as a society.
Become more culturally responsive by:
- Opening to viewpoints of others.
- Not trying to change others to be more like yourself.
- Exploring and honoring the differences of others.
- Respecting and valuing people who are different from myself.
- Fact checking social media and limiting exposure to comments.
Take it to the next level of being Culturally Responsive:
- Inspect your own culture – What values and beliefs do you hold and why? Understanding your own cultural makeup is the first step to understanding that others hold different values and beliefs.
- Avoid imposing your own values. Resist the urge to judge. Instead, make a conscious effort to understand another perspective.
- Resist stereotyping – both positive and negative. Stereotypes are unreliable and not always true.
- Learn about other cultures. By increasing your knowledge, you will increase your acceptance of others.
- Accept your own naïveté. Forgive your own mistakes and ignorance. Don’t dwell on them. Instead, learn from them.
Reflecting on our culture, values and beliefs is challenging to do by oneself. Find someone you feel comfortable with, who won’t judge what you share with them. If you’d rather share and process with a nonjudgmental and objective person, reach out to Thriveworks. We have clinicians who can lead you to exploring your values, beliefs and culture. Exploring oneself is truly rewarding as it deepens your connection with yourself and the world around you.
Call 719-266-3919 to schedule with a trained clinician.