First of all, before we delve into this list, it is important for us all to understand… We all use stereotypes…so don’t beat yourself up about it. Does that mean that it is okay? Most of us agree the answer is, no. But we can change and grow. We can stop the assumptions and judgments – and get 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? Pretty darned great, we think!
1) LET PEOPLE IN
Get to know them! If you are wondering about that neighbor that seems a bit out of sorts and perhaps unkempt, go say hello. Don’t assume that they are troublesome or have issues. Give them a shot! You could end up with a great friend! I did – turns out that she was depressed, she had Post-Partum Depression, and her husband was deployed. You never know – you could end up with a bestie and help them to boot!
2) STOP YOURSELF
The next time that you see someone and start thinking, “Oh, she/he is one of “those” spouses” – STOP right there (You can do it!) and ask yourself, “Why did I just have that reaction? What is it that is truly bothering me about him/her?” Try to reframe what you’re thinking about them.
3) FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
When you see something in someone that causes you to make an automatic assumption about them, take a moment, catch yourself, and think POSITIVE. Find something about him or her that is wonderful!
4) EXAMINE YOUR MOTIVATIONS
This is a tough one. We’re not saying go out tomorrow and sit on a couch talking to a therapist about your childhood. Just think about why you may be making these assumptions about others. Do they remind you of someone? Are they doing something you would want to do, or something that you are morally against? What is it that bothers you about them? After all, you are you . . .and they, well . . . are themselves. We are all different.
5) FIND A DIFFERENT FOCUS
Get fit, occupy your mind, find a hobby. Put your energy somewhere positive. Speaking of positive . . .
That’s right! It’s not just to benefit others! It will give you a new perspective on life. Helping others and seeing what others go through is a wonderful way to let go of preconceptions.
7) PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES (or Uggs, or stilettos . . .)
Remember, we are all walking this life in our own way. We all have problems, concerns, difficulties, tragedies and triumphs. Before you judge, try to imagine what it’s like to be them.
8) GET REAL
Realize that we ALL stereotype. No one is immune. It does not make us bad people. Knowing we all do it could be just the impetus we need to change.
9) GET EDUCATED
Read up on how to deal with stereotypes; read about how they affect others, what they mean. The more you know, the less likely you are to engage in these behaviors.
10) CALL IT LIKE YOU SEE IT
We’ve all been there. We are with a group of friends and someone starts criticizing someone they see. Stand up and call out the behavior. Voice your dissent. Stop stereotyping in its tracks. Bring awareness to the issue, and it could go a long way towards not only it being less likely that you use stereotypes, but it could have that effect on others too!!
Click here for how to deal with stereotypes that are very specific to the military spouse crowd!
For some advice from the experts on how to deal with stereotypes click here!