Discrimination happens for all sorts of reasons; skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, and the list goes on. And while there are many reasons, there really isn’t a good reason. Nonetheless, it happens. There is an overwhelming sense of unfairness and inequity when you are the target of discrimination. Which is exactly what it is intended to do, make you feel “less than”. When this happens systematically over an extended period of time, the impact can be devastating to one’s self-esteem and worldview. However, the power we do have is how we choose to respond, both in practical terms and the way in which we internalize our feelings. Practically speaking, when you experience discrimination, you ultimately have two choices: respond or ignore. Responding has more impact when done with a sense of curiosity and clear intention. Meaning, you have to really want to know why they behaved as they did and be able to articulate its impact on you. For example, “I’m really curious to know why you are following me around your shop, I feel targeted”. It is never wise to respond with anger, sarcasm, or an attitude which would provoke the other person. It only reinforces their false perceptions of you and could potentially lead to an irresolvable conflict. And there are times when you just ignore others bad behavior and move on. Either way, it is important to share your feelings and frustrations so that they are productive, and not self destructive. Being treated unfairly is awful, and it can either weaken or strengthen you. It’s your choice! Our resiliency or ability to recover or bounce back from the experience is an invaluable quality to have. Life is going to continually present us with challenges and inequities. We benefit when we use these experiences to make us stronger, increasing our resiliency so we are better equipped to deal with all the obstacles we’ll face throughout our life.
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