Stigma…A Mental Illness?

Social stigma is just as much an “illness” as any other form of health concern. It attacks the mind in ways that produce undesirable actions.

This is not only applied in a medical context, it applies across the board. If an individual scores poorly on an academic test, thought to be very easy, they are often labelled as “dumb”. If someone constantly “underperform’s” in any sporting event, they are thought to be “non-athletic”. If food is prepared “poorly” or tastes awful in our opinion, that food or place serving that food, is thought of as “disgusting”. Many of us feel these labels do not always apply. That same student can excel at many other subjects, that same athlete may be a “star performer” in another sport and that same dish prepared, may excite the taste buds of many others.
It is easy enough for many to see, that a difference of perception can lead to a positive or negative outcome. So why is it that those affected by any health concern, such as Hemophilia or Leprosy, are seen as “abnormal” or separate from “the rest of us”?

If someone is told they are not in proper shape for this sport, too dumb for this subject or lack the skill to work in this occupation, then this is exactly what will happen, even if these individuals are the complete opposite. What we tell others, frequently, they come to believe.
If you are constantly told you are “overweight”, you will feel and believe you are. This belief will produce actions to make this a reality. The opposite is also true. If we constantly tell others how amazing they play the guitar, how great their poetry is, what amazing “shape” they are in and how kind they are, then this will produce the same pattern. They will believe in what they are being told and they will take actions that confirm this belief.

How can we produce these uplifting and empowering results in others? The answer is simple, by being mindful of our words and actions, directed at others.
Let’s experiment with this technique. For one week, only say things to others that will make them believe in their abilities. Do not do this in a sarcastic manner, rather find the true qualities of that person and make it known. If these people are complete strangers, go out of your way to greet them, smile or compliment them.

It is the small, everyday actions, which always have the greatest impact on others. We have the solution to this heath concern, let’s start applying it today.

We rise by lifting others
– Robert Ingersoll


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