Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live my friend. I am happy to have you around my table. Thank you. For many years I struggled to accept myself, but I was unable to put my finger on why I had such a difficult time. My struggle continued until I was able to connect the “dots” of my experience. What I discovered was that I had bought into a belief system that undermined my ability to accept myself as a unique individual. Through my struggle, to find my / the self that I wanted to be able to accept; I found myself gauging who I was in life through the reflections of significant people in my life.
I found myself taking other people’s temperatures to see how I was doing in life.
In the process, I found myself embracing how other people responded, reacted and treated me — as the indicator of who I was as an individual. In the process, I could never quite establish who I was as an individual because I was gauging who I was as an individual, through the spectrum of the ways that different people treated and interacted with me. In the process, I found that my identity, as an individual; changed with each interaction. As a result, I stayed confused with regards to who I was as an individual. In the process, I found myself striving all the more in an attempt to gain the approval and validation from a myriad of people — in order to be able to have a self and an identity.
What other people thought about me was more important and of greater value than what I thought about myself
While attending junior college in the late 1970’s I took a course that was a prerequisite. Sociology. In this course, I learned something about different concepts: putting labels on people, stereotypes, and societal stigmatization. Through my study of these concepts, I learned about how these concepts stymie, limit and result in a process of victimization. I learned how these concepts, when applied and deployed; limit individuals who are labeled, stereotyped and stigmatized. I also learned how the label, stereotype, and stigmatization can then unknowingly become the individuals “identity”. I went on to learn that labels, stereotypes, and stigmatization become a way to control and manipulate different groups of people to achieve and accomplish set agendas.
The label, stereotype, and stigmatization can then lead the individual to believe that they are limited by the purported expectations inherent within the label, stereotype, and stigmatization. These purported expectations — overtly and covertly — are then used to lead the individual to believe that they are limited by the “box” of those expectations. The “box” then, many times unknowingly; becomes the way in which they relate to other who have been labeled, stereotyped and stigmatized. Not only are these individuals led to believe they are subject to the “expectations” of the label, stereotype, and stigmatization, but they are also led to believe that is the way that they are to relate to the rest of society.
In my experience and through my recovery process I became more acutely aware of how a label, a stereotype and a stigmatization was to impact my life after I told my supervisor at the department of vocational rehabilitation that I had sustained a traumatic brain injury when I was 10 years old in 1967. The rippling effects of such a disclosure opened my eyes to how a diagnosis, a label, a stereotype and a societal stigmatization would seek to put and keep me in a “box”. Subsequent to finding myself in this “box”, I found myself being identified as a traumatic brain injury survivor. After finding myself in the “box” of being a traumatic brain injury survivor, I found myself minimized, marginalized, dismissed and discounted as an individual.
Because I grew up with the unknown impact of a traumatic brain injury and a subsequent invisible disability, I bought into the notion that I deserved to be abused — minimized, marginalized, dismissed and discounted — because I was “different”.
Please read the conclusion of the article in Part 2, by clicking on this link: Freedom From Feeling Excluded Part 2
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