Sorry, I haven’t really posted much these past couple weeks! I’ve been finishing off school and honestly, Lyme has really been fighting me for the past little bit… but I am here now and I wanted to share a little more about Chronic Illness.
Last week or so, I blogged about change and how we can have an affect on others and ourselves. I’ve decided to add onto that throughout this month. As we know, change doesn’t always happen instantly; it takes a while to change others’ mindsets and to bring them to your thinking, but that’s not necessarily what I want to cover today. As Mahatma Gandhi says, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.” How do we implement change for ourselves? I think that there are many steps, but today, I am going to focus on the first one: erase bias.
What is bias? Bias is a way of thinking or whole attitude towards certain people, places, things, or ideas. Negative bias is often driven by things like stereotypes, stigma, and poor judgment. If we erase our negative assumptions, we are better able to listen, understand, and act to change our ways.
Now that that is covered, how do we erase bias? I found that for me I was able to see past stereotypes and stigmas by getting to know someone. It is unfair to assume that a group of people are untruthful, rude, lazy, or whatever else you may think if you haven’t even gotten to know them. One time in my seminary class, we had a lesson on erasing our biases towards others. I learned quite a bit from it. Rumors are rumors and often contain no truth. We shouldn’t let other minds decide for us how we want to view someone. Once we decide for ourselves, we can eliminate our negative stigmas towards others.
What is the point of erasing bias? How is this going to help me implement change in MY life? Well, let me give you an example. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be hanging out or talking with someone and we are having a good time, but the second I mention I have Lyme, I receive a negative response. Now I don’t mean that they start telling me off, but they then act different around me. Smiles die out and the mood becomes more annoyed, disgusted, or overall just uncomfortable. I will never forget when I went to a doctor for my regular check up. The mood was light and generous, but the second we mentioned that I had Lyme Disease, he stopped taking my mom and I seriously. Weird, huh? There’s been plenty of other times where I share something with a friend or classmate and get in return a sign of stigma. All the time, guys! Once, I was with some friends and I mentioned how difficult my week was and how I had had to stay home from school and one of them turned around and gave me a doubting look. She then mentioned that she always had terrible weeks, but she brushed it off and went to school apparently unlike me. I have never been so annoyed! Point is, there is a great stigma towards Lyme and those who agree with it never get to understand what it’s really like. This goes with all things. We must discontinue our judgments if we want to understand someone. Your bias is a shield. Some of it can protect you, but some of it stops you from getting to know or listen to other people. Sometimes, you need to know when to let your guard down.
Ever since I’ve had Lyme, I have noticed how my own bias has minimized. I’ve been able to really understand people and reach out to many I wouldn’t have thought to before. It’s amazing how we can learn and understand one another when we consider their own trials and daily battles. True empathy is the pathway to a better understanding and a closer relationship. When you try to listen to others, forget about yourself! Listening has never required judgment or criticism and it never will. I know this is similar to one of my other posts about listening, but it’s too important to only mention once!! Anyways, my main point here is, in order to understand someone, you have to let go of judgment and erase bias!
To end, I am going to leave you with a quote…
“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” -Henry Thoreau
I hope that throughout this week (and on), you guys will be encouraged to do something to erase bias or avoid judgment; prevent those thoughts from entering your brain, and if they do, push them away. Sometimes, you have to do more than hold your tongue; sometimes you have to avoid all negativity altogether.