No one wants to feel like they are not good enough. Being told by a family member that you could do ‘better’ only adds to feelings of disappointment.  Many of us have heard negative comments about people who struggle with their mental health – hearing phrases like “oh they are crazy!” or “just get over it” – which minimizes our own mental health issues. What if we could live in a world where instead of judging each other’s choices and experiences, we accepted that everyone goes through the ups and downs that are part of the learning in this life journey? For many this world includes no more feelings of guilt or disconnection. It is saying we are not as broken as we have been told by others.

The word stigma describes the negative feelings or beliefs others have about a person or group of people. We have all felt stigmatized at some point in our lives. Whether it is about our friendship choices, how we dress or even the type of shows we like to watch. It is like everyone has their own opinion to give, and they do not hold back from sharing it.

This stigma especially reaches people who are going through mental health and addictions issues. Judgements come from a variety of places: parents telling you that drugs are bad, friends telling you to “just pretend to be happy.” Whatever the stigma is, one thing for certain is that no one likes to be judged or told they are wrong, especially when they are already struggling to make it through the day.

Here are 3 steps to start creating healthy changes and stop the stigma:

Step 1: Accept that the challenges you are going through are a part of your life experience. Others might not understand it, but ultimately it is not up to them. It is for you to see the opportunities and learn from what is coming up – including the dark parts, or shadow aspects as the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung called it.

Step 2: Know that these dark parts are not going to last forever. Of course, no one can give you a timeline on how long you might feel these negative emotions. No one can tell you when sunshine and unicorns are going to show up. In fact, what I can tell you is that, just like all of life, we go through cycles and that includes having emotions that go up, down, and every direction in between. Remember: rainbows come after the storm!  Sometimes this means we may have to touch the dark and get a bit dirty before we can emerge victoriously like the butterfly transformed.

Step 3: Stop the Stigma means to accept others as they are. We have all judged another person. Do not beat yourself up about what you have said or done. Instead, forgive yourself.  You can say to yourself: “I forgive myself for judging others about their (insert judgement here). I release the judgement and I allow myself to accept others for who they are. In return I also get to accept myself.

With these simple steps you can begin to decrease the stigma in the world and ultimately increase the sense of acceptance of self and others. This in turn will bring us to a place of tolerance in the world, a tolerance that is so very needed – especially right now.

Will you be the change?

Written by Fola Veritas