Stereotypes are all around us; luckily, unlearning these stereotypes can take you further in life than you think!
It will take some work and practice, but your life will be much better for it!
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How I unlearn stereotypes
I live in the Middle East.
I come into contact every single day with people whom I unconsciously stereotype.
It’s not something I’m proud of.
It’s just the truth.
I come into contact with Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouin, and foreign workers.
I meet them in the supermarket, building my neighbor’s house, at my children’s school, and almost everywhere.
My country is a hodgepodge of people, and it’s very tempting to name everyone else as “other” and place a stamp on them as if I really knew them.
I know it limits my life as I judge people before I ever have time to know them.
When I catch myself stuck on stereotyping, I use The S.T.U.C.K. Method to extinguish the thoughts and beliefs that unconsciously rise to my mind.
Steps to Unlearn Stereotypes
Hopefully, you can use these steps and unlearn stereotypes that might be holding you back.
The first thing I do is stop.
By stopping, I don’t mean stop thinking.
Instead, I direct my attention to a new place entirely.
A place that is tangible and in the present moment.
An example of this is bringing my attention to my breath.
Often, when I get stuck on an emotion, I first close my eyes and take a deep breath.
It helps me separate myself from the story in my mind.
Next, I tell myself what I am stuck on.
I use the phrase “I am stuck on…” to acknowledge that while I may be stuck on an emotion, I can also get unstuck from it.
When I find myself stuck on stereotyping, I sometimes say to myself, I am stuck on:
Then, I uncover all the beliefs I have about the situation.
I use the phrase, “I believe…” to remind myself that these are beliefs and not truths.
Such as, “I believe all Arabs want to destroy Israel,” or “I believe religious Jews think they are better than non-religious Jews.”
After I list all of my beliefs, I check their accuracy by asking myself, “Is that belief 100% true?”
Many of our beliefs contain the words “all, should, need, must, etc.” indicating that those statements cannot be 100% true.
After checking the accuracy of my beliefs, I typically recognize that my original story is unfounded.
Now, I stretch my consideration muscles and consider all other story perspectives.
Sometimes coming up with other considerations during a “stuck” moment is very challenging.
Therefore, I keep several considerations up my sleeve for when needed, such as “I don’t know the whole story,” “This too shall pass,” “Let Go, Let God,” and “It is what it is.”
With stereotyping, I may consider, “There are many Arabs that have no interest in wanting Israel destroyed,” or “I don’t know every religious Jew individually, and therefore do not know what their beliefs are.”
After making a list of considerations, I choose one to take on.
The final step of The S.T.U.C.K. Method is to bring self-compassion to yourself for getting stuck.
While getting stuck happens to all of us, it’s nothing we are necessarily proud of.
So, at this step, we say, “I got stuck on “x,” and it’s ok.”
If we don’t close this process with “OK,” there is a risk of carrying around guilt for getting stuck, which is unproductive and contradictory to our goal.
Get unS.T.U.C.K today and unlearn your stereotypes
These five simple steps to get unstuck from stereotyping can be easily applied to many other situations in life, including with relationships, at work, and even with yourself.
It is a simple but easy-to-remember and effective method to promote emotional well-being.
It will also make it easier to accept others and open your world to new possibilities.
And as we promote emotional wellness, we improve the world one situation at a time.