There is a great deal of talk these days about prejudice and bigotry in our society. There is also a collective feeling that prejudice and bigotry are damaging the foundation that our world was built upon.
From our perspective as coaches and spiritual teachers, we may or may not see this situation as you see it. To us, prejudice and bigotry are nothing new. As long as humans have possessed fearful thoughts, beliefs and emotions, there has been prejudice and bigotry. As long as fear exists and it controls the human mind, we will remain stuck in a mindset rooted in ignorance, which is the basis for prejudice and bigotry.
In the movie “A Christmas Carol,” the ghost of Jacob Marley warned Scrooge about “ignorance and want” being the cause of the woes of the world. He shared with Scrooge that ignorance itself is the most destructive force in any society and will ultimately lead to its’ downfall and demise.
Truthfully, and this may seem like a bold statement to you: we all have prejudices and we are all bigots in one way or another. Being open to admitting this as fact is the first step we all want to take to begin dissolving our prejudices and dismantling our own personal bigoted belief systems. For example: have you ever disliked people who dislike others? Or, if you hate the haters, you are also being hateful. Contemplating this may uncover some of your own deeply hidden prejudices.
The second step is to give up condemning others for their prejudices and bigotry. We are all conditioned at a very young age to adopt certain belief systems. Until we question our own belief system, we cannot move ourselves out of prejudice and bigotry.
Our greatest contribution to the world is for all of us to look in the mirror and get brutally honest with ourselves. If we continue to concern ourselves with how other people are behaving, what other people are saying and thinking, we are perpetuating the problems that arise from prejudice and bigotry.
The preferred approach to this universal challenge is to focus on changing the prejudicial behaviors and beliefs that we possess within ourselves.
By denying any truth about ourselves, whether it is our “dark side” (our prejudices, hatred, fear and judgments) or our “light side” (our goodness, kindness, compassion and love for ourselves and others), we disempower ourselves and weaken our overall well-being.
To diminish our own self-worth is no different than diminishing the self-worth of another person. When we don’t feel good about ourselves we are essentially being prejudicial and bigoted toward ourselves.
Recall, we suggested to look in the mirror at yourself. If you are willing to do this and take the initiative to be open and honest with yourself, you will become aware that within you, too, lies thoughts and beliefs that are prejudicial and bigoted in nature about both you and the world-at-large.
This truth does not make you or anyone else a bad person. It just means you are human. Being human also means you have the ability to change yourself and the world around you. Prejudice and bigotry are by themselves constructs of the mind. We all can “change our mind” if we decide to do so.
Here are some ways to begin to dissolve prejudices that are rooted in fear-based thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that exhibit and inflict hatred, anger and guilt on ourselves and others:
- What beliefs do you have about other people who may appear or act different or perhaps see the world from a different perspective? Write these beliefs down. Be honest! Where did these beliefs come from? Are they absolutely true for every person or group you may feel antagonistic toward and perceive in a negative way? Ask yourself: “Am I willing to open myself up to seeing this person/group differently by understanding that they, too, like me, have a set of beliefs they have adopted. And, they also insist that these beliefs are true for them?”
- What beliefs do you have about yourself that may be prejudicial or negatively-biased? Again, write these beliefs down and be honest! Where did these beliefs come from? Are they absolutely true? Ask yourself: “Am I willing to open myself up to seeing myself differently and realize that I, too, have adopted a set of beliefs that I insist are the truth?”
- Pick a person, a group of people, or even yourself as a “test-subject.” See if you have the capacity to send kindness, compassion and good-will to that person or group. How do you feel when you do this?
- Be willing to expand your horizons. Make an effort to learn about other people, their cultures and lifestyles. Then attempt to embrace the differences you may have. See the differences not as a problem but as a celebration of life! Remember, we are all human and are all part of the human family!
Within this article is an opportunity for massive, positive transformation if we are each willing to see and acknowledge that underneath all the so-called “differences” we are really all the same.
When we open ourselves up and consider the possibility of letting go of anything that does not serve us or humanity in a positive way, then the process of positive change begins.
At the end of the day it may be worthwhile to remind yourself that we all have prejudicial thoughts and beliefs and have all exhibited behaviors that confirm this as so. Remind yourself from this point forward that all thoughts, beliefs and behavior that hurt others and ourselves, are all rooted in fear. Remember this: “Hurt people hurt other people.”
Also understand that hurtful thoughts, beliefs and behavior are different than having personal preferences. A healthy personal preference is not rooted in fear. The key is not to use your personal preference as a crusade by attempting to inflict it upon others and condemning them if they choose not to agree or comply with you.
Perhaps, in closing, this may assist you on your way to releasing any personal prejudices you may have: just because you may love chocolate doesn’t mean you have to hate vanilla!
Ultimately, we all want to be loved, accepted and appreciated for who we are!
We are here to assist and guide you to find peace and balance. We can also assist you to dismantle the fears that may be controlling your life. Contact us for a complementary initial discussion.
Jon Satin and Chris Pattay – The Possibility Coaches™
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