The existence of prejudice in the world has been the cause of a lot of damage. People clinging to their prejudices, even when they cause other people great amounts of suffering, is behind a lot of the conflict in many societies.
There is nothing more dangerous than believing that you do not have any of your own prejudices.
Having a prejudice doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. While often prejudice is connected to some truly horrible beliefs and behaviour, all it means to have a prejudice is a preconceived idea about something.
This is a natural part of humanity – it teaches us what to expect from certain situations based on things we have learned.
Choosing to discriminate based on some prejudices is the real tragedy.
Choosing to reject this kind of behaviour is the key to bringing about a human race that works together to create a better world.
Don’t feel like that means that you, personally, need to change the world. You just need to understand how to make that change within yourself.
FIRST, ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE THEM
Assuming that you don’t have any prejudices whatsoever is the worst thing you can do. If you refused to even try to find your prejudices, you’re more likely to act on them without noticing and potentially hurt people. It’s impossible to know how the future is going to play out, so people make assumptions based on what they know, what they think and what they’ve been told. Those assumptions are what make up a prejudice. That’s normal. In order to move on, you have to understand that.
THINK ABOUT THE THINGS YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED
Think about all the things you know to be true. Some of them will be true. Others will be an assumption, something that you’ve projected, perhaps from something you’ve been told, perhaps from something you’ve gleaned yourself. Think about the things that you expect to consistently happen in certain situations – think about why you think that. Think about whether or not that assumption is reasonable.
THINK ABOUT HOW THAT TRANSLATES INTO YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE
Think about how you project these beliefs you hold onto the world around you. Perhaps you change your behaviour when you’re around certain people. Certainly, a lot of people behave different around their boss than they do around their friends and family. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is based on an assumption. Think about the other circumstances when you might feel the need to adapt your own behaviour, or you feel as if others should change theirs. Think critical about why you feel that way.
THINK ABOUT HOW THAT AFFECTS THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU
This might be the most important one. If any of the things that you believe or the actions you take based on those beliefs are having a negative impact on anyone in your life, then that’s a sign that your prejudices are, in fact, a problem.
ALWAYS ANALYSE YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
In every situation, you will have some assumptions, about how you expect it to unfold, about how you think you should behave, about how you expect others to behave. Again, this is most pertinent when it relates to the people around you. Are you being fair to them when you make assumptions? Are you letting your assumptions direct your behaviour before you get to know what they’re really like as a person?
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.