When you have a disability, knowing that you are not defined by it is the sweetest feeling. ~ Anne Wafula Strike Click To Tweet
As a deaf and legally blind woman I encounter discrimination on pretty much a daily basis. Whether it’s through low expectations, assumptions, apprehensiveness or plain old obtuseness, there are plenty of life lessons I’ve learned from this behavior over the years. Many of these are applicable across the board, not just to those with a handicap, and they’ll help anyone keep their mental wits about them when dealing with difficult people in general. Here are the top 6.
1) Be Affirmative
When confronted by barriers, discrimination, or the thousandth negative comment, it’s easy to get snappy and irritable. You have to keep in mind that it may be this person’s first time dealing with this type of a situation, and they may not know what to do or say.
Be affirmative, state the positive aspects and dismiss the negative.
As much as I dislike the overdone political correctness of ‘addressing the person first and the disability second’, such as “a person who is deaf”, the concept behind it is accurate. Yes, I’m a Deafblind person (not a person who is deaf and blind), but I am much more than that – a wife, a mother, and a writer.
2) Be Proactive
Know what your needs are and how to address them and solve them. There’s a quote I like by Teddy Roosevelt:
Whether it’s accessibility, health care, education, or simply as a parent, you need to stand up for your rights for equal treatment and understanding.
3) Stay Positive
Struggling with disabilities, illnesses, or difficult situations can drag you down. Everyone has negative experiences and bad days. You just have to remember it’s just a bad day and not a bad life. Training yourself to stay positive helps your outlook on the world and stops the “victim mentality”.
Stay positive, keep your head up and a smile on your face.
4) Keep Your Humor
Learning to keep your humor in frustrating situations goes a long way. The health benefits of humor are many. They can help strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and reduces stress. Humor also alleviates the tension between two people struggling to understand each other.
5) Keep Calm
Keeping calm helps both parties in any situation, even when the other party is not composed themselves. You can’t control how others act or feel, but you can control how you react and respond to it all.
Yes, there are situations that are aggravating (and sometimes blatantly infuriating) such as being denied the simple human right to communication needs, but staying calm nearly always aids in reaching a solution faster.
6) Shrug it Off
Learn to prioritize your requests. Figure out what’s more important in your life and shrug off the rest. There’s more people and places that are available to choose from.
That job interviewer doesn’t want to provide an interpreter? Shrug it off. (They may not be with it just yet, but they’ll have to be soon enough — times are changing.) That business won’t cater to you? So what, find a different place that will.
Don’t take everything so personally. What they think of you is really a reflection of who they are, not who you are.
Your life will be so much simpler with these lessons. Learn to shake the trivial stuff off; keep calm in your surroundings; keep a quick wit; a positive outlook on life; being proactive with your needs; and, continuing your affirmative action as a person.