Lessons I’ve Learned from Ignorant People
Lessons we all can learn to use
As a Deaf and legally blind woman I encounter ignorant people pretty much on a daily basis. Whether it’s by discrimination, their low expectations, assumptions, or apprehensiveness about my “deafblindness”.
There’s plenty of lessons I’ve learned over the years on dealing with these people and they can help anyone keep their mental wits about them in dealing with difficult people as well.
When confronted by barriers, discrimination or the thousandth negative comment, it’s easy to get snappy and irritable. You just have to keep in mind that it may be this person’s first time dealing with this situation and may not know what to do or say.
Be affirmative, state the positive aspects of yourself 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 pretty accurate. Yes, I’m a Deafblind person (not a person who "has hearing loss and is vision challenged" - I don't have time for that), but I am much more than my disabilities – I am a wife, a mother, a friend, and a writer.
Know what your needs are and how to address them and solve them yourself.
There’s a quote I like by Teddy Roosevelt:
Whether it’s accessibility, health care, education, employment, or in any situation, you need to stand up for your rights for equal treatment, access and understanding.
Do your own research to find solutions to your problems. Know the equipment, laws, and other solutions that work for you and present these as solutions and facts.
Don't wait around for others to do things for you and don't expect the general public to "know" what you are talking about. People may not be aware, accepting, or open to change for anything "different" from themselves.
Complaining gets no one anywhere.
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. Staying positive helps your outlook on the world and stops the “victim mentality”.
Reserve your "Spoons" for more important issues.
Here's a definition of the Spoon Theory:
The spoon theory uses spoons as a metaphor for energy. One spoon represents the energy it takes to complete a task with a chronic health condition. The spoon theory helps people with chronic health conditions and disabilities explain to others how much energy is used doing certain activities. For example, every person has a limited number of spoons in their personal supply of energy for the day. Different activities diminish the supply of spoons as the day progresses.
People with disabilities also use spoons to measure how much tolerance left they have for explaining, defending, and just putting up with ableist pushback.
As I mention, I (and I'm sure countless others), encounter ignorant people on an almost daily basis. So, if we come across as cranky, snarky, or angry it's because we're tired. Tired of being denied, ignored, the pushback, or treated as "less than".
So yeah, we need to practice positivity, because sometimes it's all we have to hold on to some days.
Note: No, we are not angry miserable people. Many do have happy, successful and independent lives. We have families, jobs, social lives, friends, and much more. It's when we interact with "society" that dampens things. I usually say "I'm not disabled, I can do a lot of things on my own - it's society that disables me".
Keep Your Humor
Learning to keep your humor in frustrating situations goes a long way. The health benefits of having a great sense of humor can help strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and reduce stress.
Humor also alleviates the tension between two people struggling to understand each other.
But do watch how "far" you go because humor is interpreted in many different ways and what you find funny, others may not and you might make matters worse.
Besides, there’s the added bonus of having the silent satisfaction of a snarky reply that’s totally lost on the “victim”.
Keeping calm helps both parties in any situation, even when the other party has 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 blatantly infuriating such as being denied the simple human right to communication needs, or ignorant beliefs and pushback on social media - staying calm expedites reaching a solution faster.
You must also know that you cannot change some people's minds no matter how much evidence you have - just walk away from that mess.
Shrug It Off
Learn to prioritize your requests. Figure out what’s more important in your life and shrug off the rest. There are many more people and places that are available to choose from.
That job interviewer doesn’t want to provide an interpreter? Then shrug it off, who wants to work for those ignorant people anyway?
That business won’t cater to you? So what, find a different place that will.
Someone won't help you with directions? Keep walking.
Yes, I said earlier that you need to be proactive and you should, but you also need to pick your priorities. Learn to pick your battles, not everything is worth a fight.
Lastly, don’t take so much so personally. What they think of you is really a reflection of who they are, not who you are.
Practice Self Care
This last one is important for YOU.
Find a self-care routine to maintain your physical and mental health. Whatever hobby, exercise, belief system, activity, or "safe zone" you can go and do to rejuviate yourself.
Somewhere or something that is calming, restores your energy, makes you happy, and builds up your energy to face "life" again.
Please if you are overwelmed by everything and you find yourself mentally in a dark place, please seek help! Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor (US & Canada).
Your life will be so much simpler if you learn to:
- Shake the trivial stuff off
- Keep calm in your surroundings
- Stay humorous and have a quick wit
- Have a positive outlook on life
- Be patient with others
- Be proactive with your needs and ready with solutions
- Continue your affirmative action
- Prioritize your "spoons".
You'll soon find that life is a bit brighter, more positive, and more accepting.