Privilege - think about it
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
I read this article on the mindset of privilege and underprivilege in Bored Panda and it made me think.
When people with privilege struggle, the struggle is real but it's more often a case of adjusting your mind set. My job as a coach, which I would say is a 'luxury' - which is why I put so many free exercises out on YouTube and in my podcasts - is almost always about getting you to see just how powerful you are.
The very positive reason I have behind this is, it's often the people I support have asked for support because they want to better help others and in recalibrating their approach they become advocates for those less, well, privileged. (Honestly, the assh*les don't ever ask for help!)
This is the most common issue I see:
How many of you reading this feel it and know 'how lucky you are' and it's part of your own low self esteem that you may also feel that you 'never EARNED anything in your life?'
I'm well aware that I certainly did have it easy, but struggled with imposter syndrome, having a magpie approach to friendships (ooh shiney/pretty/talented) - only to be disappointed by the lack of substance underneath; being a big achiever but the achievements meaning nothing - and the reality is I've been teaching myself to grow up for the last 10 years - and can only apologise its taken that long!
Now, you see, I don't get mad I get equal.
I stand up for myself in my way: You want to "Mansplain", I'll politely message you and ask either what you were doing; or match your tone with my own "willy waving"...believe me, when I do this I see who bothers to respond, and that in itself says something!
I hear through the white noise: Instead of letting every opinion weigh on me, I seek the company of those who bring out the best in me and always strive to hear them. If nothing else, it's respecting the fact they offer me such support.
If I believe I'm punching above my weight (I've had positive discrimination in my favour): I simply work harder to earn my place.
All this frees me up to use all those 'achievements' (degrees) a bit more for others perhaps through fundraising, free webinars, articles like this, podcasts, creating a platform on which to speak positively and giving away coaching and self belief exercises that you would pay for - just without the bespoke tailoring and follow ups of a client booking.
Getting over myself helps me to better help others.
The thing about privilege is that the way it is created is often because of parents who will break down - or pay to open - doors. But it's not the money that's the point. It's the fact it instills the expectation that there IS a way for doors to open. My parents are both migrants (who taught here until their retirement - my mum special educational needs, my dad craft, design and technology) - but their fight, which undoubtedly made my life easier, also made me believe it will be ok - at least for me.
Of course, on the downside, with privilege can come over protection. I was spoiled - my parents rarely said "no", rather than letting me figure things out, they often helped me out of trouble - until I became more independent and learned to work it out for myself. And, they were a strong influence which meant that I learned what they learned - with their own biases or misconceptions not always being questioned - again until I grew up...and had to struggle with "biting the hand that fed me"! These are perhaps the so called 'middle class problems'...however, for me, yes it took a bit of time, but I overcame those and I'm ready to do some good.
Compare that with having nothing expected of you, being taught everything is a fight, trust no one - even those supposedly in positions of trust, and that ultimately you will always come last. This will give rise to all sorts of different problems...those which if the 'privileged ones' can overcome our own issues, we might be able to help address.
If we are privileged we have a DUTY to think broadly, if nothing else because our minds are not clogged with worries about whether we'll even get through the day. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, "...am I creating this psychodrama because I'm lucky to be able to worry about what he said and she said?"...and then go channel our energy into something productive
If we are not it is harder. We have to learn to trust. We need to learn to have hope and we need to learn that there ARE good people out there who want to help...and there are - many.
When you're talking about support for discriminated groups perhaps it is coaching or counselling to rebuild self belief rather than skills training that will be of greatest use.
Ask yourself, how can I, every day, work to be someone that others can trust to be fair and be open-minded...this will benefit everyone.
Remember too, it's always easier for a bold person to turn it down than a timid one to speak up.
If we want to help, show others they have a very valid voice by listening, and questioning in a safe environment not an aggressive one. We can be kind and try to look beneath the surface. At the heart of equality is trust, patience and support without shaming.
But do this as a general rule - you don't know what people are struggling with, what they are hiding and how close they are to breaking through - or just breaking.
Think about it.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt