In the face of microaggressions and other stressors, we often encounter the well-meaning yet useless/misguided advice to "just ignore it" or "brush it off." Suppressing emotions can take a heavy toll on our mental and physical well-being. Many of us have been socialized to believe that we aren’t entitled to our emotions and that expressing vulnerability is a sign of weakness, prompting many to habitually hide their feelings. However suppressed emotions do not disappear. In this mini episode, we explore the consequences of heeding the "just ignore it" advice, revealing the importance of granting ourselves permission to feel and express emotions authentically.
This episode we discuss:
🌈Microgressions as a source of chronic toxic stress
🌈Useful ways to support folks coping with microaggressions
🌈Managing microaggressions in a self-compassionate way
🌈Validating your experience as a self-care tool
Episode edited and produced by Unapologetic Amplified
This transcript was generated with the help of AI. Thank you to our supporting members for helping us improve accessibility and pay equitable wages for things like human transcription.
Have you ever wondered why almost all the health and wellness information you see out there is so white, cis able-bodied and het? I know I have. And as a queer black registered dietitian, I gotta tell you, I'm not into it. I believe health and happiness should be accessible to everyone. That is precisely why I wrote Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation and why I host Body Liberation for All.
The road to health and happiness has a couple of extra steps for chronically stressed people, like queer folks and folks of color. But don't worry, my guests and I have got you covered. If you're ready to live the most fierce, liberated, and joyful version of your life, you are in the right place.
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Have you ever tried to explain the nuances of your experience of racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia only to hear, well, why don't you just ignore it? You know who you are, why do you pay it any mind?
Are you the type of person who tells your LGBTQIA+ or BIPOC friends to just ignore hate, discrimination, and the subtle reminders they get about the hostile environment they're living in, in the office in the form of microaggressions.
Have you been that person? Was that your stellar advice? Just stop talking about it because, that'll probably make it better or easier for you to manage, or less uncomfortable for me to have to keep listening to. I'm going to explain why “just ignore it” is garbage advice and what we can do in lieu of stuffing down our emotions just for them to pop up in more disturbing forms later on.
So before we get into why “just ignore it” is trash advice. Let's clarify what microaggressions are. A microaggression could be defined as a statement or an action that reveals that someone has internalized bias against you. It doesn't necessarily mean that this person hates the marginalized groups that you belong to, but it does mean that they have unchecked bias, so unchecked that just.
Spills on out during the business day, during regular conversations, microaggressions, while the name makes it sound like they're not that big of a deal, the consequences for the person on the receiving end of this, it is severe. If you're a person who's had that experience of having somebody say something ridiculous to you that reveals they hold one of your marginalized identities in low esteem, like for example, oh, you're so pretty for a black girl.
Oh, you're so pretty for a trans woman. Oh, you're so well spoken. Hmm. What is the underlying implication in all of those statements? Well, you are surprised because you hold this negative belief that all black fem people are unattractive, that all trans women are not attractive. That. Or that people that look like me will not enunciate or be someone you feel like you can understand.
You may think what you've done is given a compliment. What you've done is a backhanded, hurtful comment that actually does harm. Some people have experienced suicidal ideation after. Experiencing microaggression exposure. So the consequences, depending on the emotional state of the person you are speaking to, or the other people that hear it, can in fact be very severe.
The reason why this channel even exists my work exists is because the chronic stress that people experience. When they have parts of their identity not being embraced or celebrated by the world around them, that chronic stress tears the body down and microaggressions are as much a part of that as more overt obvious signs of racism or transphobia or homophobia.
So telling someone to just ignore. Whatever microaggression they've been exposed to in the office because you think it'll cause less of a ruckus or you don't want them to make a scene, you're afraid that they'll end up being victimized if they're seen as a squeaky wheel. All of that is problematic. You are asking for the silence of the person who is the recipient of the abuse, not the abuser.
That's problematic on multiple levels. Number one, how will we put an end to that behavior in your office or in your family, or wherever this has taken place? If we don't confront it and address it? If you observe this, it would be far more helpful for you to validate the. Experience of the person who has been harmed and to ask how you could be helpful.
How would this person like for you to move forward? Do they feel like a formal complaint would be the way to go? What would feel like a proactive step? What can you do to help? No one needs for you to suggest. That they just stay silent about something that was troublesome enough to them, for them to repeat it to you.
Two. Why is this advice horrific? Where do emotions go when we suppress them? Do they just disappear? Do they never trouble us again? Absolutely not. Suppress emotions. Emotions that aren't. Experienced will get stuck in your body and pop up someplace else. When you bottle up emotions, all you're doing is delaying the experience of them, and fair enough, some people will bottle, bottle, bottle and refuse to ever directly confront emotions for their entire lifetime.
You will experience that bottled up stress, that bottled up anxiety in other ways. Sometimes it manifests as physical pain, as chronic tension that also contributes to physical pain, maybe high blood pressure, headaches, a suppressed immune system. You cannot ignore an emotion and. Expect it to dissipate.
That is not how it works. The feeling of anger, the feeling of frustration, it's there to tell you something. Whatever went wrong, you are not being oversensitive. Your feelings are valid. You are having a reaction because what you witnessed, Triggered that reaction. Now, if the people that are currently in your space can't validate your experience, that's okay.
It still needs to be validated and it still needs to be experienced. So maybe that's gonna be something you do. After work, if you are trapped in a space where it isn't safe to express frustration or anger, and if you are a person of color, you've probably had that experience of knowing that there was no way that you could phrase.
Your experience that would be acceptable to the people around you because they're just so comfortable with encouraging marginalized people to suppress their emotions and to never say anything that could possibly inconvenience. Or even slightly stress out the people with more power in the room. If you can sense, it's not a safe space for you to really be honest about what you're experiencing, that's okay.
You could journal at your desk. That's a way to process. You can call a friend on your lunch break. You can take it to the group chat, take it to someone who not only is not going to ask you for receipts or proof that what you heard is a microaggression was indeed inappropriate, but people who maybe have some similar lived experience who understand what that feels like to be stifled, to be silenced when you've been harmed in an environment that probably contributes to your chronic stress.
All the time. If that negative experience is really sticking with you, it could be something to bring up in therapy. There are also physical things that you can do to help you feel your feelings and move through them, especially with more intense feelings like anger. For me, I find deep breathing exercise or physical activity to be really helpful.
Sometimes just going for a walk is going to be enough because you can really relax. Your nervous system and breathe deeply while you're doing that, and sometimes you'll be able to feel it. There's so much pent up energy that you need to do something really intense. Maybe it's jumping jacks in the office, maybe it's running in place.
Maybe you need to go outside and run around the building. You'll be able to feel when those emotions aren't. So stuck anymore. Think about anytime you've seen even an animal have an altercation in nature. You know, they don't have the same resources as we do for processing their feelings, but you'll notice they typically shake it out before they move on.
That is a good note for you and a visual reminder that when you experience feelings appear, it has. A reaction. There's a response throughout your body and part of your processing could be physical. It doesn't necessarily have to be intellectual. If this run in with this person with unconscious bias or straight up obvious bias that they're aware of and they've chosen to do nothing about, has caused you some grief or sadness because it's a reminder that you are not.
In safe spaces as often as you deserve to be and would like to be. Then maybe something more soothing is what you're going to need. Maybe you need to go home early. Maybe you need to cancel whatever you have planned for later on in the day so that you can take a long, relaxing, hot shower so that you can really decompress.
Rest can help. A very calming evening meditation might be nice. Listening to music that you find soothing or that feels like a heart opener for you. What would a heart opener be? The types of songs that make you feel like crying, but you don't even know why, like it softens up your heart center a little bit.
That can be helpful so that maybe you can induce a good cry if that's what you need to move through it and move on. If the encounter left you with more of a sense of not being safe, like a lot of tension and anxiety, then really creating a calming environment when you can, when you get home, when you get out of that space, is going to be very helpful.
You can do this however feels right for you. For some people, aromatherapy or a soothing playlist is really gonna be helpful. Getting cozy with a weighted blanket or a cozy blanket creating an atmosphere that's. Says to you, safety. It says to you, this is a space where I don't have to perform. I don't have to do anything.
All I have to do is just be.
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All of my life. I have been a fan of self-help books, but when I entered adulthood and I started having to deal with chronic stress related to my marginalized identities, I came up empty. When I looked for resources that could help me, I. Find more peace and cultivate joy in my life while living with systems that oppose queer folks, folks of color, finding any peace and having any joy in their lives.
I wrote Decolonizing Wellness because this is the resource that I needed years ago. It is centered on QTBIPOC, and it is designed to help you find peace in your now body, heal your self-image, and feel truly free. In your body, in a world that doesn't support and affirm you the way that it should. And while the book does center QTBIPOC folks, it's been very interesting to me to hear all the positive feedback from cisgender white folks who have found the message liberatory as well.
This is a fabulous resource specifically for folks like myself, but also for anyone who's interested in looking more closely at the role that systemic oppression and chronic stress has on the human body.
So if you haven't already, be sure to pick up your copy of Decolonizing Wellness. You can find it virtually anywhere through any major book retailer right now. But check out dolly kinsey.com and hit the events and media tab so that you can easily find it at your preferred retailer.
Something hands-on and practical like E F T, can also be very helpful. What is EFT? EFT is essentially a series of tapping that you do around the body that helps you release emotions and really helps you bring down anxiety levels. So the goal is to validate your emotional experience, feel your feelings, process them so that you can move on so that you don't store them in your body.
You deserve breaks from all of the stressors that you're constantly being bombarded with, and the only way you're gonna get those breaks is if you do it with intention. You have to take them. You have to create. Space for them. If you find that the self-proclaimed ally in your office isn't capable of holding space for you, no problem.
Move on. There are other sources. There are other people who are deeper into this liberation work than others who will be able to hold space for you, who know that it's inappropriate to ask for silence from the person who's receiving the abuse. What we wanna do is address. The abuser themselves reinforce whatever policies we have in place to protect people from this type of abuse in the workplace and then move forward.