Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are vital in creating a fair and equitable world for everyone. On the journey to learning more about DEI, it's common to feel overwhelmed by new information and emotional triggers, and even experience guilt and shame. But take heart! Here are some tips to help navigate those challenging emotions and stay encouraged on your DEI journey:
Step 1: Recognize your emotions
Acknowledging difficult feelings may be challenging, but discomfort is necessary for growth. Be kind to yourself and avoid self-judgment when you feel these emotions.
Step 2: Understand the source of your emotions
Take a moment to reflect on the root cause of your emotions. Ask yourself, “What is causing my discomfort?” or “Why do I feel frustrated by this?” Understanding the source of your emotions can help you address them and move forward. Remember, being aware of your biases will help you better understand your emotions.
Step 3: Seek help from trusted sources
Seeking guidance and support from trusted sources is okay as you navigate your DEI journey. Reach out to a mentor, a friend, or a professional who can help you process and provide guidance. Remember, as your journey continues, people do not “owe” you an explanation for their perspective or experience, but it should be welcomed if offered. Avoid asking people from marginalized groups to explain concepts that you have not yet researched or done some work to understand. Read and do your research, drawing from as many different perspectives as possible. Keep an open mind- there is a chance that what you’ve learned in the past may need to be unlearned, due to new information. Be patient with yourself.
Step 4: Practice self-compassion
Treating yourself with kindness and understanding as you make mistakes or face difficult situations is essential on your DEI journey. Bias, in this regard, is a learned behavior- meaning it can be unlearned through consistency and acceptance of new information. Don’t beat yourself up for the things you learned along the way that do not serve your growth. Self-compassion can help you navigate your emotions and move forward with greater strength and hope.
Step 5: Take action
Feeling shame or frustration can sometimes make us feel powerless. When we learn new information or become more informed on the perspectives and experiences of groups around us, it is normal to want to take immediate action. It’s important to understand that action can take on many forms. Education, accountability, empathy, unlearning biases, advocacy, and allyship are all considered positive actions. Surround yourself with people already doing the work, and inquire how you can be of support. Listen and show empathy when people share their experiences with you, and do not insert your opinions or solutions. Slow down and think of the best ways to take action by doing little things daily.
Step 6: Celebrate progress in your DEI Journey
Finally, acknowledge your progress towards being a more inclusive and compassionate person. Celebrate each milestone, no matter how small it may seem, and keep moving forward with joy and confidence.
Remember, your DEI journey is ongoing and full of ups and downs. But with persistence and compassion, you can improve the world!