Microaggression 101: These subtle insults can mess up your mental health

Microaggression can cause self-doubt and negatively impact your mental health. Hence, it is important to identify it and deal with it effectively.
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Avoid overthinking. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Grace Bains Published: 7 Jul 2021, 18:16 pm IST
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How many times have you experienced or seen your female friends complimented for taking care of a situation like a man? Or, been interrupted during a meeting by male colleagues?

Well, so many of you must have been on the receiving end of such prejudicial behaviour, that stereotypes you and makes you feel unwelcome and judged.

When people’s inherent biases against marginalized people manifest, leaving the subjugated individuals feeling insulted, it is a form of abusive behaviour. Such behaviour can have a lasting impact on the mental health of its victims, making them stressed and drowning in self-doubt.

What is a microaggression?

Microaggressions are the subtle behavioural ticks amongst groups of people who have latent biases against certain marginalized sections of the society, based on gender, race and sexual preferences. Even if people are not explicitly insulting another individual, seemingly casual and veiled comments that make certain individuals feel mistreated or excluded can be classified as acts of microaggression.

Microaggression stems from latent biases but can have a significant impact on mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The stereotypical depiction of certain groups of people in literature and film, and the imposition of prejudicial views of close relatives contribute to people being micro-aggressive.

People are subjected to various kinds of microaggressions, in the form of innocently packaged actions or comments that reinforce cultural, religious or sexual biases. For example, a number of women experience microaggressive comments that undermine their intelligence. People from the LGBTQA community also face veiled derogatory assumptions and are denied opportunities at work and in social settings.

This is how microaggression can impact your mental health

Microaggressions adversely affect the individual’s mental health condition:

1. Triggers stress and anxiety

Microaggressions could lead to the development of inner conflicts and self-doubt. These factors may contribute to triggering stress and anxiety. A constant slew of insults and derogatory remarks are bound to cause the victim to harbour negative feelings, which only gets further aggravated by a lack of change of environment or behaviour of peers indulging in microaggressive acts.

Those who experience microaggression may also experience self-doubt and stress. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Causes mistrust and fear

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Microaggressions can cause mistrust amongst people as its victims experience a sense of confusion, anger and frustration. It is difficult to acknowledge and accept that your colleagues, friends and family members could behave in such a derogatory way, hence leading to hopelessness, and fear. Coping mechanisms such as denial and reliance on substance abuse may only further aggravate the paranoia and isolation.

3. Diminishes focus and productivity

Work, familial or educational responsibilities may take a toll as microaggressions can make the surroundings hostile and uncomfortable to operate within. Perpetuation of stereotypes invalidates the victim’s feelings, making them lose confidence and derailing their chain of thought, focus and productivity.

So, ladies, be on the lookout for such seemingly small and innocent acts and words and take charge of your mental wellbeing.

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About the Author

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book. ...Read More

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