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Othering is unhealthy

Fear and otherness

A state of fear invokes the “fight, flight or freeze” stress response. We know that stress leads to disease.  Minimizing stress will help to prevent disease and premature death.

We live in a binary world where one group is told to fear the “other”.  One way to guarantee fear of the “other” is to keep groups separated in their own silos with minimal communication between groups. Social media and bias promotes this phenomenon.

Society teaches us to fear those who do not look like us. If we understand and accept that, under the surface, we are all the same, there will be less reason for fear and less stress. We are also programmed to treat those of different  ethnicity, faith, socioeconomic status or different political persuasions as the “other” to be feared. If we accept that no matter what religion or political party folks follow, their basic human need and drives are the same as others. Once we realize the “others” are no different than us, we have no reason to fear, and stress will be reduced.

So how do we approach this issue in a healthier way? Start by getting to know the “other”. Visit places of worship different than your usual. In a nonthreatening way, ask others the origins of their political views, and peacefully listen to their reasoning.

If you make yourself vulnerable in the company of someone from another group, they will feel comfortable becoming vulnerable with you, and connection will be formed, the separation from the “other” will begin to break down, stress will be reduced.

Accepting that the “othering” phenomenon is designed to keep us fearful and coercible will help us breakdown the barriers between groups and make us healthier and happier. Why not give this a try? You will feel better about yourself and others. Good luck and good health!.

Dr. John Monaco

MONACO Wellness

(813) 541-6441

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