Coping with Microaggressions in Manhattan

Microaggressions are

“the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.” (Sue, 2010)

They always seemed subtle to you, even when people intended them as compliments, but you learned to read between the lines and notice the implicit put-down or jabs they contained. Microaggressions often leave you (whether as a person of color, woman, LGBTQ person, and/or the intersections in the between) with a sense of confusion that makes you doubt your own reality and wonder what the fuck just happened. Working in Manhattan, you've had to figure out how to cope with microaggressions in your day to day--from the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to sleep. 

 You worked hard to get into your position, and "in the room." But microaggressions can make you feel like you don't belong in "the picture."

You worked hard to get into your position, and "in the room." But microaggressions can make you feel like you don't belong in "the picture."

 "I'm just gonna pretend I didn't hear that messed up thing you said, and distract myself with these spreadsheets."

"I'm just gonna pretend I didn't hear that messed up thing you said, and distract myself with these spreadsheets."

 "And that, Gladys, is how you insert a new column in excel."  "Y--you know I'm a computer technician, right?"

"And that, Gladys, is how you insert a new column in excel."

"Y--you know I'm a computer technician, right?"

Microaggressions, mental health, & resilience

Microaggressions are often referred to as “death by a thousand cuts,” in that these seemingly innocuous behaviors can cumulatively result in adverse short-term and long-term outcomes.

Studies have found that prolonged exposure to repeatedly micro-aggressive environments places people with marginalized identities at higher risk for anxiety, depression, and substance misuse, as well as cardiac problems and other medical maladies. Microaggressions can also leave you feeling hyper-vigilant, self-conscious, demoralized, and make you doubt your sense of reality.

This is due in part to being repeatedly exposed to stress. While some stress can be performance enhancing, too much can wear us down and be toxic. If we're not able to cope, we become more worn down over time. Some people respond to microaggresions by becoming more withdrawn, others respond by being more confrontational.

Both are perfectly normal reactions to feeling invalidated.

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I can help you improve your ability to cope with microaggressions by finding a balance between self-care and coping and mindfully confronting the victimizer. Sometimes that means learning how to respond in an assertive way that maintains your integrity and self-respect. Depending on the power imbalance between you and the other person, it may mean learning to accept not the insult, but accepting the reality that this is happening while also taking care of yourself emotionally

Quietly tolerating microaggressions can lead to resentment and a feeling of powerlessness, while confronting microaggressions every time they happen can quickly burn you out and affect your relationships. You and I will work together to make you more resilient, validate your reality, and find a balance that fits with your personality and coping style.

If you'd like to find a time to talk about how I can help you, you can book a phone consultation below. You can also find out more about features and perks that set my practice apart.