Coping with Microaggressions in Manhattan (NYC)


What are microaggressions?

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 subtle put-downs and 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. 

How Microaggressions impact your mental health

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 you're not able to cope, you get 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 Some people respond to microaggresions by becoming more withdrawn, others respond by being more confrontational.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.

How can therapy help you cope with microaggressions?

I can help you improve your ability to cope with microaggressions by finding a balance between 1) self-care and coping, and 2) mindfully confronting the victimizer.

Sometimes that means learning how to assert yourself in a 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 feeling powerless, while confronting microaggressions every time they occur can quickly burn you out and affect your relationships. You and I will work together in counseling to find a balance that fits with your personality and style, so you can be more resilient and centered in your truth.

My approach is grounded in evidence-based approaches to coping with stress and conflict, and informed by my own experience of dealing with microaggressions as a Puerto Rican/Latinx man in New York City.

If you're in Manhattan (NYC) and would like to find a time to talk, you can book a free phone consultation below.