Do's & Don'ts - Body Positivity CHEAT SHEET -
aka 'how to not inadvertantly New Age Illness Shame someone'
Here are the Do's & Don'ts for how to avoid inadvertantly New Age Illness Shaming someone, and how to be Body Positive in the New Age spirituality field. I consider this a down & dirty guide to not offending people, and you should call it your secret weapon!
88% of disabilities are invisible. This means that 88% of the time, you will NOT see a walker or wheelchair but the person is still disabled. This means 88% of people with disabilities look just like you and me. 20% of Americans have a disability and that's a LOT of people.
It's important to follow the guidelines in this guide because you will never know how many people you have offended or that decided not to buy from you because you didn't know the Do's & Don'ts around illness & disability for the spiritual field.
These guidelines can be printed out & hung in your yoga center, used for spiritual discussion, or forwarded to others to educate them about Body Positivity. I hope you find these tips of value in strengthening your relationships with friends & clients. Note that while these tips may be shocking to someone who is able-bodied, this does not make them any less applicable to people with invisible illness or disabilities.
New Age Illness Shaming IS a rampant form of spiritual bypass and it needs to change. However, most New Age Illness Shaming is truly unintentional. I would dare to say, 80% of New Age Illness Shaming is unintentional and coming from a place of just not being aware of the proper etiquette or what to say. And that's why I've made this book [FREE downloadale ebook linked at beginning & end of article].
Don't beat yourself up if you've said something on the list. Just be conscious of this, and we'll do better going forward. ~Big big love, Kai
1. Don't state your opinion or give suggestions on someone else's health, illness, disability or condition unless they've specifically asked you for it.
2. Do NOT recite the Law of Attraction to someone suffering with an illness or disability, as if they've never heard it before.
3. Don't recommend mindset work to someone you haven't spoken with at length privately.
4. Don't ask health questions in a social setting.
5. Don't suggest a person's body part is 'telling them' something.
6. A person with an illness or disability doesn't owe you any explanation of their condition. Let the person enjoy positive social time & not overly focus on illness.
7. Understand the 5 stages of grief. Someone with illness or disability may be struggling with loss. It's important to accept the stage the person is in and don't push for 'healing.' The 5 stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
8. Be mindful, respectful, and humble. Illness and disability are very personal and possibly incredibly painful subjects to discuss. Handle the issue with delicacy, respect, care, and PRIVACY.
9. If you are triggered by someone else's illness & must discuss, deny, find the 'cause,' change, fix, or explain it, consider that this need, is your own fear of illness.
10. Don't tell 'inspirational' or impressive stories of 'healing.'
11. Don't attempt to sell products, supplements, food, coaching, or healing services because you found out someone has an illness, condition, or disability.
12. Don't assume your beliefs are the only valid beliefs about illness or disability. Keep an open mind and listen with compassion & religious/spiritual tolerance.
13. Don't tell someone they have an 'emotional' issue or 'emotional' block.
1. DO listen for the person's cues and hints that they don't want to talk about their illness or disability. If a person changes the subject, avoids answering your question, or says, 'I don't want to talk about my health,' respect their wishes.
2. DO ask health questions privately.
3. DO talk about yourself. Tell us about your life, I promise, we love hearing it.
4. DO talk about neutral subjects. Anything that doesn't involve hospitals, illness, medications, or Drs is a welcome reprieve. We are tired of talking about our disability..
5. DO keep your language nonspecific. For instance, if you are teaching a class, do NOT use a person or their condition as a class example to 'fix.' Or, if you love coaching people about raw foods, do NOT single out the person with an illness to 'teach' for all to see. Use a neutral, non-specific example instead.
6. DO act normal. We don't want 'extra' attention because of our disability.
7. DO handle the topic of illness with grace. Just because the subject 'came up' doesn't mean it's an invitation to discuss, coach, or 'suggest.' Don't dwell, teach, or comment on the subject of the person's illness/disability unless they've asked.
8. DO listen without telling us what to do. We want someone to listen, NOT 'direct' us, or tell us what's 'wrong' with us.
9. DO believe them. Not all illnesses and disabilities are visible. Just because you cannot see an outward limp, cast, crutch, walker, or wheelchair, doesn't mean there isn't something going on in someone's blood, organs, joints, or etc.
10. DO validate them. No matter what their feelings are, or where they are at in their journey, it's valid. Support them.
DOWNLOAD THIS CHEAT SHEET -
so you can print it out & hang it in your yoga studio, or, share it with New Age Illness Shamers.