You may have heard me discuss this before about how I think supporting the LGBTQ+ community directly influences our initiatives to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. And the benefits of having diversity of thought and encouraging that in all facets of our lives – in our daily lives, in the people that we surround ourselves with, and in the workplace. You can read more about this, here.
For this article though, I want to talk about the health impacts of not feeling safe, included, and free to be who we are in life. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to learning about how our minds work. What I’ve learned over the last few years of actively learning and also digging into my own mental health struggles, is that our emotions, traumas, stresses – they’re all connected to our nervous system.
Where I’m going with this is that if we don’t feel like we belong, our brains are going to go into a trauma response (or survival mode) and our mind and body are going to react accordingly. Our nervous system is what guides our behavior so if we’re dysregulated, its going to negatively impact our health and well-being. I recently learned that our brain processes physical pain basically the same way it does when we feel emotional pain. I don’t know about you, but I’m forever changed by that realization.
How we make others feel – whether it’s good or bad – directly impacts what goes on inside their bodies. This is a huge deal, especially when it comes to DEI initiatives and striving to be better. The LGBTQ+ community experience mental health issues at higher rates than those in “heteronormative” groups. This is even more impacted if you’re in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) community.
First and foremost, I believe that we should be kind and show compassion to all people. But I don’t think that’s enough. Yes, in our daily lives we can be accepting and good to others but from a corporate/company standpoint if you aren’t showing that you are truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive in your workforce – people still aren’t going to feel that psychological safety they need to show their true selves.
My call for all of you during this month – Pride Month – is to actively support and amplify those in your network that are different than yourself. To lift those up in the LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and other marginalized communities, and give them the safety that they (and we all) need and deserve to be our most authentic selves.
Lastly, if you’re interested in learning more about our autonomic nervous system, here’s a great video breaking it all down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdIQRxwT1I0