People who face challenges that are stigmatized (substance use, mental health, unemployment, justice system entanglement) often internalize that stigma. Internalized stigma can paralyze you, preventing you from reaching your goals or even taking a small step.Woman peeking out through her fingers

During this time of upheaval, you will feel overwhelmed. It is easy to feel stuck, but you must move past the stigma to heal.

Still, doing so is difficult if there is no vision. Before we go somewhere, we have to visualize where we are going. But how do you find a vision?

Art: One Path to a Vision
The North Carolina Museum of Art has an exhibit called “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” The fashion fair was created in part to provide African American women with a vision. As a brochure about the exhibit said,

[It] provided transformative images of African Americans as beautiful and successful. The show was far more than a display of fabulous clothes; it offered black women a vision of what they could wear and, ultimately, who they could be.

I recently sent a letter to the NCMA requesting that they donate tickets to RCNC, a nonprofit that serves people in and seeking recovery from addiction. I serve on the board of RCNC, and their target population is the same as the people my company serves. 

The NCMA agreed to donate the tickets, and I will be there Dec. 15 with a group from RCNC.

I hope that seeing the fashion fair will help some of these women visualize themselves as self-advocates. I want them to envision themselves creating their strategy, preparing themselves emotionally, feeling confident during difficult conversations, and building relationships.

You might find your path through art, as I’m suggesting, but you also might gather inspiration elsewhere, too.

Next week we’ll discuss how to use your vision to meet your self-advocacy goals.