The River of Choices – Coping with the Stigma that may be Associated with the Past
Our life choices flow like a river in one direction – toward the future. Our choices of the past, whether good or bad affect our present and our future, however they do not define us. Today we can choose a new way to navigate down the river different than the way we did during when making our past choices
Quite often however, we may have to live with the consequences of our past choices. But again: we are not defined by our past choices. Even if we are still paying for past choices, we are a new person today who can change (for the better) and improve the way we live and make better decisions. People can and do change for the better with time and effort.
Discussion – Have you ever felt like others were defining you by your past choices?
Think about how society, family, or others may hold your past choices against you through the following:
> Being judgmental or prejudiced
> Discrimination or unfair treatment
Discussion – What are some ways that stigma may impact your life? Some possible examples below:
“I think about what others will say if they see the scars on my arms from my past”
“I worry about what others will think if they knew I take medication for my mental health (or addiction)”
“I dread the thought of certain people finding out about my past (or present) legal situation”
“When I meet new people, I feel uncomfortable that eventually they may find out about ____ (from my past)”