5 Ways To Use Your Cultural and Generational Upbringing to Your Advantage
Recently I was confronted with a question that caused me to take a closer look at my cultural and generational upbringing. Being of Puerto Rican descent and working in Hollywood as a line producer puts me in a somewhat uncommon position. To put it bluntly, it’s rare. And it did not come easily. There were plenty of struggles along the way in achieving and maintaining this position, some of which came in the form of ideas and mental barriers instilled in me over my lifetime. And I know I’m not alone in this.
This was really brought home to me a couple of months ago when I was asked by the catering crew on a film set I was working on if I was their “boss.” When I confirmed that I was indeed their line producer, they were surprised. They told me they’d never met or seen anyone who “looked like them” in that sort of a position before. It was then I realized there was really no one representing my culture in this specific field. And seeing it from their perspective prompted me to write this.
Society has a way of “programming” us to believe that because we’re from a certain place in society or have been brought up in a particular culture — or because we have certain traits or educational backgrounds or even skin color — that it necessarily dictates what we can and cannot accomplish in life. And the problem with this is: it works.
This programming, which I think is far too rampant in society, can be blatantly obvious or insidiously subtle. But regardless of how easily it is or is not seen, it can wind up dictating our lives whether to a large degree or smaller one.
The reality is that if you’re not at the same time taught to think “outside the box” because of your cultural background or your generational upbringing, or to completely disregard these heavily imposed ideas, they can become deeply ingrained and act as mental “chains” to hold you back in life by trapping you in a substandard mindset.
In an effort to counter or undo some of this mindset, I would suggest trying the following:
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1. Take an honest and objective look from your own perspective at your cultural and generational upbringing. You may be surprised by how the view looks from a more objective vantage. In taking a look, consider what may be valid versus what may not. It might be difficult at first since these ideas can be so sweeping and permeating, but I think if you can put an honest effort into this, you could well discover some interesting things.
2. Ask yourself what you honestly feel your strengths are personally. You can also while you’re at it look at any generational or cultural strengths, of which there may be many.
3. Then take a look at anything you may consider a personal “weakness,” ensuring you’re being as objective as possible. Decide if these are “real” weaknesses or if they’re something perhaps imposed on you by society, family, friends or associates. You may be surprised at how powerful others’ opinions can be.
4. On any of these “weaknesses” that may not seem valid, see if you can reevaluate or adjust how you feel about them. See if you can change your mind or at least be aware of any untruth in the idea, and at the same time take a look at the things others may use in life as excuses for not being successful culturally or generationally. The idea here is to be as honest as you can with yourself and to see if you can come out of this with a new perspective on yourself or your abilities. I’m sure at the very least you’ll find some areas where you can improve your overall approach to life.
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5. With this new “rehabilitated” perspective, take a look at any additional ways you may be able to improve yourself, educate yourself and move yourself closer to any life goals you may have given up on.
These “programmed” misconceptions are like seeds. They can be planted when you’re very young and continue to be fostered throughout your entire life. They can come from many sources and take root all too easily. And the worst part is that once they take root, they can grow deep and spread quickly. But the good news is that they can also be uprooted and removed, or at the very least reduced, providing you with a new perspective on life and a new approach for you both personally and professionally.