This is a simple tool to help when you are out in public or with people you don’t know.
Although it can be annoying or upsetting, it is good to remember that most people are not trying to hurt your feelings. Most people stare, comment or ask questions because they are curious. People often look longer than usual without knowing they are doing this. People might look or turn away because they are surprised or unsure how to act. People ask questions to try to understand. Even people who make comments may be (badly) trying to find out more. Only a few people are being mean.
Helping yourself, and them, to understand may make some of these things a little less difficult. Changing Faces uses: EXPLAIN – REASSURE – DIVERT
To yourself: Explain to yourself why something happened
Eg: “This person is curious about me. That is why they are staring”. “He has probably not seen my condition before.” “This comment is unkind but that is their problem, not mine.”
To the other person: Explain your condition to the other person, to help them understand
Eg: “It’s just a scar”, “I have something called vitiligo” or “My face is different, but I am just the same as anyone else.”
Now write down your own EXPLAIN phrases in a notebook
Yourself: Reassure yourself to help you feel ok
Eg: “I am ok.” or “This person does not mean to ignore me – they are looking away because they don’t know what to say.”
The other person: Reassure the other person by giving them more information
Eg: “It doesn’t hurt”, “I am fine with it” or “It’s ok, I’ve had it all my life.”
Now write down your own REASSURE phrases in a notebook
Yourself: Find other things to focus on in a difficult situation, so you do not think only about the bad things. What else is going on? Think about other things that make you feel good or say a nice phrase to yourself
Eg: Think about something you enjoy or your family or your pet. Count how many people are wearing red. Think about what you want to do for your birthday. Read a book or look at your phone.
The other person: Divert the other person away from talking about things that you are not comfortable with by talking about something else
Eg: “I love the chips here, don’t you?” or “What is your favourite book / film” or “Do you like football?”
Now write down your own DIVERT phrases in a notebook
Try practicing in these situations. Write down your thoughts…
You’re at the cinema. A new boy in your group stares at you as you arrive.
What would you say to yourself to EXPLAIN?
What might you say to him to EXPLAIN?
You’re in the park – a little girl asks you if it hurts.
What would you say to yourself to REASSURE yourself?
What might you say to REASSURE her?
A bunch of kids start giggling behind you… you worry they are laughing at you.
What would you say to yourself to DIVERT yourself away from this?
What might you say to DIVERT them?
It is up to you what you do or say in any of these situations, but it is good to know you have something ready. You might also like to look at the Preparing responses tool, the 3-2-1 Go tool or the Suit of armour tool