Don't be oversensitive to labels

Don't be oversensitive to labels

Disabled People's Association advocacy executive Alvan Yap asked if many of the people with disabilities would reject labels such as "brave", "inspiration" and "extraordinary", perceiving such terms as patronising to them ("'Positive' words paint unrealistic picture of disabled community"; April 1).

I had a serious stroke almost four years ago but have since regained 90 to 95 per cent of my previous abilities through sheer determination and hard work. I guess that qualifies me as a person who is disabled.

Let me say that I do not mind hearing those words, then or now. In fact, it will further encourage me to try and regain the remaining 5 to 10 per cent of my abilities.

Whether I see myself as courageous, inspiring or an example for others to emulate is not important. What is important is that others are appreciative of the effort that I have put in, and I am gracious enough to accept their appreciation.

This is similar to giving simple but multiple recognition to those who have done their jobs well.

In the past, there were some who said that giving too much recognition might numb the people who receive it, such that they become indifferent to it.

However, after working for so many years, I had not heard of anyone who was sick of getting too much recognition.

One should not be oversensitive to good or bad remarks or labels. Think positively. Give the benefit of the doubt to others, at least for the first two times to each of them.


Steven Lee Thien Poh


This article was published on April 9 in The Straits Times.

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