Don’t Take it Personally

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When I think about what tends to get me frustrated from day to day one thing that stands out is annoying interactions with other people. Whether it’s being cut off while driving, someone responding rudely to me, or feeling disregarded, much of my frustration stems from me feeling personally offended by the behavior of someone else. Our responses to these types of behaviors often makes us miserable, while the person who frustrated us goes on their merry way. One way to let go of these frequent frustrations is by learning to not take things personally.

Not taking things personally is about not letting other people’s behavior control our moods and daily experience. Choosing not to take things personally empowers us to take responsibility for our lives and experiences instead of giving that power away to the people around us. Choosing not to take things personally does not mean that you never address ongoing, problematic behavior. However, when we don’t take things personally, we are in a better position to address upsetting behavior from a calm and measured place, which will ultimately lead to a more constructive solution. Continue reading “Don’t Take it Personally”

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3 Common Dating Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

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As the season for summer flings winds down and people start to make choices about whom to date more seriously, I want to share my thoughts on common mistakes people make when dating and my recommendations for how to make wise choices about romantic relationships.

I have had countless conversations with girlfriends about our dating lives. We talk about what the latest person (or people) we are dating are doing. What we hope potential partnerships will be like, what we hope they will look like, the amount of money we hope they will make, etc. Recently, I’ve begun to think that we are not focusing on the most important things during these conversations. My experience as a couples therapist has helped me to understand that many people have good intentions but are unaware of important building blocks for strong, healthy, long-lasting relationships. I think a lot of us date in ways that do not help us to understand whether the people we are dating will be good long term partners for us. Essentially, I think we focus on the wrong things, which leads us to make mistakes when dating. Continue reading “3 Common Dating Mistakes & How to Avoid Them”

Establishing Healthy Boundaries

fence-238475_1920Boundaries are important. I’m not talking about defensive walls or impenetrable barriers. I’m talking about the things that allow you to know what your limits are, what types of relationships you are comfortable with, and how far you are willing to go in various situations. As black women we may vacillate between having boundaries that let everything and everyone in and putting up emotionally concrete walls for protection. This dynamic reflects the tension that many of us feel between wanting to be loved and cared for and feeling the need to proactively or re-actively defend ourselves against being hurt emotionally. Unfortunately, too many of us have experienced the pain of heartbreak and betrayal that prompt us to build emotional walls which may be moderately successful at keeping us from getting hurt again but also prevent us from experiencing joy and connection. Continue reading “Establishing Healthy Boundaries”

3 Healthy Ways to Engage in Dating

Butterfly w-FlowerThe desire to be partnered is something I felt starting when I was a teenager; at age 16 I thought I would be married by the time I was 25 (ha!). I wanted an intimate emotional connection, a relationship built on mutual support and encouragement. This desire led me to engage in a number of relationships some were good, others weren’t, and I have learned a lot along the way. As black women, we are faced with unique dating challenges. There are stereotypes about our physical appearance, our attitudes, and sexual proclivities. There are assumptions that we are desperate to be in relationships and therefore willing to tolerate inappropriate behavior from partners. There are messages from the media that make it seem like black women are not desirable marriage partners or that the reason we are single is because we are too picky. This is a lot to navigate in the search for love. Continue reading “3 Healthy Ways to Engage in Dating”

4 Healthy Ways to Get Over a Break Up

antelope-canyon-1128815_1920My last break up came suddenly; the relationship with my then-boyfriend wasn’t perfect (and in retrospect it had more problems than I acknowledged at the time) but things seemed to be going fairly well. After 7 months, for no clear reason that he could explain, he broke up with me and we never spoke again. I was heartbroken; it wasn’t the worst heart break I had ever experienced but it was painful. Break ups are hard and most of us have experienced at least one. Whether you initiated the end of the relationship or it came unexpectedly, break ups always involve some form of loss and pain. For better or worse, I have experienced a number of break ups and I have counseled people through the end of relationships that only lasted a month to people who are getting divorced after being married for more than a decade. In this post I share four healthy ways to get over a break up. Continue reading “4 Healthy Ways to Get Over a Break Up”

Self-Love for Valentines Day

roses-690085_1280Self-love can make or break your Valentine’s Day whether you’re single or in a relationship. When I didn’t truly love myself (sometimes I still struggle with this), I always felt like the things boyfriends did to show their love for me fell short, or the happiness that their show of love brought would pass quickly. Part of the problem was that because I did not authentically love myself, I was looking for the people I dated to fill a void that only I could fill. If you are in a relationship this Valentine’s Day, you may be focusing on what your partner is going to do for you and if you’re single you may spend the time feeling down and complaining about potential partners. This year I charge you to do something different. I encourage you to reflect on how well you are loving yourself and to take some intentional steps to indulge in self-love on Valentine’s Day.

Continue reading “Self-Love for Valentines Day”