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”→
“And this is for Colored girls who have considered suicide, but are moving to the ends of their own rainbows.”
– Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Imagine what it would be like if every day began to feel grey. You wake up, struggle to get out of bed, maybe you don’t make it some days. Things got worse when someone you had a crush on raped you after you flirted and danced at a wonderful party. You felt ashamed and deeply hurt. You didn’t feel you could tell anyone for fear of people blaming and questioning you. You don’t feel there’s anyone you can call. You get the sense that everyone dislikes you. People are slow to respond to text messages. You know that you used to have the energy to engage in life but you can’t remember what motivated you before. You cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel. You begin closing in on yourself. Ignoring calls and texts from family and friends. Assuming that they don’t really care, that they don’t really want to hear about how you’re doing. You start drinking and smoking more to numb out the difficult feelings. You feel guilty for not enjoying your life. You have a job that pays well, an apartment, a car, nice clothes, a couple of degrees. You should be happy, right? You start having thoughts that there is no way you can be in this place of loneliness, isolation, despair for long. You’re not sure how much you can take. Continue reading “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide”→
Black women have been socialized to be superwomen. To take on everything ourselves, to fill in gaps and handle responsibilities that other people relinquish. Taking on things by ourselves and pushing through difficult times has allowed Black women to accomplish amazing things and it has also taken a toll. As children, many of us saw the women in our lives taking on the world and rarely asking for help. It may have been implicitly or explicitly communicated to us that asking for help is a sign of weakness. However, not asking for help when you need it can lead to feeling overwhelmed and reaching a breaking point. Not asking for help can contribute to depression, anxiety, general stress, and health issues. Not asking for help can limit our ability to take care of ourselves and build resentment in relationships. Continue reading “Letting go of Superwoman: Asking for Help”→
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audrey Lorde
We are in the midst of troubling times and it’s not clear when we will get relief. In my last post I talked about the trauma many of us are experiencing in response to the killing of black and brown people in the US. After I shared my post, many of us witnessed the shooting of 11 people, most of whom were police officers, by a black man who stated that he was angry at police and white people, and seemingly fed up by the frequent and disproportional killings of black people by police. This has heightened already elevated tensions between black people and police. No matter where you fall in the context of this debate, as black people it is essential that we take care of ourselves during these trying times. Continue reading “Self-Care: A Form of Activism”→
When was the last time you experienced a difficult emotion? Was it a break up? Losing your job or being passed over for a promotion? Your child acting out or being hurt? Learning that a close family member is not well? Whatever caused the emotional difficulty, think about how you responded to this experience. Did you suppress the emotions that arose and try to move forward like nothing was wrong? Did you get overwhelmed by what you were feeling and do something that you regretted later?
With the exception of anger, Black women are often socialized not to express our emotions. Many of us were scolded if we cried or showed that we were upset as children. There may not have been room to express our frustration or disagreements with parents or siblings in a healthy way. As we got older people we dated may have communicated that our emotional responses were not okay. In addition to those experiences, we may have been traumatized by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. All of these things can cause us to have a complicated relationship with our emotions. Continue reading “4 Healthy Ways to Respond to Emotions”→
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns that people experience and black women are no exception. The pressures that black women face related to handling responsibilities at work and home, with family and friends can lead to anxiety. Feeling like you have to work twice as hard to be recognized or that you have to do everything perfectly for fear that a mistake will not only reflect badly on you but on the entire race is anxiety provoking. Further, worrying about your physical and emotional safety and weathering the jabs of microagressions is exhausting and can lead us to be on edge. While anxiety is an understandable response to these difficult circumstances, it is associated with increases in cortisol (stress hormone), which can cause our bodies to function poorly over time. Understanding our anxiety and learning to manage it while we work to change the systems and circumstances that make us more likely to experience stress is essential for our health and well being. Continue reading “Understanding & Managing Anxiety”→
The last time I was really depressed was in response to a break up; unexpected heartbreak sent me into a depressive episode that took a few months to pass. I was crying frequently, my appetite was low and I started to lose weight, I’m usually an outgoing and sociable person but I didn’t want to spend time with my friends, my energy and mood were low, and I felt sad most of the time.
Sometimes depression comes in response to a difficult experience like a break up, the loss of a friendship, or a loved one passing away. Other times, depression emerges unexpectedly and without a clear trigger. No matter what prompts depression, it seems to roll in like a heavy thundercloud, weighing on us, making the air thick and hard to move through, blocking out the sun and warmth, and causing us to question what life was like without this cloud of depression and to wonder whether whether this storm will ever pass.
Boundaries 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”→
We all have hard days; the ones where things just don’t seem to come together. When our mood is low and we’re irritable, when it feels like nothing we or anyone else does can make us feel better. Sometimes these days are caused by difficult circumstances and other times it’s unclear where they come from. If you’re having a lot these types of days in a row for several months, it may be a sign of depression which should be treated in the context of therapy (see this post for guidance on finding a therapist). However, even a few days of feeling blue can be hard to manage. In this post I will share the strategies that I use when I’m having a hard day and hopefully they will help you make it through yours with grace and awareness. Continue reading “Making it through Hard Days”→
Self-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.