As we grow into womanhood, have kids, get married, get new jobs, etc. we are going to find our lives become busier and our personal space become smaller. It becomes more and more important that we have a space and time to ourselves.
Creating my own organization was never in my vision so on my worse days, giving up didn’t seem like a terrible idea. In the midst of climbing, I stopped caring for myself. I would often experience burnout. When my flame started to burn out, the vision for Crown of Courage slumped with it. I am a huge supporter of any Queen who has the nerve and determination to start something of her own so here are a few rules to live by
Have you ever had an experience where something you said came true, where it was almost as if you spoke that thing into existence? It's no coincidence, because there is power in our words. It is so important that we are careful as to what we say over ourselves and towards each other, because we can speak negativity or positivity into our lives.
As you can imagine, it was hard to find myself especially when I was 14 and I all I want to do was fit in. I would rock what they wore. I would over perm my hair and wear a stiff high ponytails. The whole time feeling awkward, because at my 14 year old booty was getting thick and those jeans were not made for me. I am sure you can relate to the little space between the top of the jeans and where your waist really starts. I was always the awkward black girl that kind of fit in, but was faking it.
I shutter at the thought of everything being "okay". The toughest battle you will ever fight will be with the woman in the mirror. Half of my mind tells me it will be "okay" while the other half has a funny way of reminding me how difficult life can be. I know how it feels to wake up in the morning, stare at the ceiling, and just ask God “Why?”
But after all this, I started to realize that I need a better way to deal with my problems. Most times I complain and just let it go, hoping it all works out, because I don't want to wallow in my sadness. I'm a good wall flower so anytime something bad happens, I get mad (and I mean real mad) and then just be like fuck this shit and go about my day. But that doesn't work all the time and to be honest, I'm not even sure that method works at all.
Today I’ll be giving you 5 practical tips that I’ve used to help me live a more productive and free life. Why 5? Well because 5 is the number of harmony, balance and divine grace. Some say it symbolizes the force and limits of man in our control of the universe…Basically, 5 is a cool number so let’s get into it!
I’ve never considered myself to be a very flexible or athletic person, so in high school gym class it was not at all unusual to find me struggling with a stretch or trying to get away with half-assed push-ups. One day, my gym teacher came to me and corrected my form. I quickly blurted out “Sorry!”
“Sorry!” usually goes over well. To me it was like saying, “I haven’t done my best, but I’ll try to do better!” and people usually like to hear that, but my gym teacher paused and looked me in the eye.
“You should be more careful with your ‘sorrys’,” she told me “Save them for when it counts.” CLICK TO TWEET
After that, I realized that maybe I was too generous with my “sorrys”. I was saying it almost automatically in so many different situations where I felt bad about what was happening and decided to fully assign blame to myself, whether or not I really deserved it. Even after this encounter, I continued this practice for years. Hell, I still do it sometimes now.
But I’ve learned that all of those “sorrys” add up to guilt, the heaviest stone in my emotional baggage. CLICK TO TWEET
Recently I’ve had to ask myself
“Why am I always so sure that I’m in the wrong? That I deserve bad things and that I’ll have to atone for wrongly assigned sins?”
Feelings of unfounded guilt are frequently associated with anxiety and depression. Distorted thoughts contribute to a poor self-concept and one becomes prone to blaming themselves for every little thing that goes wrong. Most of the time, I feel guilty about things that I have no control over, like taking time off when I’m sick or a thoughtless comment or faux-pas that I made a long time ago. My anxious mind likes to keep these things on deck just in case a pesky moment of peace comes up and needs ruining.
At the root of this self-blame was a belief that I was not good enough. I felt like I could never be anything more than a problem and that I deserved the burden of guilt for inconveniencing other people with my presence. So now, I’m on a mission to save my “sorrys” and work hard to be unapologetically me whenever I can!
Challenge Guilt. Be Selective with “Sorry”
Before you say “Sorry”, try to think about whether or not you really did anything wrong. If you did, of course you should apologize, but if you didn’t just remember that there is no written rule book that says that you should sacrifice your feelings so that others will feel better. As a habitual people pleaser, I know that this is hard, but self-care is the ultimate challenge y’all! This is about you and your self-worth.
Black women in particular are often made to believe that they should take on the burdens of others in silence. Nah, you don’t have to do that! And you know what else?
You are enough. Let go of the idea that you have to make others happy and comfortable in order to be worth anything. CLICK TO TWEET
I used to worry about whether I was pretty enough to be worthy of love or smart enough to make anything of myself. Now, I’ve realized that there’s no such thing as smart enough, but if there were, I’m pretty sure I would be. Every morning when I look in the mirror, I love the woman looking back a little bit more, and that’s as pretty as I’ll ever need to be. It’s like I’ve gained the ability to look back on my life and give myself credit where credit is due, forgiving myself for the slips and falls along the way. Not only that, but I forgive myself for the future, for the many, many mistakes to come. It’s okay. And if not, it will be soon. That sounds like such a cliche thing to say, but guilt, and the associated negative self-talk is all consuming. It makes you feel like nothing will ever change, like you’ve run out of possibilities. Before you give yourself a chance, you’re already tried and convicted.
So, from now on I’ve decided to live my life like I ain’t sorry. I’m saving my “sorrys” for mending and growth. Life is too short to let burdens overshadow light.
What are you going to stop saying sorry for? Let us know in the comment section below.
Rowana Abbensetts is a writer and mental health advocate from Brooklyn, NY. In addition to her blog, Spoken Black Girl, which focuses on mental health issues through the lens of Black womanhood, Rowana also writes short stories and is currently working on her first novel, Departure Story.
Meditation can be as easy as breathing. Learn from Tibetian Buddhist Master, Mingyur Rinpoche how you can improve your mental health by building meditation into your daily routine.
In what ways can you incorporate meditation into your routine? Comment below and share with a friend!
cover photo: www.everydayfamily.com
Blaque and Blue is dedicated to promoting women of color who are making strides in the area or mental health awareness. We were able to chat with Jasmin Pierre, mental health advocate and self help author, about her mental health journey and what she is doing to build awareness in the mental health community.
B&B: What is your interest in advocating for mental health?
JP: Before I started writing and advocating, I was in school for radiology. I never talked about mental illness. It was already a taboo subject for many, but for some reason many black people are so afraid to speak on mental illness. Many even find it to be a personal weakness.
When I was in my early teens I enjoyed watching the show girlfriends. Till this day a certain episode is forever grained in my thoughts. I remember when Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) was having some serious issues. She told her girls she felt she needed to see a therapist. Mya (Golden Brooks) told her "We're black we don't go to therapist we go to church". At the time, I laughed and agreed with that statement.
That's until I turned 20 and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I even tried to take my own life. However, somewhere in between all of the madness I finally conquered my fear of being labeled "mentally ill" and I got help!
B&B: What mental health projects are you currently working on?
JP: Right now I am currently working on a few articles for media websites. I try more and more to get my writing out there about depression. I also advocate daily. May it be sharing a post, article, or picture related to depression or mental health awareness
B&B: What influenced your decision to start on your book, "A fight worth finishing?
JP: Every project I start is to get the word out. To help someone who may feel alone going through this illness.
B&B: What is your personal motto for your mental health advocacy?
JP: My personal motto is "Keep Fighting". No matter how it may look never give up.
B&B: What is the one thing you would like to tell anyone who is hesitant to speak about their mental health story?
JP: I would tell them to do it when they're ready. Talking about your illness is not easy. I know first hand, but once you do it you will feel free. Also you never know who you may touch by coming out and telling people.
B&B: Where do you hope to see the future of mental health?
JP: I hope in the future we are able to cut the down the stigma. I hope we're able to find better methods of therapy. I also hope we have more and affordable healthcare for those who have a mental health illness.
B&B: Anything else you would like to share?
JP: Depression nearly killed me. Mental illness is not just in your head. Suicide is already the 10th leading cause of death in the United states. So when I finally woke up out of my ignorance on mental illness I decided I needed to wake up others as well. I also needed to let those who are still suffering know they're not weak. They're sick.
I recently wrote the self help book "A Fight Worth Finishing". All about my experiences with depression and suicide. How I recovered and came out stronger. I even talked about how my particular church didn't tell me to just pray my illness away. They didn't scold me for getting help. I touch on very important issues that I feel aren't spoken about enough regarding depression and the stigmas of society.
Do you know a women of color who is making great strides in mental health? Send us an e-mail so we can feature them.
Some days I wonder if what I’m doing is really impacting others. Some days I wonder what am I even doing. When I started blogging and working on my book, I was excited about the possibilities. I just knew someday I would gain a wide audience and become this inspirational person to the masses. Two years later, it seems like everyone’s a blogger now and everyone is writing self-published books now. There are times when I want to just stop because I feel like what I’m doing is no more significant than what everyone else is doing.
Has anybody else found themselves feeling this way?
Last week, I had the opportunity to interview trichologist and natural hair educator Dr. Kari Williams for Upscale Magazine. We discussed the word “over- saturated” and how it’s often used to describe certain work fields that are producing the most jobs and competition. I asked her for a bit of advice she’d give someone building a brand or looking to be an entrepreneur when they feel like they just can’t get their foot in the door of an “over-saturated” industry.
She talked about how the first thing everyone needs to do is have an abundance mentality.
If you walk into something feeling defeated or allow defeat to creep in you’ve already lost before you’ve even allowed yourself to win. CLICK TO TWEET
I keep replaying that comment over and over again in my head whenever I feel like just dropping everything. I had never heard of “abundance mentality” before. She explained to me that it’s the logic that there is enough for everyone and what you have is different because it’s coming from you. It’s original and that’s what makes it different.
What is “Abundance Mentality”
The Abundance Mentality flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.
So how do I manifest an abundant mentality?
There are a lot of ways you can shift your mindset. The first is by having gratitude. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, think about everything that you do have. Stop comparing yourself to others, their harvesting process is different from yours.
Water your own grass and stop looking at how green someone else’s grass is. CLICK TO TWEET
Another way to manifest an abundance mentality is sharing. As a kid your parents should have taught you that sharing is caring. By sharing with others it creates a healthy habit that we can all share a piece of the pie. We can all pull up a chair to the feast. There is enough for all of us so don’t be stingy. Share!
Resources are not scarce and believing things are ushers in greed, closes off connections and is draining. You’ll constantly feel like you have to be keeping up with someone or something. You’ll feel this jealousy. You’ll have this rushed process because if someone takes a bigger piece of the pie then that leaves hardly anything for you.
She spoke it to me in terms of hair care and as if someone was aspiring to be a hair stylist. She said, “There is enough hair in this world for every stylist to have a seat. People can do but so much hair in one day before it’s time to let someone else in so that you can rest.” Apply that same logic to what you’re doing.
Perspective is everything. CLICK TO TWEET
Are you feeling defeated and planning to use the abundance mentality? Let us know in the comment section below and don't forget to share with a friend.
Deja is an inspirational lifestyle blogger at Wanderlust Musings where she empowers women to be the best in all areas (career, love, friendships, spiritual journeys, etc.). She is a digital content writer for a plethora of web publications and has been featured on Black Voices at The Huffington Post, Madame Noire, Saint Heron, and Upscale Magazine. When she isn't writing, which is rare, she loves getting lost between the pages of a good book while doing a facial mask and sipping tea.
Over the last week, the African American population has been brought to tears and stress due to the on-going events with the nation's law enforcement. As a race, we are all processing the current events in diverse ways and just as black lives matter, black mental health matters.
We can't mobilize effectively if our hearts and minds are carrying hatred and confusion. CLICK TO TWEET
Take a note from these mental health tips below before jumping to action.
Journal: Right now, we all have so many thoughts going thru our heads dealing with our fathers, brothers, sons, cousins, nephews and male friends. You need time to process what is happening. Take time to write your poems, your stories, your thoughts, and anything you may be feeling. Let all those feelings out on paper, not people.
Cry (if you need to) : Yes, cry. When you saw Alton and Philando fighting for their lives, it was only normal to picture the men we love and care for in the same situation. Your tears are not a sign of weakness rather a sign of a gentle heart who understands the severity of the state of black man in our nation
Create your list of personal triggers: Triggers are things that you know will take you into a mental dark place. I worry so deeply about my black brothers in this struggle that when I see the video, I can't help but tear up. So, whenever I see the word "video" with an #Alton or #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, I quickly skim over it. The imagery is so detailed that I choose to stay informed by reading articles instead. Create your list of personal triggers to keep emotional well.
Unplug Yourself: This morning I woke up thinking that everything that happened this week was a dream, but when I looked at my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, I realized it wasn't. It was hard to comprehend and I began to feel depressed all over again. When you haven't processed everything going on it is hard to take in new information. Take your time and if you need to shut everything out for a few hours.
Stay Connected with Human Interaction: Staying connected involves more than just staying plugged into your Facebook or e-mail. Create a safe space between your friends and family where you can talk about the ongoing events. If you need to talk it out, it is almost certain that someone in your circle is having similar feelings. If you don't have a supportive network, join our private Facebook group. Here you can privately express your feelings with women of color across the world.
So much senseless killing has been going on this week, be sure to take care of yourself and stay hopeful.
What have you been doing to protect your mental health amongst the violence? Comment below to help others who may be struggling.
photo courtesy of: jixifox.me
Video Credit: Facebook
Have you ever felt like you just could not overcome your battle with depression? In this video, Prince Ea tells us how YOU can defeat depression by separating yourself from your illness. Click the video to be inspired.
Prince Ea is an inspirational content creator that shows people the power that they already have within themselves. See more of his work here
How will you work to overcome your depression today? Share with us below.
Like the video? Don't forget to share with your friends!
Five years later, I can still remember it so clearly. The day started relatively normal as I went to go see my boyfriend. Truthfully, we had never been on the same page, but for once, we were having a really good time. As the night began to fall so did my mood. I became irate. We got into a disastrous argument. In true bipolar fashion, I stormed out cursing his name.
I spent the next few days in a deep depression where I could barely find the energy to get out of bed. Days later, I emerged from what seemed like a horrible dream and gave him a call. As tears poured down my eyes, all I can recall saying is “This isn't normal. I think something is wrong with me. I think I may be bipolar” (Insert long awkward silence here). He proceeded to call me a crazy liar. I was in disbelief. I don’t think words have ever hurt me so badly.
Needles to say, he is now an ex-boyfriend. I learned a lot from that experience. Living with depression is difficult, but it shouldn’t keep you from having a fulfilling love life. Here are my tips for being in a committed relationship while you are going through your mental health journey.
- Be open and honest about your mental health journey. At first, it was hard being open. I was in a constant identity crisis, because I was hiding the “bad” part of me. Once you build trust in your relationship, it is important to let your significant other know where you stand in your journey. Leaving them in the dark will cause misunderstanding, but opening up will allow for him or her to support you. This brings me to my next tip…..
- Not everyone you date will understand and support your journey. When dating my ex-boyfriend, he did not understand how I could go from cheerful to depressed so quickly. I tried to explain to him that some days I will cry for no reason and that is okay. It is part of my depression cycle. My constant tears and depressive episodes would lead to criticism and further pain from him. In the long run, I learned, if your significant other really loves you, they will support you in your journey.
- It is no surprise that when you first start a relationship you become completely immersed with your significant other, but my advice is to maintain your strong support circle. I let a lot of my independence go so when we broke up I felt alone. If you were going to therapy before you were dating, ... DON’T STOP! If you were seeing your friends twice a week,,.... DON’T STOP. Even if you have one day a week where you have alone time,...DON’T STOP! These are the that will keep you mentally balanced.
- Develop key phrases that let your significant other no how you are feeling. I tell my current boyfriend that “Today is not the day”. With this phrase, he knows that I am either feeling depressed, having anxiety, or dealing with something else. Whatever is the case, he understands that today is not the day to upset me.
- Don’t let your depression define the way people love you. Stephen Chobsky once said “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Sometimes we think we should take what we can get, because we are going through things in our lives. I thought that my mood swings and depression justified someone calling me a crazy liar, but it did not. Always remember that you are a beautiful person who deserves genuine, unconditional love. Never settle for less than what you deserve.
- This is the most important tip you will ever receive. Always, love yourself first. The way you feel about yourself reflects in your relationship. If you are insecure about yourself, it will show through in your relationship. If you are feeling down, take time to regroup and remind yourself of the queen you are. Remember, if you don’t truly love yourself no one will.
Now, after a lot of heartache and lessons learned, I am thrilled to say I am in a loving relationship with a man who may not always understand, but is willing to stand by me during my mental health journey. Love is a beautiful feeling. Don’t let depression stop you from finding the love you deserve. Stay Hopeful!