What is mental health? Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Let’s lift this out of the first paragraph, “It affects how we think, feel, and act.” If your mental health is not in check, it will affect the way you think and feel about yourself. It will affect the actions you take concerning yourself. Yes, it will affect others, too, but today we are talking about you and self-love. When you don’t take care of your mental health you may not be able to see yourself through the correct lenses. You may not make the best decisions for yourself. I know from personal experiences.
Mental health challenges distort the truth. It distorts facts. When I am challenged with anxiety, I have to first realize that I am anxious. I am anxious about my current situation or the future. I have to tell myself; I can’t trust anything I am thinking and saying right now because I am feeling anxious. It’s not until I start to build the momentum to pull myself out of anxiety or depression that I can trust what I am thinking and feeling. Feelings pass. “Thoughts” can change. It is especially important to remember that when you are going through something that affects your mental health. A loss of a family member, being fired from your job, the breakup of a relationship or mental illness.
Taking care of your mental health or mental illness is pertinent to your overall health but, it also is a sign of loving yourself enough to deal with the mental issues you have. You must be brave to face the facts. You must be even braver, to take the step to talk to your doctor and to seek out a mental health professional. It’s wonderful to pray about it but, your breakthrough comes when you accept the help available to you. For the super religious, God created therapist and psychologist. There is one of your race and culture and religion. AND God loves them and approves them just as much as he loves and approves you and primary care physician. They are walking in their calling, too. They are anointed, too.
So, my love, take care of your mental health. If you want to show yourself that you love yourself, take that step. I’m with you all the way.
Water in the hole! Yes! Water! Believe it or not, MUSIC can help deepen the roots of self-love because music is an elixir. Think of it as watering your seeds of love for yourself. Have you ever listened to a song, closed your eyes, forgot you couldn’t sing, and lost yourself in the lyrics? The lyrics hit home. Where is home? The heart. The soul. You FELT it.
Make you a playlist that saturates your heart. I promise you that in times of feeling low about yourself that music will lift you up. I have this playlist that I listen to whenever I don’t feel loved. It’s a list of songs about love and being a woman. It’s a list that has songs that talk about the strength of a woman, the heart of a woman, and songs that make me feel the beauty of feminine energy. There are songs on that list that help me imagine what love would be like and feel like. I always feel empowered and a surge of love when I am listening to it. Love songs that remind me of what I deserve.
Sounds simple because it is. It doesn’t always have to be complicated to enrich your love for yourself. Much like exercise, music has been shown to increase oxytocin and serotonin levels in your brain, both of which can be instant mood-boosters according to Behavioral Health Science.
Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife. -Kahlil Gibran
Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends. – Alphonse de Lamartine
Where words fail, music speaks. – Hans Christian Anderson
What do YOU want? Not what your family wants, not what your friends want, not what society wants, not what your religion wants, and not what your significant other or spouse wants. But what do YOU desire for your life? What does your life look like for you?
It’s important to know what you want because how else will you create the life YOU, emphasis on YOU, want to live? Self-love requires satisfying YOUR soul. Is your soul satisfied with the life you are living? Is it satisfied with the job, the environment, with others’ dreams for you? Is it satisfied in the church, temple, or mosque you attend? Is it satisfied with the relationships in your life?
If you don’t live your life according to you and the Creator, how will you ever truly satisfy your soul? I was MAKING myself to attend a church, I was getting very little spiritual nourishment from because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didn’t want to embarrass my family by going somewhere else. I was feeling guilty. I loved the community it was in. I loved the people there but I wasn’t getting much out of the messages. I was so miserable the night before church and bored out of my mind during certain parts. I was happy to be actively involved with projects but I was sacrificing my soul at certain points of the service. I had outgrown this place.
Why was I feeling guilty? There is nothing wrong with being where your soul feels at peace. I had to learn that. In many religions we are made to feel guilty about not carrying out certain practices and rituals. Was I to be loyal to everyone else and what they wanted for me or was I created to be loyal to MY soul’s desires for my life? Loving yourself deeply means tending to your soul and the desires of your soul. What makes your soul happy? Not your flesh but your SOUL?
Take some time. Block out some time. Get away from everyone. Get you a notebook and pen. Dream. Fantasize. Think about what you would like to do with your life. This is judgement free time so it’s not a time to think about what others want of you. If they would be happy or not. WHAT WOULD YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE IF YOU WERE LIVING THE WAY YOU DESIRE? What would you be? What would you do with your time? Where would you go? What’s your hairstyle? What’s your hair color? What’s your clothing choice? What kind of jewelry are you wearing? What are your friendships like? What is your significant other like? What does your home look like?
Satisfying your soul by living out your dreams, YOUR dreams, is an ACT of self-love. – Nicole Jackson
When I was in my 20’s I showed up to work wearing all black one Valentine’s Day to show my UN-appreciation of this holiday. I was single. I was bitter. I was OVER IT. I knew I had to be at work for 10 hours as flowers, candy, bears, baskets, and balloons were delivered to the job. It was laughable then as we all laughed about it on the job and it’s laughable now because I can say I was honest about how I felt at that time. (I told them days before I was going to do it).
It’s funny and not funny how things and days can affect how we feel. We allow it to. We choose it. Sometimes we can’t help it. The next day I went out to get the half off Valentine’s Day candy for myself. Happy Valentine’s Day to me! The next year, I passed out candy to all of my co-workers. I didn’t want anyone to have that feeling as gifts rolled in.
Those that love “love” like to express it. Some that are withdrawn, can’t stand mushy lovey dovely stuff, once loved or need love. I began to appreciate ANY DAY that brings GOOD, POSITIVE, HAPPY, LOVE ENERGY. I don’t care if it’s man made. I started to like how the colors of pink, red, white, purples, filled the drab warehouse that was often filled with stress. It also said to me, you may not be loved or appreciated on the job but, someone out there, in the world, loves and cares about you. And they are showing it. I learn to be filled with love in appreciation for the love others were receiving. Seeing others happy and smiling made me happy and smiley lol.
So, every year I celebrate Valentine’s Day by gifting myself, my parents, and a single friend something. I have a daughter and I give her something every year as my parents did my younger brother and I. Sometimes, they still give me something! Send a card. Send or give flowers. Call someone and tell them how much you appreciate them. Do something for your nieces and nephews on that day. Run the love meter up!
“Maybe if you weren’t so closed off and boxed in, you could just enjoy the moment.” He said.
I won’t tell you what proceeded this statement because it may not be embarrassing to the person but, it is definitely embarrassing to me. I got over the embarrassment quickly because the words “closed off and boxed in” is what cut me deep. Why? I am glad you asked.
I was very shy growing up. I also grew up in a home that was more reserved based on Christianity and simply being taught manners that went beyond “Yes ma’am and No sir.” We were taught how to conduct ourselves in public to the best of my parents ability. And there were certain things I learned on my own and through others throughout my life in certain settings and culturally. Some things I learned by error and embarrassment. There are things I had to “unlearn” but also continue to do. In some countries, eating with your hands in considered a loving thing to do. It’s connecting with food. For the African American, the colonizers deemed many of our practices “uncivilized” instead of simply different culturally. Funny how this thought pattern continues to foster in American thinking.
Back to “closed off and boxed in” and why it deeply hurt my feelings. Growing up in a diverse neighborhood (different financial statuses and classes of people) and going to different schools outside of my neighborhood, often got me labeled as, “stuck up” and later relabeled as “bougie”. My natural shyness and quietness didn’t help. I never was a wild child in the sense of being adventurous like skipping school, doing drugs, or fighting. I never cared for loudness as it was often too loud in my home with complaints and arguing. BUT it was also loud with laughter and sibling shenanigans. I also grew up in a loving, protective, and caring neighborhood.
But many times in school and in other neighborhoods, in other family dynamics (cousins), I was often told I was too shy. Too quiet. Too stuck up. Too bougie. I must think I am all that. I must think I am better than everyone else. I often wondered “What did I do?” “What did I do wrong?” I could never understand what was so wrong about being who I was. Let me tell you as I am sure you must know, it’s still the same way in adulthood. A few years ago I was told by a classmate, “I was too quiet for her.” Well guess what? “She’s too loud for me” but, I never said that to her because I allow her to be who she is. I just want the same respect. Some people are loud. Some people are quiet. It is who they are. They did nothing wrong.
But when you start to tell me that poor manners, lack of respect for others feelings and space, being obnoxiously loud and rude, that not caring about people’s property, or not having self respect for yourself and others is being “closed off and boxed in”, bougie, stuck up, well I vehemently disagree. If you tell me that because I am unwilling to bungie jump, I am not adventurous enough, then screw you. It’s more about my level of adventure and risk. I have been told I am not spontaneous because I didn’t want to take the road less traveled into some dark deep woods. I am spontaneous. Just not venture off into “don’t go there because it’s not safe for Americans” spontaneous.
It hurt my feelings because it made me feel as if something was wrong with me. Weird because you try new foods and cultures. Weird. Because you’re a black girl that paints abstract art. Weird because you want to attend things other than movies and chain restaurants. Weird. You’re black and you enjoy…history. Weird. You only have ONE child. It hurt my feelings because I felt rejected.
I really had to work at NOT feeling so hurt about what was said to me and my “sensitive ass” as that has also been said to me. I guess they never considered they may be an “insensitive ass”.
You are weird = You are unique. One of a kind.
You are closed off and boxed in = You are sophisticated.
You are too quiet = I am too quiet for you. I am me. I like quiet.
You are not adventurous/spontaneous enough = “to you”. You for got to add, to you.
You are bougie = Yes. I am “hood” and “classy”. Yes. I have been exposed to things, places, cultures, outside of my immediate neighborhood. Yes. I like the finer things in life. Yes, I like a fried bologna sandwich and I also enjoy an upscale fancy smancy restaurant overlooking the city. Yes I may go to war and pray afterwards. You’re welcome.
You are stuck up = Yes. I am sometimes prim and proper. I know how to conduct myself in many circles. I am diverse. I eat with silverware. I’ll eat with my hands in cultures where that is the norm. I don’t pile my plate up at buffets because it’s a buffet and I can always go back and get more. I don’t do loud and public drunkenness (okay maybe in Vegas lol). I think about my attire and if it’s appropriate for the occasion. Yes. I am stuck up.
I don’t think I am better than anyone else. They probably just “think” that I “think” I am better than others based on their own feelings of inadequacies or perceived thoughts about me because I do things different. Perception of yourself and how a few see you doesn’t matter if their perception contradicts who you are. Am I friendly? By enlarge, yes. Am I loving? By enlarge, yes. Am helpful? By enlarge, yes. So, DON’T forgive me if I am sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, don’t get loud in quiet settings, don’t pick my teeth at the table with a straw, slaps bones (play dominoes) at the cookout but, will try croquet at Martha’s Vineyard, drink sweet tea from a mason jar and turn my pinky finger up with tea and tea cakes. Please, DON’T forgive me if I try my best to do right and improve myself. I love me some me.
We’d like to think we are like the watch that takes a lick and keeps on ticking but, in reality that is not the case. Some times we can only take so many lickings before we need rest or restoration or something repaired and replaced. This morning I was suppose to have a breakfast date. It didn’t happen. I was not surprised. I was not surprised because I just had “that feeling.”
As I started to make breakfast at home, I thought about the live session Iyanla Vanzant had yesterday via Facebook. The part that came up was “Say Yes.” Of course saying yes to things going your way or well makes sense but, saying yes to things not going your way or things that do not make sense isn’t easy. And well, it doesn’t make sense either. I am familiar with this line of thinking. So, getting the toaster off the shelf, I said, “I don’t like being stood up or ghosted for breakfast this morning, but yes to it. Yes. I can remove him from the list of possibilities. I saw he had removed himself from my friend’s list. Welp. But…not. 😀 One thing about life, it goes on.
I took a lick. I stopped ticking but, shook myself and poof…ticking again. In life, in love, in dating, we take licks of various sizes, distances in drops, even spills and we continue to tick. Fascinating. Aren’t we.
I know that this year has been filled with disappointments to say the least. More so than usual because of the many things that are going on in our world and in our personal lives. School in person or school online? Coming to work on a schedule or working from home? You can’t find the essentials and now we add the intentional slowing of mail. Drive by birthday parties or scaled down gatherings? It’s got many of us on edge anticipating the next let down as if we can be prepared for it. And well, in some ways we can and in some ways we can’t.
Newsflash! We are human. Even if we control our responses, we may not always do it right away. That is okay. Sometimes things hit us from behind and we have to gather our senses and come to ourselves (or the facts or become aware of our options). Sometimes our plan B goes out the window and there are no plans C-Z available and we have to feel the sting of being let down. Disappointment. In this unpredictable time, this strange year, it can make us weary. This is one hell of a roller coaster that none of us volunteered to be on (But we did when came into this world and if one could understand that, it would make the ride a little less traumatizing and more what the hell did I sign up for?).
So, I pondered yesterday, what the hell did I sign up for? What lesson is in this disappointment that I seem to be experiencing over and over this year? Am I hearing you right God? I seem to be missing it in this area. I seem to be losing money that I don’t really need to lose in these uncertain times. It’s August. What is the lesson in this money themed disappointment? And, I am tired of learning it late!
The lessons for me are: “Listen when you first hear it and take action. DO NOT IGNORE THE FLASHING RED LIGHT.” The second lesson is: “Listen. See it not go the way you planned and do it ANYWAY (adjust) or do it ANOTHER way (another time).” God is fine tuning my intuition, my listening ear to Spirit. My disappointments this year have antagonized me and many times I have wanted to throw in the towel on everything. But, what about the things you are DEVOTED to? That’s right, you can’t live in your disappointments, you must live through them and you must remember the path you are devoted to.
Your devotions to yourself, your family, your life path is what matters. It is what you must choose over your disappointments no matter how many you may experience. Focusing on your disappointments keeps you living in the past and you were not created to live in the past. You were created to live in the NOW and to create the future with your thoughts and actions. Your devotions over your disappointments will propel you forward, like the catalyst I talked about last Sunday. It will compel you to come out of the darkness of sadness, trauma, anxiety, depression, anger and back into the marvelous light of life, love, ups and downs yes, and your path. Your devotions bring you back to reality. Disappointments can be temporary, they can be lessons, and they can be signs to guide you into a greater understanding of your mission, YOU, and life itself.
Whether you are waiting for love (for Christian women, waiting on a man to FIND you), or if you are out there actively looking for love, what happens when your hope is continuously deferred? What do you do? The Bible reads when hope is deferred (the hope of finding love, hope of love finding you, hope of maybe this will work out in this case), the heart grows sad.
To seek or not to seek, that is no longer my question. The dating pool is filled to compacity and overflowing. And it needs to be cleaned! Or maybe, one needs to get out and wash, rinse, disinfect their chakras (spirit, thoughts) sit on the side lines and sunbathe (soak up some positivity) for a while. What I am saying is, sometimes, MANY times, you need to take a break! Take yourself off the market for a while when your heart grows sad.
Deferred means what you want, desire, is delayed and not denied. It means it has not come into manifestation when you think it should have. In my case, today lol. It hard to focus on the “not denied” part when you are constantly disappointed. Therefore, I urge you to take a break. Refresh yourself. Unplug from the dating scene. Come up for air, sis! You do not want to drown in disappointments. It will make you bitter. When you start feeling that gloom and doom, that “No one wants me. I am never going to find love, or it is never going to find me”, this is the time you need to STOP. BREATHE. Shut down every avenue of dating. It is time to refocus on the truth and those thoughts are not the truth. They are feelings manifested from hope deferred.
Focus on your spirituality, your connection with the Creator. It is time to read some things that will give you HOPE again and CONFRM the truth about what it is you are hoping for. I will not say you should be working on you as a woman because men should be working on themselves, too. Which, this type of thinking is part of the problem. Women have read every book, showed up at conferences, listened to leadership harp on being a good wife. While in the meantime, boys will boys. Well, newsflash! They are no longer boys. They are grown (growing) men. And in the Bible, it says when I was a child I spoke as a child, understood as a child, thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Woosah! And I breathe. The imbalanced pressure has produced more mature women and has left the men to be boys in their thoughts and actions. This is an overall statement. I am just being truthful and honest.
Now, back to helping ALL of us. Hope may be deferred, but when that longing is fulfilled it will produce a tree of life. It will give you life. Okay, that is great but, what about that in between time BEFORE the longing is fulfilled. Well, when you run out of hope, remember to use your faith. FAITH in your High Power, FAITH that the Universe will give you what you desire. Build your hope back up with faith, affirmations, reading, praying, meditating. And do you know the biggest thing that helps me? I refocus on my dreams and goals. I give more time to my purpose and plans. I get into it. Then when I am ready, after I have had a good breather, sat on the sidelines sunbathing, I open myself back up fully to dating. I rarely shut myself all the way down. I just remove myself from the pool. There is this saying, “Get your weight up” and it means many things. But, in this situation, it means get your hope up. Get stronger. Get your weight up. Get your faith up. I just heard Jim Carey say, “Hope walks through the fire, Faith leaps over it.” Sometimes you must walk through a fire, sometimes you must leap over it. Leap over this despair and look to the hills(up) which comes your help. Look within, look beyond your despair to the truths about yourself. Maybe you have work to do on yourself, but it is not so you can find a man and be a good wife. I think good people, mature people, spiritual people make good mates period. And I hope we begin to shift that narrative in the world today. Men have some catching up to do.
All of us have changed physically as we are all aging. Some of us however, have changed physically and it’s not because of aging, but because of some situation, circumstance, accident, incident, illness, or disease. These are the UNEXPECTED changes that affects us physically and mentally. We all seem to have the initial shock of it all, but not many of us embrace it with the same attitudes. Some of us unwillingly accept it in our own time and in our own way. And still, some will never accept it and wither down into a path of despair. If you see them, try to encourage them along the way.
Who’s going to want me after they find out, or see, this or that? It’s a valid question. We live in a judgmental, stereotypical beauty, pretend perfect world. We ourselves have been judgmental perhaps. It’s a terrifying question even if you are married. Will they still want you and how will this change the marriage? Not all remain. Even friends dwindle and relationships fade. Insecurities rise and self-esteem tumbles. Imagine not having much of that to begin with and we are looking at developing or increasing anxieties and depression.
Here is the question I ask you, “Do you accept you as you are now?” Maybe you are at the EMPHATICALLY yes stage and maybe you are a definite NO, or somewhere in between. If it’s no or in between then begin the work, yes work of ACCEPTING you as you are. The slow EMBRACE of change, and the ever changing you. Even with my unexpected changes in life, guess what? There will be more. There will be the regular changes of aging and sometimes that happens during the acceptance of the unexpected. A doozey, I know! But acceptance of yourself increases your confidence and helps you brave the fear of the unknown and face the reality. You may not be accepted by someone because of an illness or what you look like now. It may be “too much” for them. Or, you just may be accepted by those that understand and those that can see you for who you truly are or have become.
My journey of acceptance of who I am now was overwhelming. Much like others. However, I am here to tell you that my feet are on solid ground most days. And on the days they are not, I get back up.
43; The It Is Well Within Tour: I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I suppose this is long enough. We often subject ourselves to certain environments unnecessarily when our psyche or spirits scream no. And I get that we have to sometimes. I get that we do it out of obligation and loyalty. You can’t simply blanket “no” or “no more” to everything you don’t want to do. If that were the case, you would not have a career. Dinner would not be made. Etc. But, many times it’s a sometimes too often that drains the life and light out of you. In order for me to live this “It Is Well Within Tour” for 43 it’s some cities I can’t tour in. It’s some tables I can’t sit at. It’s some pews I can’t sit in. I have to value my mind and spirit on this level. It’s self abuse to my mind and spirit. I owe my mind. I owe my spirit. I owe it my truth.
I get up and go to Sunday School because I like to learn and I enjoy being part of the lively discussions. I do not always like the spirit of the one that teaches Sunday School when they teach Sunday School. I am going to put it like this, today was the worst I have ever seen the teacher’s response to a question asked and an idea presented that total went against the “doctrine.” She gave it the old “Don’t question God, the Bible, don’t add or take away from the Word” answer that many religious teachers give when they don’t know the answer or don’t like your “thoughts” on the matter. It got worse and carried on way after Sunday School as the teacher felt she was vindicated by the Pastor. She began to give fake praise and worship. I was nauseous as I often am when she puts on these type of shows.
After sitting there 45 minutes into 11AM service, uncomfortable with all that had occurred, trying to convince myself to stay or else suffer the wrath of God for leaving, I left. (Note, I do get why we think like this. It’s called mind control of the masses and it has worked very well throughout slavery and even now in churches and synagogues for centuries.) This person has a habit of not wanting to be wrong when they are obviously wrong and would rather blame everyone else. It’s madness. Then on the ride home I had to talk myself out of feeling “guilty” about doing what was right for me which was leaving and possibly limiting my Sunday School attendance. When the person saw me leave, they texted me and wanted to know if I could do them a favor. I told the I could not. Afterwards, I went on to take myself out to eat and I am now home resting from an extremely exhausting, but profitable yesterday and an unexpected debt paid today which is also profitable to my well being.