5 Activities That Can Help Us Reconnect With Our Inner Child

Photo by Micah. H on Unsplash

I have found that many clients are either unaware of the little child that exists within them or feel alone in their belief of the existence of the little kid within them. So, to be very clear: We all have a little child within us. No one is exempt from this rule. We may grow up and become distanced from our little ones but they exist within us daily. Oftentimes, if we are unaware of them, they have probably been in control of us and our lives for some time. Growing up makes us aware of our own judgments, the judgments of others, and we become bogged down by responsibilities that add to our fears and judgments. For many of us, this dims our ability to view and connect with the little child inside.

But we can change this. We can reconnect with our inner kids and even heal them. In turn, this can help us heal our present selves. As we learn about the traumas and pains that we experienced as children, we can see how these themes and lessons have influenced our lives – both consciously and unconsciously – and we can learn to make changes to our lives that help us to live more fulfilling and rewarding lives.

Lessons:

1.     Laugh more. Laughter is good for all of us. It improves our immune systems, floods our bodies with endorphins, relieves stress, and reduces tension in our bodies. If we are laughing, we are in the moment and present in our environments, rather than stressing about the past or the future. It means that we are spending time experiencing emotions and for that moment, we might even experience freedom. As kids, we laugh freely and experience the emotions that come with laughter. However, to be able experience the freedom of laughter in adulthood, we must be able to let go of judgment and shame. ...

Continue Reading

3 Lessons on Black Love

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

I first became familiar with the ‘black love’ term when the Obamas became the first family of the US. I didn’t fully understand the need to have a specific term to describe a black couple. The Obamas and the Carters have become the gold standard of black relationships in the US. Maybe that’s because of the preoccupation with social media and the need to find role models that we can identify with.  This creates a certain amount of pressure to adhere to a society-approved relationship model as well as completely undermining those relationships that exists outside of the spotlight and have managed to thrive.

Lessons Learned about Black Love

1)     I’ve heard my friends say that once we reach our 30s, finding a black man who doesn’t have a child is basically unheard of.  Does this mean that we will then have to settle because that’s what’s available? If that’s the case, in what other ways do we settle in our relationships? For me, I have found that I dumbed myself down because I found that the previous men I had dated were not always on my level intellectually and/or emotionally. So, I wonder how many other women have done this and how often? TLC sang that they required plenty conversation with their sex, a practice which I subscribe to.

2)     Black women seemed to have lowered our standards for our relationships. Why is this necessary? Should we not expect our black men to be better for us because we are worth it? Every day, I see black men walking around with their underpants hanging out of their pants and I can’t understand how as women we have accepted this? I appreciate some swag but is there no limit to what we will accept? And this is just one area where I question our standards. What are our boundaries for our relationships and partners? I’ve learnt that setting boundaries and standards will allow my relationships to flourish. I struggle with effective boundaries as does everyone. But we must be willing to consider the other partner’s personal space, feelings, and needs. This is, of course, not always easy. But to have healthy relationships, we must learn to be mindful of these things. ...

Continue Reading

Black Women: Why We Need Sisterhood

In college, I learnt who I could be. I have had sisters all my life, but I had never experienced sisterhood. My first day of classes, I think in my first class too, I met her. Krystal Jackson is the sister I never had. I learnt the differences between sisters and sisterhood.

I learnt that I could step outside of my comfort zone. I began to learn to redefine friendship and relationships. I learnt that friendship is a relationship. A lesson that many people still do not understand. I began to evaluate the friendships in my life. As time went on, I realized I started cutting people out because we no longer had similar interests or values, and frankly because for some, I no longer needed to hold on to them. I think that’s another issue we experience. We have friendships or other relationships that have served us but we can’t let go when it’s time to move on. I learnt that relationships have a role. They are either moving you forward or moving you backward. They do not standstill. I became a woman in my friendship with Krystal. True sisterhood challenges you, protects you, gives you space to grow, mirrors yourself back to you, helps you to build character, and teaches you how to love and support unselfishly. We learn that we can succeed together through honest communication. This is not to say, it’s not difficult, because of course it is extremely uncomfortable and can hurt sometimes, but when you experience the joys that comes after, you rest assured knowing that you are becoming the woman that you want to be. ...

Continue Reading

On Being a Black Woman

I’d like to say that I always liked being black, but I’d be lying. I’d like to say that I always liked being dark-skinned but I’d be lying.

I’ve just started writing this piece and my fingers are already unsteady. I’ve always lived in my head; played stories out there, held long deep conversations with myself when I struggled to find someone to connect with, and wrote long beautiful poems there. I’ve been the dark-skinned oddball in the family for so long, I don’t know how to be anything else. It took a very long time – 20 years – to start to embrace my complexion. I’d also always known that I was black, but until living in the US, I really didn’t know that I was black.

I was the youngest of 5 kids, and 1 of 3 girls. I have the darkest-skin complexion of all 5 kids. I was reminded of this daily growing up; whether by familial jokes or by people on the street. I quickly learnt that skin complexion was of the utmost importance within my culture. My older sister was light-complected and was just viewed as beautiful everywhere she went. My middle sister was more caramel-complected and got close to the same responses. But me, I was told that I was too dark and when I was ready to have kids, I should be sure to find a light-complected man to improve my children’s color. Then, I was also told that I should never wear lipstick because my lips were too thick.

As a child, I did not understand the erosion that was happening to my self-esteem, starting with my own family, and extending to people that I met that felt the need to offer their opinions without being asked. By the time I was a teenager, I realized that I was subconsciously choosing partners who were light-skinned even though I found myself more attracted to dark-skinned boys. I wrote a post earlier advising that mental health in the African and Caribbean culture is nuanced because of the historical traumas we have suffered. Any person of color knows that we are not just viewed as black, we are viewed by people in our communities based on our skin-tone. We have only to listen to dancehall/reggae, soca, and hip-hop music to be reminded of this daily. I was so conditioned to look at skin color that when Destiny’s Child first came out (they were the first poster I hung on my wall), I immediately looked for the darkest-skinned girl in the group which then began my love affair with Kelly Rowland. To finally see a successful dark-skinned girl on TV changed my life. ...

Continue Reading

Is There a Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness?

Picture courtesy of Planoly.com

Lately, it seems like mental health and mental illness have become synonymous. To clarify, everyone has mental health, everyone does not have a mental illness or disorder. Society possesses many stigmas regarding mental health. These stigmas are perpetuated by fear of the unknown (mental health being the unknown variable), fear of mental disorders and illnesses being contagious, fear of ostracism, and fear of being different. The truth is that we now live in an information age; there is so much information at the touch of a button, that living in ignorance is no longer an excuse. We all know someone who has been touched by a mental health condition; that is, if we, ourselves, have not experienced our own mental health condition at some point.

Mental Health

Mental health is no different than physical health. They are both affected by many of the same factors, including biology, environment, and access to healthcare. We all should be working to achieve optimal health, which is inclusive of mental health. To achieve a healthy well-being, we must address our physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Within our lifetimes, we will face many issues, simply because that is the way life is setup. These issues can vary in their intensity and they can run along a continuum. These issues may include marriage, divorce, birth, death, health scares, weather displacements, and career transitions. They will all affect us in different ways but will affect each of the five categories of our well-being. ...

Continue Reading

3 Reasons Why Both Mental Health & Physical Health Matters

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

The sad truth is even today as society slowly becomes more accepting of mental health and mental illness (yes, they are different), mental health is still viewed as inferior and less important than physical health. Oftentimes, mental illness is viewed as acceptable when the media labels certain individuals with severe mental disorders or when mental illness is joked about or misrepresented. Many times, the symptoms of mental illnesses are severely exaggerated which can further serve to perpetuate the stigmas associated with mental illness. Stigmas serve to create distance and embed a ‘them and us’ belief and attitude. However, the plain truth is that most of us know at least one person who has suffered from mental illness.

Focusing on stigmas to devalue mental health strengthens the views that only physical health matters. Physical health is, of course, important. Physical health is affected by lifestyle, biology, environment, socio-economic status, and access to healthcare services. Having an optimally functioning body affords us many luxuries; things, we take for granted sometimes, like walking, seeing, dancing, exercising and movement, access to healthcare, access to necessary medications, and access to food, especially healthy food.

But, the thing we overlook is that physical health and mental health are not exclusive of each other.  A common example is stress eating. Stress eating is a coping mechanism that is used by many people. Continuous stress eating decreases physical health by increasing blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and a host of other physical issues. However, stress eating also has mental health components as this coping mechanism can be viewed as avoidance of dealing with emotions and stressors, and this contributes to poor mental health as emotion regulation decreases, negative emotions may increase after the emotional eating has passed, and this may also contribute to the development of mental illnesses, such as eating disorders. ...

Continue Reading