Radical Honesty As A Method of Healing

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Ah — the internet, overrun with so much discussion about self-care. People mention self-care to promote candles, to sell subscription services, and even foods. In a time like this, there are so many things changing and called into question in our country. Self-care, for some, can feel like a selfish, banal activity that should be on the back burner. 

How can we move through life with clarity without self-care? Self-care is not all vision boards and affirmations. Sometimes it is as simple as telling the truth and accepting our lives with radical honesty.

Honesty as a healing practice

Studies have shown that being mindful of being accurate in our narratives can lessen symptoms like headaches and tension in various muscles of the body. Being honest can be challenging for those who may have had an upbringing that fostered or even encouraged hiding your emotions, thoughts, opinions, and motivations from others. Small steps toward radical honesty is a powerful way to change your perspective and feel more empowered.

Overcoming fears

Changing your perspective can be equally as humbling when you have historically been secure in your experience but have had some trauma occur in the last few years when conveying your truth to others. Here are some tips to overcome your fears of practicing radical honesty:

  • Envision the events of your life after telling the truth. Sometimes we can mentally practice our responses if we prepare for the possible outcomes. Many times, real-life events are much less severe than we had imagined.
  • Push the envelope. Begin to tell truths to yourself that might feel a bit uncomfortable, i.e. you do not like your career. When you can accept these facts, you are a bit closer to changing your life. 

You do not have to do anything to change your circumstances until you are ready, and able, to be honest, will keep you safe from others forcing their ideas on you, or you inaccurately selling yourself.

What to expect

Your family, friends, and co-workers will know what to expect from you because now, your emotions, thoughts, and actions are aligned. Over time, you will want to change those circumstances that do not fit what is best for you, or you have made peace with them. 

The Debate Debacle

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Many of us were looking forward to the presidential debates and ended up disgusted, confused, and disappointed in the undignified results. Michelle Obama tweeted her compassion with American voters that might have been unsatisfied with the turn of events.

The average citizen needs to remain mindful of everything happening shortly, because this may be the most critical election in recent history, if not all of American history.

The African American vote

Remember when we talked about barriers to voter turn-out? African American voters are having their mail-in ballots rejected four times more frequently than white voters in NC. Voting officials seemed to have no answer why. These rejected ballots belonged to Black voters that often didn’t know what happened. There was some speculation by the ballot staff that maybe these voters were using the mail-in process for the first time.

Fomentation of xenophobia

One of the most pressing issues facing American society today is the amplified, racially charged social unrest that has occurred during the Trump Administration. While Donald Trump likens himself to Abraham Lincoln in terms of striving for the concerns of Black Americans, he routinely refused to address these issues during the debates.

When asked why Trump removed racial sensitivity training from public services, he answered, “We were teaching them to hate the country.” It is unclear how training individuals concerning interactions involving approximately 15% of the population equates to the hatred of the other 85%.

Nationalism: ‘Our country, our values’

As he sidestepped racial inequality, he continued to blame China for “starting” COVID-19 and appeal to the banalest of American values, as if its citizens were cartoons.

“I brought back football,” Trump argued.

While he was patting himself on the back for bringing back football, Trump took no accountability of lost lives during COVID-19, stating that it could have been worse if he had implemented guidelines proposed by the Democratic Party and “shut the country down.” It never seemed to occur to him that the shutdown was because of a national health emergency affecting all American citizens.

Poor taste

Aside from repeatedly talking over the moderator, the aggressive accusations, and interrupting his opponent, Donald Trump admitted that he took advantage of tax loopholes on national television, blaming it on the Obama administration.

Does Donald Trump care if he wins the debate? He certainly was sure that he was going to be the incumbent come January. Many of his original voters are now undecided in this election. Because of this, the debate was a critical moment during the process. How long can Trump steamroll over others before he runs out of steam?

Protect Your Heart and Relationships

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COVID-19 is often deadly because of pre-existing conditions that suppress the immune system. One of these is heart disease. While a poor diet and a lack of exercise can contribute to a weak heart, dysfunctional relationships can do so, as well.

Here are several examples of this: a significant other that always offers you a cake when you are trying to lose weight, and does not accept your answer, or individuals that have specific thoughts and feelings about events that have happened in their lives, but project those emotions onto you. Individuals that routinely dismiss your wants, needs, and ambitions and “friends” that may actively sabotage your efforts to improve yourself or your life may need closer examination.

“But it is not that bad.” 

We try to tell ourselves that we can handle what life gives us, and that is a great way to maintain motivation. But what are the outcomes of constant interactions with those who put you down? Are they maybe otherwise challenging to be around? You may experience:

  • Lack of trust
  • Hopelessness
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Trouble sleeping or eating
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling distracted
  • Self-sabotage
  • Difficulty accomplishing tasks
  • Physical illness or discomforts like teeth grinding, eczema flare-ups, etc.

This list is not exhaustive, but as you can see, not setting and defending firm boundaries in your relationships can create havoc in your life if left unaddressed.

How can you tell if you don’t “gel” with someone?

Some people, like family, are not very easy to avoid sometimes. In cases like these, it may be helpful to keep your contacts with them as restricted as possible. Strangers on the street can sometimes be easier to deal with — but always use your discretion. When in conversation, do your best not to overshare. Do not become too invested in the outcomes of your exchange with this person. Keep in mind that you define your happiness.

Transforming your relationships

Attempt to cultivate radical honesty about what you think and feel. Physical sensations may manifest as a way to let you know what your emotions are if you can not seem to name them. Stop to notice and accept them without judgment. Gently but firmly share with others how you feel, and state that you would like for your boundaries to be respected. Some people you may come across have no idea about how you are receiving them. Others you may have to, unfortunately, let go. 

Breonna Taylor and The Blue Wall of Silence

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All over the country, in cities like Louisville and New York, there have been mass protests regarding the decision to charge one cop involved with the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Many Americans were shocked to learn the charges were for “wanton endangerment,” and not of Taylor’s, or her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker’s life, but the lives of three people next door. 

Strengthening Misperceptions

While no one’s life should have been in danger, this case raises many questions. No one can deny the reluctance by high ranking officials such as the police commissioner of many cities to discipline law enforcement when the protocol is not followed, with people losing their lives as a result. Although honest, professional law enforcement abound, decisions like this strengthen the public perception that there is an impenetrable blue wall of silence.

Unfair Justice

In other words, if there were three cops involved in the shooting, why is only one cop being charged, and not even in connection to the actual crime? Why is only one official being charged with endangerment, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, while Breonna Taylor’s family grieves her absence permanently? The uproar caused by such charges asks the question: why is it so difficult to maintain clarity during times like this? 

Understanding the players

The coming weeks ahead will continue to flare up with protests and retaliation from both sides. Constructive dissent is crucial, but we also have to continue to fight with our votes on a local level, as well. We have to know who our district attorneys, police commissioners, mayors, and district representatives are, and take an active role in not only choosing them but also holding them accountable for their decisions. 

The Link Between Dehydration and Insomnia

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Sleeping, the kind that produces dreams, provides full refreshment and mental clarity in your waking life. Western culture is one that applauds non-stop productivity, so we often hear our family, friends, or co-workers explain that they have only slept in 8 hours in three days without much backlash. Black Americans are the second highest-rated group concerning sleep deprivation, and while we deserve applause for our strength and efficacy, we also should be going to sleep.

Still, because sleep is affected by our circadian rhythms and helps to reduce inflammation in the body, a lack of sleep correlates with more painful menstrual cycles and more difficult deliveries when pregnant. But here is one of the main blockers we often face when trying to get enough sleep: we’re dehydrated. 

Getting more water

According to the Sleep Foundation, being just somewhat dehydrated is enough to make it tough to go to sleep. Consuming water-rich foods and drinking plenty of water and low sugar beverages is a simple way to get enough water into your system and help your body get enough sleep and experience menses less painfully.

For those of us that are perimenopausal or in menopause, lower levels of estrogen can lead to dehydration. Higher water consumption assists with cooling night sweats and hot flashes if you get them, which can mean calmer days and better sleep.  

Working on getting better sleep

Another reason to improve your sleep consumption is to have a better awareness of when something is wrong. Conditions like fibroids cause exhaustion, but if you are already sleep-deprived, you may not notice them until they cause heavy bleeding or abdominal distention.

Herbs that promote sleepiness are:

Valerian

Chamomile

Ashwagandha

You can make a tea out of these herbs and consume near bedtime.

Some of us may wonder: who has time to go to sleep? How can I feel relaxed enough to go to sleep? These questions, and more, are why it is so important to go to sleep — so many of us think that drinking water and resting well are luxuries, but our bodies may be saying something different. Your habits will not change overnight, but every little bit helps.

The Healing Power of Dandelion

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This article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The author does not intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Black women are more likely than other groups to experience fibroids and other reproductive issues, and some of the reasons why is because of the stress of racism, colorism, sexism, and other “isms” that color the unique experience of Black women. Many of the physical ailments that all people face often start in the mind, due to stress. This stress can be caused by negative factors, like figuring out how to pay rent after a layoff, or by what is called eustress, which is caused by positive events, like your wedding day.

Still, after you have decided the ways in which you are going to become more active in the political process so that your values are heard, you have gone to the therapist or found alternative therapies to process your traumas, and you have decided which things are worth fretting over and which things are not as worthy — you can rely on herbs to help you address the reproductive physical symptoms you may experience.

Exploring what’s in your backyard

Dandelion is often treated as a weed; it grows everywhere and it is a hardy plant. These features make dandelion affordable and easy to use at a moment’s notice. The leaves can be cleaned and included in your salad or cut up and sauteed with butter or some other oil with seasoning. Its roots can be boiled and made into a cleansing tea that helps support your liver. The flowers are aesthetically pleasing and also can be used for tea.

Despite it’s sharp, bitter taste, dandelion is quite healing. It supports better liver functioning, helps with bloating, and as a diuretic herb, it allows the body to release any extra water through the urine. Your body may produce less gas. After a few days of using dandelion, you may find that the quality of your skin may have also improved.

But what does this have to with fibroids, endometriosis, and other concerns? Reduced bloating and gas means less menstrual pain, and better liver functioning means that your hormones will be more likely to be in balance. Many of the reproductive conditions that women face today are caused by an imbalance of hormones. There may be too much estrogen or progesterone, depending on the ailment.

Experimenting with dandelion tea may be your first step in regaining control of your hormones. Good luck!

Changing Our Thought Patterns to Help with Social Change

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What if I told you that there was an unprovoked shooting on a group of Black people in Clinton, Mississippi, today?

Would you be upset, desensitized? Would you ask more questions, attempting to find the silver lining in the situation?

This event occurred on September 4, 1875 — after the slaves were supposedly emancipated, and ten years after the American Civil War.

And yet, headlines like this continue to dominate our media today, because sadly, it is still such a prominent phenomenon.

Reversing the insanity in our communities

It is possible to do the same thing over and over again and get different results.

But how?

You have been at your workplace, at the organization, doing your chosen skill for a while now, and you still do not seem to get the results you want.

A simple way to affect the narrative is to change the things you are doing. Once. When you find that your circumstances have shifted, continue to do that new change from now on.

This technique is a way you can do something over and over again and get different results — embrace change, but be patient enough to persevere. You do not need to announce your change. The outcome will speak for itself.

Fighting against evolving perspectives

Many citizens in American society are stuck in some negative psychological feedback loop where a traumatic event or many occurrences begin to color one’s worldview and decision making overall.

While this is part of normal neural development and in some cases protective — it facilitates learning about the world and its dangers through a process that researchers call heuristics — it can hinder personal growth a person does not consider other facts.  

This process is part of what fosters racism, classism, and whatever “ism” there is out there.

Changing the changes around you

Because of these “isms,” is critical to do several things:

Understand that you are the author of your own story. While you may not pick where you are born, the class you are, sex, parents, or anything else external to you, it is up to you to remain lucid enough to shape and tell your own story, with your words, in your way.

Stop and think before you agree to anything. What are the effects of the agreement? Sometimes we align ourselves with causes, people, and places that do not have our best interests at heart.

Do not get stuck in presentism. Presentism is the idea or behavior of assuming that historical or future events will be, can be, or have been affected by the present. An example of this is the assumption that people had cellular phones widely accessible to them in 1994, or that TikTok is going to be very important in 2030.

Maintaining Our Stories As We Fight Injustice

Every day is an opportunity to make history — and to study it. Human existence is cyclical, and it is important as we move forward that we are aware of the behaviors we have and that of those around us. Jacob Blake’s 2020 shooting will undoubtedly be reported in detail in the news media, with the usual public personalities weighing in on what has happened.

Changing representation

Let’s look at the past for a second. Whydah was a major slave port in the kingdom of Benin, as well as the namesake of the pirate ship Whydah Galley.

According to one European, who visited in 1692–1700, Whydah exported some thousand slaves a month, mainly taken captive from villages in the interior of Africa. According to records, ten traders would round up 100 or more slaves at a time as cargo.

Currently, the Whydah is a museum found in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The site focuses more on pirate history than its deep involvement in the African Holocaust.

While it is commendable that it is a museum at all given this country’s history with maintaining African artifacts and narratives, the glaring absence of narratives concerning the slaves and their families, save for a few, is a concern.

Truthful, consistent media

In the present day, the officer who shot Blake, the city in which the incident occurred, and other specifics have all been named. For the next few weeks, pundits and politicians will offer their take, and citizens will righteously and angrily protest what happened that fateful day.

What happens in the future? Contrarians may begin their common refrain: he shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Why did he take this course of action or that?

Some time may elapse, intersecting the relationship between truth and sanity — alternative theories arise, and discussions about minutiae begin to blur the lines of honest conversation. Because so few answers are provided for each incident of horrendous police brutality, every report is met with hysteria, instead of sobriety and solutions.

After the hysteria has died down, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be manipulated and told that we were just imagining things; it really wasn’t that bad, and we believe the wrong information. It is here where an alternative timeline of events is introduced, and we begin to think that maybe we were crazy, after all.

Owning our story

It is as critical to bringing swift action to injustice as it is to be outraged about it. Brainstorming actionable steps and then working them also brings radical change. We have to tell our own stories and represent ourselves, for ourselves.

Five Traits That Interfere with Social Awareness

As voters get ready to approach the booths this November, concerns ranging from healthcare to education to government fiscal responsibility will be on voters’ minds. With a historic election on the horizon, it is critical to remain level-headed as everyone casts their ballot. Still, there are five traits that could potentially hold citizens back from getting a wonderful government and the most out of their relationships with others.

Moderation 

This is a strategy that some individuals use to “moderate” or control social interaction. It includes censorship, defining others’ experiences for them without their permission or not accepting their narratives, and telling those you interact with that they are not allowed to choose the method and the regularity with which they communicate their concerns. Moderation is great when deployed during a roundtable discussion or some other formal circumstance to which all parties agree, but can tread dangerous territory when it harms instead of help.

Solipsism 

Solipsism is defined is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing.

The problem with solipsism is that it rarely, if ever, leaves room for new ideas and other perspectives. If one thinks their experience is the only one to be had, then it is hard to respond to social issues in a responsible manner. One of the most common results of solipsism is an inability to reach an agreement with others, resulting in a tug-of-war.

Definition

In this case, definition is the act of defining others’ identities, rights, concerns, needs, wants, and narratives on their behalf, particularly when they have not asked for assistance. It is important to hold authentic space for every voice — by due process and due diligence.

Fear

Most, if not all of these habits come from fear. Fear can manifest as the inability to introspect and see how alienating certain behaviors can be, making choices from an impoverished mindset, and questioning rights granted to deserving, otherwise unprotected groups. Fear foments hate organizations, dismantles critical thinking, and drives a wedge between factions that would otherwise interface with each other.

Intellectual laziness

In the 1970s, 60% of 12th graders read a book or a magazine every day — in 2016, the statistic was only 2%. Asking questions, reading, listening — these are all tools in your arsenal against being fearful and dogmatic. Even if you do not agree with the subject discussed, learning about other opinions and facts can help you refine your stance on certain topics. Examine your cognitive biases and steer clear of logical fallacies when listening to or making your arguments. 

Resources for Survivors of Sexual Assault

You’re on the other side, now what? Methods of healing sexual trauma can include art, music, spoken word, or any other creative outlet. You may already have creative training — but if you do not, don’t fret. Some resources may be free or low cost to get started.

Create your own space

If you can not find a venue that allows you to share your creative gifts in the world, you can create your own website or start a YouTube channel for free. Creating your own website gives you the freedom to speak frankly about the issues important to you without being censored by a third party, a la Facebook.

Talk therapy

If you can afford talk therapy and would like to try it, give it a go! Psychotherapy can be highly transformative when approached thoughtfully and consistently. One thing to keep in mind when searching for a therapist is seeking someone who is familiar with or empathetic to your unique story while challenging your thought patterns with compassion. 

Some questions to think about are:

  • Does this therapist have extensive experience with sexual assault survivors?
  • How spiritually inclined is this therapist? What are some ideological deal breakers for me?
  • Does he or she start appointments on time and engage, or are they simply “phoning it in?”
  • How comfortable am I with taking psychotropic medication, if recommended?
  • Do I feel centered and connected to the work, or do I feel misunderstood?

Books as refuge

Perhaps you are gifted with words or like to doodle. A composition book or a Moleskine may be the tool you need to unlock your deeply hidden emotions. Some creatives report that the movement in their wrists helps them not focus on the pain. 

Readers have plenty of books to choose from as they sort their feelings out. Here is a small list of books to get you started.

Things We Haven’t Said: Sexual Survivors Speak Out, edited by Erin Moulton

The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole by Dr. Arielle Schwartz

How to be Safe in An Unsafe World by Dr. Harold Bloomfield and Dr. Robert Cooper

The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk

A great podcast to listen to while you clean or drive:

The Left Ear, with Dakota Johnson

This Happened, by a survivor

Honor yourself at all times

Go to therapy at whatever price point you can afford. Get your pain out. You deserve to heal from your sexual assault.