Shift Happens

I’m in no way suicidal, but I contemplated stepping in front of a subway car once. It was about a year ago to the day that I stood at the yellow line of the Sunset Station in Los Angeles and thought, “What the hell am I doing here?” I felt purposeless, and therefore useless and hopeless. What I’ve come to understand now is that hopelessness and extreme discomfort is a sure sign that things are about to change. Crazy right? I find that the more popular topics regarding manifestation and taking hold of the very things we’ve been praying for don’t cover the pain that precedes the reward.
In the past five years, I’ve become a very self-aware woman through much trial and error. To be self-aware is to know oneself and to break it down further, it means to become both the participant and the observer in your own life. You thus begin the process of truly understanding who you are by observing how you respond or react to things; what triggers you. As a natural observer, I’ve learned that doing nothing is as much of a response as taking action. I have trained myself to use my hyper-sensitivity and awareness to my benefit by checking my intentions, identifying and sitting with my emotions, setting boundaries, and applying everything I’ve learned to manifest the life that I desire. Unlike the application, these lessons were easy to learn and they prepared me to see the hard things to come, 2020 for example.
The whole year has been a Wizard of Oz moment; the pandemic, senseless deaths resulting in social unrest, and Trump are all a part of the tornado. We’ve just landed in a strange land where we all celebrate that Trump is no longer in power, but now we have another quest: to get back home (the new normal). All in all, we’re not in Kansas anymore, but there are still issues here. We have a new President-elect, but there are more reports of the virus resurging, police are still abusing their authority, and the energy of the collective conscious is heavy. With the election being over, there is a weight that has been lifted, which frees us to focus on other things, even while some of us aren’t willing to address those other things. Up until a little while ago, I was among the unwilling. I was tired of having nothing to do and the way I’m wired, I get tired from doing nothing so sheltering in place has been hard on me. The more active I am (physical or mental), the more energy I have. To get my energy back, I began running again and started to look into creative remote work, while dreaming about my ideal life. It involves finally acquiring a passport and traveling internationally. Whether I travel alone or with company, I don’t care, I want out! My dream life also includes being wealthy, married with children, a dog, and a well-furnished van behind the house for cross country road trips. This dream has been edited time and time again, but now I feel I am acquiring everything on this list. They weren’t kidding when they said pressure creates diamonds because I’ve felt the pressure of instability and loss and I’m finally seeing the glimmer of perfect manifestation.
I’m here to report that answered prayers can be overwhelming and scary and that’s ok. The key is to feel the pain and fear and progress despite it. I have a high pain tolerance as a former athlete, but my emotional pain tolerance was low. The pressure of being homeless on the streets is a different type of pressure from having to live in a young adult shelter with difficult personalities, and I’m not referring to the shelter patrons. The pressure of living with strangers as roommates is a different type of pressure from living with the family members you dislike. However, nothing beats the pressure of not knowing your purpose, and the day I stood waiting for the train, I felt utterly lost and overwhelmed. This wasn’t the first time I’ve felt this feeling, but it was certainly the first time I pondered calling quits. I didn’t feel hopeful about the future or content with the present. I felt alone, but I want you to know you are not alone.
Looking back from where I sit now, I’m glad I didn’t give up because I’m finally catching glimpses of my purpose and what I want to do in this life. As much as I complain about it, sheltering in place has provided a wealth of time for me to observe my journey to this place of peace, wholeness, and emotional healing. I am not alone. You are not alone. Be sure to check on your friends and family to remind them they’re not alone. We are all collectively working toward the life we want to lead at our own pace, so don’t make comparisons, take notes, make adjustments, and live your best life!

Watch Your Mouth! Self-Care Through Self-Affirmation

We have made it to the fourth quarter of 2020! With only three months of this year to go, many are feeling emotionally and existentially tired. With things running together on what seems like a continuous feedback loop, many may have fallen off their usual self-care routines. The fourth quarter is where games are won and lost but, in the words of Ms. Lauryn Hill, “how you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” Practicing self-care in your usual ways, traveling, going to the gym, attending family events, may not be practical right now. In a climate rife with complaints and murmuring, the easiest way to maintain self-care, and remain in balance, is through the practice of affirmations.

What Is Self-Affirmation?

Self-Affirmation is the process of speaking life into yourself. It is using your own ashe (divine energy) to shape your circumstances and reality around you. It’s not just positive thinking, thought that is part of it. To affirm yourself means to speak life over yourself from a standpoint of truly wanting to see those things come to pass. Affirmations also aren’t wishful thinking either. The affirmation needs to have actionable intention behind it. For example, if you are affirming that you are a top scholar, you have to do more than just declare that over yourself, you have to do the work and study. Words are the starting point, consistency brings it home.

What If I Don’t Believe the Affirmation?

Of course, believing the affirmation makes it all the more powerful, but as Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers remind listeners, sometimes you just have to encourage yourself. You don’t always have to feel in the mood to affirm yourself though generally, it’s when you’re feeling down that you may need it the most. If you are having trouble speaking positively over yourself, there are a few ways to go about shifting that paradigm.

  1. Therapy. For numerous reasons, within the Black community going to therapy is seen as weak or ineffective. There was a meme on social media that stated essentially that many are exhausted from trying to pray their way through things they needed to seek help for. Self-affirmation can be placed in this context as well. Sometimes, you need a licensed professional to help you understand the root causes of self-esteem issues and other troublesome patterns of behavior. Once you’ve dealt with the root, you can then begin to plant a new harvest.
  2. Enlist the Help of Friends/Family. If you don’t feel that you are able to encourage yourself, try and see if you have family or friends who would be willing to offer you words of affirmation on a fairly consistent basis. Some people need to have things externalized before they internalize them. If that is you, get an affirmation buddy and make it reciprocal. You affirm them, they affirm you, and you build one another and by extension communities.
  3. Meditate. Sometimes it may not be that you have an issue believing the affirmations. Your mind may just be too cluttered with the minutiae of life. Take a moment, or several, to ground yourself and align yourself to receive positivity. For more information on meditation and mindfulness, check back in November!

How to Begin Self-Care Through Self-Affirmation

There is no wrong or right way to affirm and care for yourself. But if you are looking for some starting points, here are some suggestions.

  1. Scriptures, Proverbs, and Parables. Regardless of what spiritual system you subscribe to, if you subscribe to one at all, proverbs and parables abound. They also are prevalent outside of a spiritual context. Though many may find organized religion problematic, there are some gems contained in the Bible, Torah, Koran, Odu Ifa, the teachings of Ptahhotep, et al. that can start as the basis of your affirmation list.
  2. Music. Music is powerful with a specific energy. If you need affirmations on the go, try looking for it in music. Some personal recommendations are any album by India.Arie.
  3. What needs to change? Another starting point is by looking at what things need to change, or what things have died in your life. Once you are able to identify these items, you can move forward to speak life into them and build yourself up.
  4. Social Media. Social media is usually seen as harmful to one’s sense of self. However, there are a few accounts that are great at providing affirmations. Two accounts to follow on Instagram are: @thenapministry and @blackselfcaretalk.

Whichever method you choose to begin, the important part is to get started. Start setting your foundation for 2021 now. Happy affirming!