Remain conscious of your BUT

I vividly recall my session. It was day 3 after I found my new counselor. The person I had looked for when I began calling a list of individual & family therapists who would meet my standards was exciting, overwhelming, scary, promising, yet fearful.

Fear_Male
Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

She knew I’d be a handful when I initially called her, outlining exactly what I needed for my emotional-mental therapy! “Are you African American; are you older than 50 and are you credentialed in family therapy?” were the questions asked of her. “Yes, I am, but why?” I continued to explain that my personal issues directly stem from systemic patterns in the black community that negatively impacts relationships I have with loved ones, inadvertently affecting friendships.

I had reached a point of lethargy! The intersection of what to do + where to go was too confusing for me to navigate. After all these years I had finally run out of tools and resources on this solo ride to self-healing. A plateau. I needed professional, clinical intervention but not at the hands of a novice.

Mental Health Therapy
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

She needed to know the depth of my hurt and wounds without being coached. I had to have someone who could not only relate, but look me eye-to-eye and break through my guarded heart and passive-agressive assertions to see my bullshit. This professional had to also be a ‘she’ because I know that effective empathy + combined wit + careful delivery would give me a safe space to talk. This was vitally important because I am particularly known to shut off emotions and recoil when I feel attacked – a place where only my dad understands.

“At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. … After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.”   Diane Halpern, PhD

Dr. King is and has been my safe haven. Her teachings, techniques, discernment, communication style, presence, aura, spirit, strategies, methodology and various specialities have traveled a 35+ year journey from the academia, turned clinical sector with awe-inspiring accolades. When she told me that I needed to hear the BUT behind every explanation I knew there was an incredible breakthrough on my end. Not only did I hear her explain the importance of why, I also understand how effective communication is discounted when we are unable to remove our BUT from conversations!

Think outside box
Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

About a month ago Dr. King said to me, and I paraphrase: “Felita, listening to the BUT when a person is explaining themselves will allow you to visualize, listen, have access to, witness and perceive their mindset about a subject issue, which will give you both an opportunity to clear up and potentially resolve any misunderstandings you would never know otherwise.”  This was the best advice I had received in a while, as it reminds me of instruction I received years ago about my writing, which is ‘the best way to notice your errors in writing is to read your sentences backwards because the pace is slower in the backwards direction.’

Today, removing the BUT allows me to sit in the present; to hear and stand witness to a person’s heart amidst their explanation of what they believe they’ve heard about our conversation that may be confusing to them. I remember removing my teenager’s rights to use her bathroom until she was tidy enough to maintain her own, and while she began to explain her point of view – I interrupted her at “BUT, mommy” — I later learned that she needed to know more about the why. We concluded that our definitions of tidy differed, and my inferences were confusing instead of helpful.

Thank you Dr. King for inspiring and teaching me to become a better me! The words that follow ‘BUT’ will be heard before I speak further; I will also commit with a thoughtful mindset. I promise to remain conscious of my ‘BUT’ so that others may also heal because words unheard are feelings unexplained. The takeaway – communication should be fluid, unambiguous, simple, sincere, gentle, kind and delivered with empathy. I get it — we all fall short, however, speaking in our present state will allow us to exercise care and attention for a created platform that is safe for all to share a seat at the table.

 

 

 

 

Ridding Yourself of Clutter

I recently read Oprah Winfrey’s book, titled “What I Know For Sure” at the recommendation of a dear friend, my daughter’s Papa. Our conversation initially began with the normal chats about co-parenting but ended with a discussion about great books I can read, and he suggested this one along with a few others. As I combed through each page, highlighting what resonated most, I further shared excerpts with friends and posted some on Facebook that were both inspiring and thought provoking. The takeaway: to make conscious decisions about why I shop for what I do when, where and how often.

Now notice how each bold word usually leads to a thoughtful response because they are used in open-ended questions; however, I could not find a satisfying answer to justify my actions – a rude reality, particularly because this is my last year in the 40s club.

I hope the way you spend your money is in line with the truth of who you are and what you care about.”

– Oprah Winfrey

I call this blog ‘Ridding Yourself of Clutter’ because I have firsthand knowledge of how accumulating items on a regular is like hitting the cruise control in your car without sensing your speed, i.e. you buy because you have the power to do so; you have the money to spend; you are replacing a personal emotion you can’t quite kick or you are following the Jones’ and must remain in the game. Whatever your reasons – they are your reasons because I have my own. However, I am challenging you to buy with a conscious mind that has purpose. No, you don’t have to do anything … nor am I suggesting, but I’d like to energize you to adapt to something different that can bring spiritual awareness and personal satisfaction.

DeClutter_totes

Buy plants (see image below), rearrange your bedroom, practice yoga, watch less TV, read more, walk around the block, take a drive up the mountains and the list continues. If you’re wondering how reducing one’s buying habit relates to the list of things you can do in its place I’d like to explain the tradeoff. When you turn off the cruise control in your car you then begin to feel the speed at which you are traveling that directly correlates with awareness practices, such as the ones described. Above is an image of what happened when I turned off my cruise control, as I continue to sort through what to keep and what to sell.

Plants_Lights_Mood enhancement

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather boost my mood, add life to my sterile office space at home – especially during these times, brighten up my day with a little outside inside my home (e.g. plants are living organisms) and increase my concentration, which are all believed benefits of having a plant. So, kudos to Oprah Winfrey when she wrote “When you define yourself by the things you can acquire rather than see what you really need to be happy and fulfilled, you’re not just living beyond your means or overextending yourself. You’re living a lie.”

Decluttered home_couch

So to you, the reader, come join me on this pursuit to simplicity. It may be challenging at the start but you need only be willing because the first step will take you forward when you begin to realize the calming benefits of Ridding Yourself of Clutter. Above is a couch that sits in my bedroom and confronts me to commit to wellness each day before I begin my work.

Until next time be kind to yourself and be safe, keep and stay well…

 

Never Claim a Cardiac Arrest in place of a Heart Attack

So often we treat the experiences of our severed relationships like a ‘cardiac arrest’ when the result is a heart attack – neither of which we want. Remember your heart hasn’t stopped (cardiac arrest)! It is the attack on your emotions that need acute care and proper healing.

No Cardiac Arrest Here!We must take time to make time like we can take time to treat, both of which may require a paradigm shift in our inner circles. And although this self-investment may appear too daunting of a task, the days that turn into weeks and months forward will have you wishing you did the inner work beforehand. Now some may say the fault belongs to someone else because of child-rearing circumstances or mental health reasons, which may weigh heavily on the side of accuracy. However, in the HERE and NOW of where we are today, the onus and accountability rest with us and our capability to acknowledge, seek, ask and submit for improvement.

Besides, your relationship with self is where the focus should shift because “If you are holding anyone else accountable for your happiness you’re wasting your time,” quotes Oprah Winfrey.  –What I know For Sure

I digress with this: We must sow a personal seed for inner growth.

No Favorite Person, Just Selected Conversations

A life of age-appropriate events ended way too early for me. When I parent my daughter, while reflecting on my own life, I realize the things once shared with me when I was her age are way too mature for her to process in her tween years. But then I realize questions she asks are warranted to validate certain behaviors about why me and her grandmother aren’t as close as she and I. It’s one of the hardest things I do as a parent, aside from explaining what good can become of severed affairs like the one between me and her father.

Glamour_MommyButterfly

If, in my younger years, I had a glimpse of how my future looked without an involved father I would have made a conscious effort to communicate my misgivings to mom about their divorce in hopes of some change. I further wish the time I spent keeping silent and finding support elsewhere was instead spent with my dad, sharing my most fearful thoughts about when I grew too close to men without suitable preparation. I regularly tell my tween that students learn from teachers they connect with. The same is also true about customers who buy from salespeople they like.

Likewise, you wouldn’t talk negative about your work to your boss and risk being fired, but rather speak with your close friend who can help you manage your emotions on the job. Hence, children and adults aren’t any different! My most intimate thoughts, as a child and now as an adult, are shared with people I trust[ed] with my emotions. I’d like to think I am not alone in this belief. Yet there are potential disturbances when you are closer to one parent than the other, particularly when your parents have moved on with their separate lives.

I’ve heard and am witness to the pathological cycle you can become a part of if old baggage isn’t handled in a timely manner. I am further convinced there is delicate balance I must keep between both parents, limiting my conversations with each about what the other one is doing. This is currently being practiced between me and my father but the to-do list is partly unaddressed with mother who is beginning to understand. So, what does this reveal, if anything? I don’t pretend to know, but I suspect the answers are more than surface deep. Breakups are handled differently between men and women, chiefly if there is no closure after a breakup.

An article I read the other day asserts that sex is 90% emotional and 10% physical for women. If accurate, this finding tells us two main things about females, i.e. we feel mostly everything, and we are overly troubled and mainly unhappy if we cannot fully express our senses with transparency to our mate. Therefore, if an emotional seed is interrupted and complete closure is never received, we can grow uneasy, overwhelmed and inundated about how to handle our anxieties, which could thereby lead to frustration or resentment, at worst.

Intimacy

I know this mindset all too well because when my emotions were mishandled at a young age I later grew guarded and defensive towards males. Consequently, my inability to cope with hardships led to many years of angst and regrets that continues to affect me and my loved ones today. It’s called “Sharing My Personal Scar!” I regularly reference “Sharing My Personal Scar” because the voice to the story saved me from self-hate, self-infliction, self-judgment and psychological warfare. Moreover, the negative energy and shame I once harbored are no longer because I realize my teen mind was manipulated by careless-adult men with a single agenda. However, going forward I am willing to love, give love and receive it when the occasion is mutual.

Now entering this ‘single-woman journey,’ I give more credence to whom I share my heart and mind. Questions like ‘has he earned an opportunity of total trust; does he understand the importance of contingencies; is his patience short-lived and the list continues?’ are important so that I may forecast my emotional investment. So in the context of No Favorite Person, Just Selected Conversations – the heart must feel safe for love to be expressed, exchanged and reciprocated. Otherwise the union or setting will resemble an exchange of thoughts for personal gain with an abrupt outcome.

Cold conversations

 

 

 

 

These 3 Words…

mom_daughter_at oddsGood Morning! I. Love. You.

These three words are often exchanged on the phone between me and my dear father. As he rises each morning I am certain that he keeps me in prayer, as he has done for many years. This is a practice I also reciprocate! Hence, God tapped me on the shoulder one day and whispered that I should text him more often to share this same greeting; but, my mother also needs to hear I.Love.You more often because she is the person I have emotionally missed for many years because of our differences and our inability to communicate with each other.

Additionally, my close friend, turned fiance who has three sons and one daughter, once told me that a little girl’s first love is her dad. This statement is so accurate, as I am told to be my father’s female version. In contrast, the same cannot be said, or isn’t regularly voiced when speaking about the relationship a daughter has with her mother. Ahem. With that said, I do speak of my mother with similar endearment because she was, and still remains my first role model, although communicating this to her is so challenging – most of my time is spent defending myself from her unconscious belief of my taking advantage of her guarded heart.

So, until she believes otherwise, I will continue to write with hopes of meeting her there! If she only knew! One day, though … One day.

Cuts and Bruises (Covert Injury)

Written as a Facebook Note, June 6, 2013.

I heard her once say that she could not afford to leave because it felt so right. And then I begged the question “What is so right” about a situation already gone wrong? She explained ..

I have a place to stay. I don’t want for anything. I receive personal appeasements on a regular. Our arguments are few and far between. He treats me great at times, although I am one of many others. We’ve dated for quite a while, so starting over may be difficult. I am completely in love, and he knows this.”

Image result for tolerance of disrespect

My response: “My friend, you have a lot going on. Although I am not one to give advice, I will say that we all have a threshold of tolerance. And until you meet that intuitive feeling that tells you ‘You cannot continue on the path of self-unworthiness, poor-self esteem, and self-blame,’ you will continue to get what you have always received (and rightly so) – nothing.”

 

Your turn. Art & Beauty of Vulnerability

If you have not heard of Dr. Brené Brown, let this be a formal introduction to her work.

This article is about how our ‘messy flesh’ is worthy of embracing. If you have followed my previous posts, there is one specifically that hits a home run with vulnerability where I aired all of my personal laundry for public consumption, realizing that how I may be viewed and perceived by others could completely change the way you see me today thereby altering the relationships I have with each person who perceives me as having it altogether. Writing that single post was my complete moment of vulnerability because after its release I felt free of bondage and that dark cloud of 30 years was lifted.

As I wrote about that painstaking article, titled Sharing my Personal Scar, God held my hand through every keystroke, wiped my tears through each memory, whispered in my ear that all would be okay and shook me back to reality, assuring me that He forgives me regardless. I had to write about my younger years to release myself from the hurt and pain that I held for way too long – so long that I was threatened by a few who would go public about my intimate experience. Hence, I was fearful not so much that the story would be narrated by another, but more so because I knew of its accuracy of events and the emotions were mine to release – no one else’s.

Image result for act of vulnerability, brene brownSo back to Dr. Brené Brown, who is a scholar, researcher, author, public speaker and eloquent researcher of story-telling, among many titles – the core of her principles are hinted at letting go of what may hold us back so that we can ultimately be loved and accepted for who we really are and can be, beyond our masked self. So what does that mean? Let me put this in context. In my younger years I so wanted to be accepted by others that I would go along to get along because I feared that I would lose friends if I didn’t conform. Candidly, complying to fit in was not the issue at all nor did anyone demand as such; yet, in hindsight, I was reserved to reveal my true self: flawed, oddly different, insecure, immature, inexperienced and the list continues that hanging with friends who were anything but would exclude me from the crowd.

Conversely, it’s been nearly 11 months now since I published that article and today I couldn’t be happier in my skin because all of my skeletons are out in the open for anyone to see. My message? If I, who was undeserving of forgiveness (i.e. a thought I convinced myself of for many years), yet asked God and finally forgave myself and was thus forgiven – Why not you? Why are you incapable of not only forgiving yourself, but the flaws of others?

Do you really know what being vulnerable requires? Do you believe you can feel liberated from the flawed self that no one else knows about, aside from you – if you only, if you really understood and trust that it is your ability to profess your mistakes, admit your transgressions and realize your misgivings, then (and only then) you have fully exercised the art of vulnerability! Make the commitment today and don’t be reluctant to seek assistance along the way. I sought professional counsel and still ask for guidance from those who believe in me, despite. So it is now your turn.

I am forgiven because of HIM, My God!