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.

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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…

 

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!

Oh. How I wonder.

Written as a Facebook Note, March 8, 2012.

Each time I see her, the picture is the same.

I am told all the time to look in a different direction, but nothing changes.

Sometimes I see grey, black, brown, and clear, but never anything worth staring at.

cropped-upclose_sisterlocs.jpgOccasionally the surface is rocky, leveled, paved, and sometimes shallow.

The echo in my head keeps telling me that the glass will always be half empty.

However, I remember what my mother tells me repeatedly – your posture tells the story.

Yet, each time I change my posture, I revert back to my ole ways.

I begin to reflect on how time is clicking away, and I cannot seem to reflect on what I just accomplished.

My lack of concentration is due to overwhelming distractions and the hastily interference that is abrupt.

Anything to steer my focus away from what I could have accomplished some time ago.

But something keeps bringing me back to full circle.

Uh oh, I hear the echo in my head again.

But it is not until I trip that I begin to realize that things are clearer if I ONLY hold my head up.

Signed – the Inner Self,