3 Ways to "Do the Work"
We have to pause from the work to do our work!
As a licensed psychologist, consultant, and curator of transformative space, I have had the privilege of providing individual and group therapy to Black women since 2017. As a black woman, the work that I do is of the utmost importance to me. Furthermore, as a black woman from a small community, I have witnessed the detriment that a lack of access to imperative resources can have on a community. Traditionally society has prioritized education, healthcare, and access to jobs as an outward measure to determine a community’s success. Mental health is rarely seen as a top priority, and when you are a product of a rural, sparsely populated community, this prioritization becomes less important.
In my personal and professional life, I have witnessed the cycle that miscommunication and miseducation in mental and sexual health has caused. This cycle has served no one and has instead helped to perpetuate generations of uncertainty and disempowerment on an individual, familial, and community level. As a result, I have intentionally decided to invest my time, energy, and educational background to assist Black women in breaking chains of oppression because for me; Black women are the cycle breakers, and I have had the pleasure of connecting with these amazing women though counseling, immersive workshops, and social media.
The women I have had the privilege to serve are leaders! They lead their families and communities. Despite often having little to no support, they continue to show up in their personal relationships and friendships and provide stability and emotional security. Professionally, they lead, adopting a “get it done by any means necessary” attitude. In their own right, they are trailblazers who create paths where none exists. They steer the vision for their teams, departments, and companies by championing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Yet, they do this, all while managing the stress that comes from being thought leaders who have the courage to challenge the status quo and initiate courageous conversations. Moreover, many also endure the additional tax of race related stress, micro aggressions, and lack of representation in the workplace. I support these women because I am that woman. Their experiences are my own experiences.
I am well aware that Black women have found success on every path that they have sought, but at what cost? The cost is usually more than the reward as Black women are forced to pay with their emotional, physical, and psychological health. And because I am ever aware of that reality, I have dedicated my practice and legacy to holding space for Black women. I create a space for them to assess, pause, and reflect. I provide them with tools to unlearn very conditioned learning and realize that they can’t continue to pour from an empty cup. Instead, we find ways for them to give to themselves with the same devotion, fierceness, passion, and resolve as they do their families, friendships, relationships, and workplaces.
The space I hold for Black women usually has one critical component; giving Black women permission to pick themselves-their health, well-being, liberation, and their pleasure. Here is a hard truth, we live a world where Black women are valued for what they can produce, who they can save, and how much they can endure. Others may hold these narratives of us but we do not have to hold them for ourselves, and I am dedicated to assisting Black women with cultivating narratives that value their humanity and leads to health, well-being, and evolution. If you are a non-black woman reading this, I hope you are dedicated to being a support for us to do the same.
You see, Black women have learned to be nurturers, work twice as hard, champion the challenges, take on additional emotional labor helping non-black folks to understand the complexity of anti-black racism and the ways in which it attempts to choke the life out of us daily. Not to mention this additional labor without compensation. In all our doing, this is the question I have for my clients and the question I have for you; while you are busy caring for others, who’s caring for you? Who’s centering your needs? Who’s seeing to it that you dreams are fulfilled?
And many pause for the first time to begin to do the work to answer that question. As I say to my clients, I say to the Black women reading this: This is the first month of the last quarter of 2021. It is not too late to prioritize yourself. Model for others what you deserve by the way you treat yourselves. I want to share with you the process of doing the work so you can get to it:
First: less doing, more being-to truly care for yourselves, you have to be able to BE. Pause to observe and become aware of how you are moving through the world. What truths are you affirming for yourself daily? What are your habits? What is your trigger? In what spaces do you feel like you shrink and don’t take up space? What spaces do you feel over extended? What relationships bring out the best version of you? Which relationships drain you? I hope you’ll commit this quarter to less doing and more being!
As you pause to pursue the answers to the questions from being, then you can cultivate new ways of being. Practice showing up differently, taking on less, asking for more, and cultivate new habits that center your health and wellness.
Move with intention- Set your intentions daily, and fiercely pursue them. Make sure those intentions include your health and well-being. What I know for sure is that people have expectations of you and if you are not careful you’ll find yourself over extending to meet those expectations. I challenge you to take control over your time, treasure, and talent by moving with intention. Your energy tank is limited, be selective about who gets it.
It’s the final quarter. Let's pause from the work to do our own work! You got this!