Self-care has been a growing discussion over the past few years and honestly, I’m so grateful for it.
I’ve dealt with feelings that I haven’t really been able to explain or identify before the mental health became such a huge concern. As I got older, I became anxious about my goals, measuring my life based upon a timeline, and even questioning my confidence. Thoughts of what if this doesn’t work out? What if I fail or can I do this, come across my mind.
Through therapy and analyzing my experiences, I learned the value of strength, feelings, expression, and release and finding a healthy way to create better self-talk and a better mental routine in general. The more I grow is the more important those words become. I never thought about how powerful those four things can be. It changed my mentality and how I processed situations, anxiety, and self-doubt. Let me explain.
I used to think of strength as being firm with things I sought out to do and being strong enough to not let things affect me. In the moments when I wouldn’t be able to go all the way through or hit a few roadblocks, I questioned my strength. While we may have our own definition of strength, it’s important to know you’re never too strong to go through things, to feel emotions, or even seek help.
The may seem like a crazy reference but I was watching Schoolboy Q’s story and he was literally telling us to fail. He mentioned how people don’t do things and give themselves a chance to fail, which ultimately gives us a chance to learn. Telling someone to go fail seems odd, but it’s not 100% a bad thing. We aren’t going to be great the first time we do things or navigate through life, it’s a learning process. It’s completely normal to feel scared, overwhelmed, sad, make mistakes, etc.. These situations don’t take anything away from who we are.
Life is an up and down journey full of lessons.
To combat my anxiety, I affirm that I am strong and whatever I’m going through at this moment is not permanent but it will make me stronger. I believe a true testament our strength comes from how we handle adversity, how we get ourselves back up and become even more resilient for the future.
Things that help me rebuild my strength is:
- Include strength building affirmations into my self-care: “I am strong” and “I will be stronger once I get through this.
- Pray to God and thank him for this new experience and ask that he walk with me as I get through this and give me the wisdom, strength, and clarity to do so.
- Remind/relive the tough situations I overcame in the past for reassurance purposes.
- Seek advice or stories of other people who may have experienced what I’m feeling. Not all advice is bad and chances are there is someone out there that can help offer something you haven’t thought of.
Growing up and even dating men, showing my emotions or expressing how I felt wasn’t always encouraged. It was often mistaken with being combative, sensitive, emotional, or weak. In hindsight, that is untrue and extremely unhealthy — we shouldn’t have to mask our feelings. The other day, my sister and I had a conversation where we reflected on our old selves. I used to be so numb to things and how I displayed my emotions. I was angry by the situation itself, being told how to react, etc. That too is unhealthy. I’m not saying it’s bad to be angry at things, but I think it’s important to acknowledge, explore, and analyze our emotions.
It’s okay to feel, it helps with processing and identifying how things really affect you. For a long time, it was hard for me to express myself and I still have some reservations when it comes to showing emotions to others. But instead of holding it in or let the build-up manifest into anger, I acknowledge and dissect my emotions on my time, in a way I’m comfortable with. It’s a process that it is intimate for me but crucial for my growth.
I ask myself what am I feeling? What has me feeling the way I feel? What can I learn from the situation?
Being self-aware is one of the keys to knowing how to face life— know what you can handle, when you’re reaching your breaking point, what emotions you’re experiencing, and how to get out of it in a therapeutic way.
While we’re on the topic of feelings, I challenge myself to be as comfortable with self-expression as I can be. My goal is to be so unapologetically me that I never have to question myself or feel anxious in certain situations. I want to be 100% comfortable with myself and be authentically me and to be real with you I’m not there yet. I see the growth and I’m way more comfortable with myself than I’ve ever been before. It feels great! I never saw myself making YouTube videos, opening up about my insecurities or my epilepsy disorder on the internet. Heck, I never saw myself going to therapy and speaking about my emotions so freely. I’m making it a priority to get to know me and be build a career being me.
Self-expression and self-discovery are one of the most important steps we can take in our self-care journey. It allows us to get to know ourselves inward and outward. Establish our comfort levels, breaking point, fears and how to overcome it. Although the journey takes times, it allows us to be our unapologetic selves and live confidently in our truth. I’ve realized it becomes more about me and how I see or want to see myself.
I can truthfully say I know what type of woman I want to be. I can’t keep living out of fear and doubt. We (including myself) do ourselves a disservice by hiding our light or the special nuances that make us who we are. One thing I notice about the people I’m friends with or inspired by is how well I connect, even in a digital space. I feel represented and sense of community because we bond over these nuances and experience. So I ask myself, how can I create this if I’m not truly expressing myself?
I tell myself it’s a process. I need to shed skin and build tougher ones. It needs to start with me and a strong foundation then everything else will fall into place. I have to, first, get to know these things about myself. Then find understanding and acceptance in it, which can be hard. I stopped sharing these new findings with other people until I have completely digested it. I realized that if I spoke to others about things I was not confident in 100%, their opinions can sway my thinking or make me feel a way about it. It’s my life/experience and it will be different from others and that’s okay! Then once I’ve accepted, digested, and owned it I can share my journey within my community.
I want to briefly touch on the way social media can affect self-expression, without making this piece too long. The idea of expressing ourselves, who we are, and our journey on social media to then measure it on insights and likes is overwhelming! The thought of not feeling good enough because you didn’t reach the number you were expecting is scary — I’ve been there and unconsciously may find myself there again. To prevent it, I’m really not focusing on number and more so on my journey. I ask myself, with this help someone? What do I want to share? What part of my journey does this represent? Then, I post and log off of social media. A big part of it for me is, trusting myself and my vision, knowing my potential, and the why behind why I create.
Having an outlet to let go is so important. I mentioned build-up before, I believe we need to inhale/exhale sh*t — meaning allowing things to come in and make its way right on out.
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed when we don’t have a way to process or release emotions. Speaking for myself, of course, I have to release my thoughts and emotions frequently to keep my mind and energy intact. My emotional or mental bank literally shuts down once it reaches its capacity. When I look back at my even younger self and I can’t believe the build-up of emotions that I had as a teenager. I was angry and never found an outlet to release my emotions nor did I try. Sometimes I wonder if I knew then what I know now, what would be different.
Anyway, release is super important to me and that’s why I write. I journal and I document my thoughts and experiences online. As I sit here and write this piece, I’m processing and venting almost. I’m putting all of these jumbled thoughts and emotions into a way I can understand. Y’all, I’m literally processing my thoughts with each word. Something about that is just so amazing to me. The fact that writing — something I loveee to do — brings me joy and clarity. I can’t see myself not doing this.
If I’m not writing, I’ll talk to my best friend or relative. I love having conversations! It doesn’t necessarily have to be about what I’m going through, it can be an interest or something motivating. It allows my mind to focus on something else and somewhat have a shift in energy.
I also find a sense of release in laughter. I love comedy and funny podcasts, I follow a ton of comedians online because it makes me feel good. Have you ever laughed so hard that you couldn’t stop? Didn’t it feel great? Did you notice that sense of release after? Laughing connects us socially, it exercises our diaphragm, it diverts the feeling of guilt and anger into a more joyful emotional release. I had a good friend tell me years ago when you feel overwhelmed or angry what something funny. I’ve never not done that because it works and I would recommend you try it. The next time someone pisses you off, remove yourself (if possible) and watch/listen to something funny, I think it will lighten your mood a bit.
Lastly, if I’m feeling anxious, I would ride my bike or go for a walk. Something about nature gives me a freeing feeling. It also helps me organize and clear my head, spark my creative juices, and embrace nature. I’m learning that the energy we give comes back to us in the outcome. So, I try to cleanse my energy as much as I can to make sure I’m approaching things with a fresh and open mind.