Emotional Wellness is an Act of Resistance
I want to first note that the words expressed here are only from the experience of myself, a woman of African descent here in America. I cannot speak for an entire culture of people, although many of my brothers and sisters may share some of my same sentiments (therefore, I use 'us' and 'we' to denote these sentiments). Also, this post contains some topics that may stimulate an emotional response. Just breathe.
Let us face it, this year has been exhausting. We are all tired.
We have dealt and are still dealing with the ramifications of a contagious disease, the deaths of innocent black people at the hands of law enforcement and other racist folks, the loss of a basketball icon, his daughter, and others. Black mothers are still dying while giving birth, and a president who does not give a damn about any of the before mentioned or us as a people. Somebody make it stop.
Coronavirus has forced people to stay indoors. Whether it is boredom or reflection, we have more time on our hands. For many, this has caused a downward spiral into depression, anxiety, and even forms of rebellion refusal to stay indoors or wear masks. etc).
For black people, this has caused us to worry. We are worried about looking suspicious with a mask that is supposed to protect us. We are worried about the disparities of this disease among our people. We also have to worry about higher rates of contraction due to many black workers being a part of the essential workforce. Oh, and let me not forget if we do catch the virus, the possibility of being discriminated against in hospital settings or not receiving adequate care at all.
The recent uprisings, surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain (and many others, including our trans sisters and brothers) have triggered us. Stimulated our senses. Poked at our nervous systems. Myself included. We have been re-traumatized. Taken back to a space of anger, fear, and helplessness. We are worried about our children. We are worried about the men in our lives. We are worried about what this means for us as a people. Things are not getting better. They are just how they have always been.
This my friends is a lot to worry about. Too much.
In recent months I have seen many posts reminding non-POC individuals to check on their black friends. As if we need them to acknowledge our hurt and pain before we give ourselves permission to not be okay. The need to be acknowledged by white America has been a part of our cultural fabric and huge stress not to mention. And it is understandable. For so long, we have been ignored, dehumanized, murdered, and muted. So much so, that the emotional wellness of our Ancestors could have been interpreted as a luxury. No one gave them permission to grieve, to mourn, to nurture themselves, to recover. So, WE must do it for them.
Now is the time to reclaim our permission to heal. Emotional wellness is not a luxury. Caring for ourselves is not a luxury. It is a Divine right. It is the very foundation of our spiritual progression. Of course, we want to be seen and heard, to feel safe enough to say we are not okay. But we do need anyone’s permission to do so.
Emotional wellness is an act of resistance. It is revolutionary. It is something we have not been afforded the opportunity to do. It is our way of saying I am going to treat my being with the level of respect that it deserves. It is our way of saying I have autonomy over my body, my mind, and my emotions and you can no longer have that power. We are saying that we are going to change the conditioning that has been imposed upon us. This insane notion that black people have a high tolerance for pain or that we can go on working, fighting, slaving away with little or no regard for our emotional selves or our physical health. This form of resistance says that we will break this cycle of abusive thinking in order to heal our lineage. Yes, worry will come. This life Is not without challenges. But we cannot continue with this played out ideology. We must arm ourselves with the tools to take care of ourselves (this doesn’t just apply to emotional wellness, but we can save that for another conversation).
How then do we honor ourselves and resist the conditioning that says we do not have time, or we are not allowed to be okay?
Recognize and acknowledge that there is something off about how you feel. Acknowledgment can make us feel vulnerable, but it does not make us weak. Being able to acknowledge how you are feeling is a show of strength.
Know that how you are feeling is okay. Emotions are healthy. Say with me again, emotions are healthy. It is your soul’s way of trying to come back into a state of balance. To think otherwise is emotional bypassing, which is pretending that the emotions do not exist.
Understand the emotional process. Many of us are afraid of our emotions because we do not know how they work. Here is the simplified version. We become stimulated or triggered through our senses, which travels to the limbic center of the brain that houses our emotions. From there we label that thought (safe, dangerous, good, bad. Etc.). Based on the labeling of that thought we create a feeling which manifests into an emotion. Based on that emotion, our behavior can be influenced, which can impact our livelihood. When we understand this, we become empowered (I go more in-depth on the emotional process in my course Keepers of the Womb).
Use your voice. Express yourself. Because of the conditioning that has been imposed upon the black community, many find it hard to voice how they feel. We have been cut off from our emotions due to the need to be strong. Find a good therapist, coach, or support group to help you work through some of the emotions that may be a little harder to process. This also applies to the next point.
Understand that trauma is a symptom of a larger issue. If you need further support, do not be afraid to seek help. This is another conditioning that has been detrimental to the black community. Some things we cannot just pray away or keep in secret. Let us break this form of self-abuse in our families and communities.
Make time for self-acceptance, self-love, and self-care. We need us to be well and balanced. Accept where you are on your journey to wellness. If you are in the beginning stages of understanding the emotional process, that is okay. Honor that. There is no perfect way to be emotional. It just is. As you go through the emotional process, take time to find ways to nurture yourself. Eat well, get plenty of sunlight, meditate, pray, connect with nature, connect with loved ones.
Breathe. We have been chanting, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Coronavirus is affecting the ability to breathe. We need the power of the breath more than ever right now. Take time out of your day to return to the breath. This is a reclaiming of our right to live.
Above all else, forgive yourself. Do this for thinking that because you are emotional or triggered that something is wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are Divinely perfect. Your being just needs a reset.
Each and every one of us needs to be well for ourselves and for one another and we do not need outside permission to do so. Stay blessed everyone.
Standing strong with you, -Aremisa
If you are in need of further support of facilitation, book an Emotional Wellness Facilitation Session with me. Let's work together to create a plan to support your life.