The current state of African Americans in this country has reached a boiling point. If we didn’t want to acknowledge that there was a need for therapy before, we certainly cannot ignore it anymore! We have seen, heard, read, and even have our own stories to tell when it comes to being unfairly mistreated. For this very reason, last week we held a “gathering” that included a panel of talented men and women that shared their experiences and how we can become unstuck and unbothered by what we are being faced with.
The conversation began with understanding the power of words. When we were younger we heard the childhood comeback,”Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. That statement is so far from the truth I can’t believe we used to say it. What about the command “children should be seen and not heard”? How many conversations did you not have because of those words? How many painful secrets have you kept? Words can heal, contribute to shame, build up, or even break down a person’s spirit. Once we realize the power in our words, we can understand how to use them for growth and encouragement. The power of words can change your life. Affirmations are a great way to begin your day to build yourself up to be able to handle whatever life may throw at you. Building yourself up is extremely important because you cannot pour from an empty glass.
From there “the gathering” shifted the conversation to a macro level, exploring systems in this country and its subtle (or direct) cumulative bias messages, practices and policies. Often people make reference to the system not working and being considered “broken”. Our panelists brought to attention the fact that the system is “working” according to the way it was designed. Have you ever thought about that? Consider the 13th Amendment of the constitution where “blacks” were supposed to be included in the statement, “We the People”. This implies that before this amendment “We” were not considered “the People”. What are those words saying there? Consequently, the entire system was designed to work for “the People” that were originally included. That is the issue with systematic racism, it’s been engrained for a long time, and the actions related to those ideas are often automatic and unconscious. Change requires that the system is dissected by reevaluating our current and longstanding narratives and rebuilding systems as a whole. Systems, in this case, are larger institutions like the education system or the culture of policing, and big business where minorities remain exactly that. Last but not least, we are all responsible for looking at ourselves regardless of the shade of our skin.
A catalyst for reform came after the video of George Floyd. For centuries we have seen African Americans abused and mistreated, but what made that our breaking point? One idea that was introduced for discussion was the fact that due to the pandemic, we were sheltered in place and already frustrated with that experience, and there was little else to focus on. The pandemic had forced everyone to slow down and pay attention. We had just learned of Ahmad Aubry, and one more black injustice was enough! It triggered an instinctual trauma reaction, fight, flee or freeze. Many decided to fight. Secondary trauma can have just as much as an impact as experiencing trauma yourself. Everytime you turn on the news you can’t help but see the replays of a man losing his life, protests throughout the world, additional videos of unjust treatment, insensitive comments by “the people”, plus the effects of the pandemic. Perhaps enough is enough.
So what can we do about how we are feeling? Let’s talk about it. Mental health should be viewed the same as going for a well check. The mind is a powerful thing and should be cared for the same as a stomach ache. Make no mistake witnessing a trauma is just as powerful as being a victim and racial trauma is complex and has been experienced for generations. The impact is lodged in our bodies and our minds. The signs of too much stress may look like: anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, distrust, emotional and social withdrawal, fatigue, wild dreams and periods of unexplained sadness. It’s a challenging experience that will continue to be challenged over the next few months. If left unaddressed it can compromise your emotional and physical well-being.
So if you are unsure about your experiences or have questions about what you feel, consider speaking with a therapist to help you work through your emotions. You can also grab the Unstuck and Unbothered Guide here. Inspired by the recent webinar on the power of your words, this guide takes the time to explore what you are saying to yourself, how to shift it, and speak in ways others can hear you, while listening with empathy as you take proactive steps to change the narrative of your life.
Kensho Psychotherapy Services is here to offer support and help through your difficult time. Mindset Coaching is also available for dynamic women of color in business who need of a boost in their lives. Amanda Fludd has helped hundreds of women find their power, courage and confidence to be their authentic selves both in their professional and personal lives. If you aren’t sure what you need, that’s ok, send us an inquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit our site: www.amandafludd.com.
A special thank you to the Unbothered and Unstuck Panelists: Jennell Smith, Singer and Song Writer on IG @jlatoymusic; Tamara Dopwell, LMSW, Activist & Socially Conscious Tee Shirt Designer at: http://www.designsbytee3.com; And Mr. Richard Celestine, ESQ, and advocate for Juvenile Justice on IG@the_inspirational_lawyer and LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/richard-